by Elaine Gallagher Have you ever heard of «Language showers»? If your pre-school or primary English program doesn’t have a lot of time scheduled, Language […]
by Elaine Gallagher
Have you ever heard of «Language showers»? If your pre-school or primary English program doesn’t have a lot of time scheduled, Language Showers may be a technique you can use. Even schools with 1/2 day of English can use these techniques too take advantage of every minute the children are in school.
They are mentioned in books, such as Ofelia Garcia’s «Bilingual Education in the 21st Century (2009), so I had to find out what they were because I hadn’t heard of them before.
Language showers are primarily intended for students aged between six and ten years old, who receive between 30 minutes and one hour of exposure per day. This includes the use of games, songs, many visuals, regalia, handling of objects and movement. Teachers usually speak almost entirely in the CLIL language. Routines are developed and considerable repetition is used so students know what to expect. This creates a sense of security, lowers anxiety and boosts learning.
Language showers aim to help students to:
- be aware of the existence of different languages;
- develop a positive attitude towards language learning;
- be prepared for language learning.
Teachers focus on routine activities with which the students become comfortable. They set the stage by telling students what to expect and then switch to the CLIL language, for example:
- To manage snack-time or lunchtime. Instructions are given in the CLIL language, vocabulary for foods is learned and students answer questions about what they are eating. The teacher says: ‘Mmm, apples. Shelly has an apple. Who else has an apple? What is that Paul? Yes, very good. That’s right, it’s an apple. What colour is the apple, red or green? Is it red like Igor’s shirt or green like Chantal’s skirt?’ Simultaneously pointing to Igor’s red shirt and Chantal’s green skirt will facilitate comprehension.
- To help students get dressed for breaks or for going home. Articles of clothing can be put on in various sequences while the students repeat the new words. Considerable gesturing/pointing is used to help students associate the object with its name in the CLIL language. The teacher may say: ‘What shall we put on first? Our gloves? Our hats? Our coats? Our boots? What color is Vadim’s hat? What colour is Penny’s scarf? Today, let’s put on our gloves first. Now let’s put on our coats and try to button them. Is that difficult?’ (Said with a grimacing face.) ‘Is that easy?’ (Said with a smiling face.) Students answer with one word or in short phrases using the CLIL language.
- Singing songs that include considerable movement and that help teach vocabulary (eg the Shimmy Shimmy Shake, also known as the Hokey Pokey: I put my left hand in, my left hand out, my left hand in and I shake it all about …). Using actions together with new vocabulary helps students to learn and more easily recall vocabulary. Also, words in songs are more easily retained than lists of words.