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Reciting is back, but set to music

A NEW SCHEME aims to bring back old-fashioned methods of language learning by setting vocabulary and verb declensions to soundtracks of up-tempo pop songs.

Sing in French wants teachers to play a CD of French verbs and noun groups set to music for pupils to memorise the content by traditional recitation and repetition.

Marie Atallah, founder of Sing in French, claims that it is the grammatically useful content of Cha Cha Cha Comme Ci Comme Ca that sets her CD aside from compilations of French folk-songs more commonly played in primary classrooms.

"Reciting verbs is making a comeback," she said.

"French teachers know that if children are ever going to have hope of constructing their own sentences, they have to know etre and avoir. The songs take the pain out of it. It's traditional rote learning. It's just disguised."

The song "Etre et Avoir" lists the declension of the two verbs. Similarly, "Un, Deux, Trois" counts up to 20 and "Les Jours de la Semaine" lists the days of the week.

Christine Sharkey, the French teacher at Merton Park primary in Wimbledon, south London, said that she would never set her pupils lists of nouns or verbs to memorise. But she uses "Les Jours de la Semaine" with her pupils.

"You've got to learn the days of the week and you've got to learn it as a list. You can't get away from that. So if it can be done in a fun way, all the better," she said.

"Songs are a good way of retaining phrases. Children remember song lyrics for years.

Linda Parker, director of the Association for Language Learning, agrees. "In order to learn a language, repetition is essential," she said. "The problem would come if you were doing only that."


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