Many language teachers enjoy using songs to reinforce vocabulary and grammar in a contextual setting. While authentic songs are usually preferable if you can find a suitable one, at the lower levels it's often the songs created specifically for language learners that contain the most comprehensible content. That said, I do enjoy playing authentic songs for my students to spark their interest and integrate culture. I've played many songs for my students over the years, but in this post I will share the ones that I keep turning back to year after year. If you enjoy using songs with your students, chances are you've heard of or used some of these songs, but maybe you'll discover something new! Of the songs available on YouTube, I've made a playlist. I also reference some songs that will require separate purchases.
Songs on the Playlist
Salut by John DeMado
John DeMado is known for his rap songs targeting various French vocabulary topics. I like this particular song because it has a lot of useful greetings in it, such as "à bientôt," "à demain," and "bonsoir." It also has vocabulary that I use in future lessons, such as "un ami/une amie" "J'ai __ ans" and "Il/Elle a __ ans."
La danse d'Igor
A colleague in another district, Meghan Chance, first showed me this video. It's a great song to use on testing days to get students out of their seats and dancing. It contains some body parts vocabulary, as well as terms such as "Peux-tu..."
Alouette by Alain LeLait
What would a parts of the body lesson be without Alouette? I particularly like Alain LeLait's video because it's got some cute animation and dance moves that the kids love to imitate.
Les chiffres et les nombres 1-20 by Alain LeLait
Another winner by Alain LeLait. The dancing worms and reggae music keep the students dancing and singing. Alain LeLait has just made two more videos for numbers 20-50 and 50-70. I can't wait to introduce those this year! For more resources for teaching numbers, read my other posts on the topic.
C'est l'Hallowe'en by Matt Maxwell
I really love this song because it reinforces the pronunciation of "c'est." It's a very important and often mispronounced word, and having it appear in a fun song about Halloween is certainly more fun than just repeating it over and over again! For more resources for Halloween, read my post on the topic.
French Alphabet Rap
While most of my students tend to prefer Barbara MacArthur's military version (see below), I like to show my students this song as well to mix things up.
Les chiffres 1-20
This is another song that usually comes in second to Alain LeLait's numbers song, but it's nice to have some variety.
Les trois petits cochons à la Gaga
I show this song to my students at the end of the year. The production is hilarious, and it reinforces lots of vocabulary, such as "Je veux + infinitive," "Tu es," "Il est," and "Je ne suis pas."
Vive le vent
Vive le vent is one of the few traditional French holiday songs whose lyrics are simple enough for first year students to understand. It's also a neat way to show students that often times when songs get translated, it is not a word-for-word transfer.
Songs Not on the Playlist
Ma grande famille by Barbara MacArthur
Barbara MacArthur's Sing Dance Laugh at Eat Quiche series features fun songs about a variety of topics. Her catchy family song names off the many members of the narrator's family, only to find out at the end that they have only one bathroom! Ms. MacArthur sells her songs on CDs or as digital downloads. For more resources for teaching about family, read my post on the topic.
L'alphabet by Barbara MacArthur
This song, which is sung to the tune of the traditional "I don't know but I've been told" military cadence, gets students really excited about learning the alphabet. Sometimes I even have two sides of the room face off to see who can sing louder.
Bon bonhomme de neige by Barbara MacArthur
While not a traditional French holiday song, Barbara MacArthur has put "Frosty the Snowman" to French lyrics that beginners can understand. It incorporates parts of the body and physical description. The students love it.
Les pronoms by Étienne
A colleague of mine suggested to me several years ago that I spend a couple of days reinforcing the subject pronouns out of context before using them contextually with verbs. Although I teach them implicitly all year long, students still sometimes struggle with keeping them straight, especially the plural ones. This song, along with the motions, reinforces the meaning of each word. I have volunteers take turns holding up the pronoun cards as each one is said. You can buy a DVD with a music video for this song over at Étienne's website.
Dansez by Étienne
Dansez is just a fun song that names all the parts of the body. It also has a video that shows a stick figure acquiring more and more body parts as they are named off in the song. It gets kids out of their seats, it's funny, it's a winner!
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