Atama, kata, hiza, ashi!

Most early literacy specialists recognize the importance of encouraging families to speak, sing and read with their children in the language they’re most comfortable with. I try to reinforce this through the early literacy messages I sprinkle throughout my story times.

One of the best ways to get a message across, though, is to lead by example. I’ve been trying to include more songs in different languages in my story times, and to provide examples of songs that can be adapted to different languages.

My partner came home from Japanese language class humming a very familiar tune – they’d been learning Head and shoulders, knees and toes as part of a lesson on anatomical vocabulary.

What a perfect song to use with different languages! We sang it at my babytime in Japanese and Chinese, and it was a lot of fun for everyone to practice the different vocabulary.

Telling parents to sing with their babies in their native language is fantastic, but providing them with options, examples and suggestions is even more helpful – not everyone necessarily remembers the songs they sung as a child, and sometimes we just get so bored of the same old traditional songs that we’re desperate for something new to try! Sharing is caring!

5 thoughts on “Atama, kata, hiza, ashi!

  1. Wonderful ideas and tips! Songs are really the best way to learn and be exposed to a foreign language. Before I even knew any English (I was born in Romania), we listened to nursery rhyme tapes of all the classics (my first exposure). Now as an adult whose first language is English – I am maintaining the French I’ve learned in school by listening to French music 🙂
    Great post!


    • Thank you! You’re so right, we really emphasize singing a lot in our library story times because, just like you said, it’s such a great way to learn language. A lot of the families in my neighbourhood are English language learners, and it’s great to see different generations of a family coming together to learn through singing and music!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d never really thought about it but that is a great way to learn a language, especially if it is something so familiar. I’m going to have to look into songs in the next year with this baby coming. 🙂


    • Absolutely, singing is a fantastic way to reinforce language skills. One of the reasons that singing is effective is that it slows language down – we typically sing more slowly and deliberately than we speak, which gives listeners more time to process the language being used. Plus, singing is a lot of fun (no matter how you sound!), which makes for a more positive learning experience. Congratulations on your upcoming baby! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Sunday Post #36 – A Dance With Books

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