When I was a kid, thirteen to be exact, Was (Not Was) released a song called ‘Walk the Dinosaur’, which was a huge hit in 1988. It’s one of those songs you don’t forget, and I tend to sing it to myself every time one of my elementary school students chooses the ‘dinosaur’ from a bunch of stamps I use for homework and rewarding the kids at the end of each lesson.
Today, in my 4th-6th grade class, without prompting, the kids all started singing the song along with me, and after the first time, they all wanted the ‘dinosaur’ stamp, and we kept singing the song! I found it hysterically funny that a group of Japanese kids, who weren’t even born when Walk the Dinosaur was released, would not only find it funny, but actually make a conscious effort to remember the words and sing it aloud with dinosaur gestures!
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this, it would be that children do pick up on teacher ‘chatter’, that is the things an ESL teacher says to him or herself during a lesson which the kids aren’t expected to understand. I often talk or sing to myself when I teach…”Now where did I put my pencil?”, “Wow, he actually did his homework this week.”, “Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep them wagons rolling… Rawhide!”
When you say the same things repeatedly every lesson, directly or indirectly, children remember. So, today’s tip is to be aware of what you’re saying, make sure you say it every week, and in a few months your kids will be saying it, too!