Charles Goodger and FunSongs

Musician and Language Teacher

Musician and Language Teacher

Charles Goodger is a musician and language teacher. According to Charles, “music and language share some common characteristics. They are both based on a a structured code of recognizable and meaningful sounds – either notes or phonemes”.

I’m an English language teacher to speakers of other languages or as it’s called ESOL. I’ve always used music in my classes because I love music and believe music affects how we learn. Music has always been a big part of my learning. In fact, I used to listen to music as I studied.

Music and Psychology

I haven’t researched how music affects learning, but I do know that music elicits emotions and emotions influence learning. According to research conducted by Richard Davidson and made popular by Daniel Goleman, learning and emotions are interconnected. For further reading,you may wish to access current research-based articles on music and psychology for free. Pleasure and fun seem to facilitate learning.

Interview with Charles Goodger

I interviewed Charles Goodger in a live online class on WizIQ a few years ago because I was fascinated by his role as an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher and musician. Charles uses action songs in his EFL classes. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. I soon learned that action songs is a brilliant technique that brings the whole person into the learning process.

Music and Language

According to Charles Goodger, music has emotional value, if it strikes a chord in the listener’s consciousness by sparking a feeling or mood; on the other hand language has communicative value if two interlocutors can understand each other. Comprehension takes place through the exchange of a mutually recognised and shared set of sounds in the form of phonemes, words and utterances. If we combine both we get a song and songs can be very useful for learning and practising new words, language chunks and structures. How the brain processes sound is also relevant here. The same parts of the brain are active when interacting with music and with language.

Children, Music and EFL

Music is a universal language that transcends cultures, borders and languages. It has the potential to bring kids together, to move them kinaesthetically and emotionally. Its key elements are pitch, rhythm, melody and harmony. Music can be both rich and complex, simple and banal, beautiful and ugly.

Since the digital revolution, music (or musical noise) has become more ubiquitous than ever. Video games, mp3 recordings and youtube videos provide a constant stream of freely accessible noise to anyone with a gadget and a pair of headphones. Things were very different a few generations ago when all music had to be experienced collectively and performed live.

Many children now have a blunted musical sensibility, an inability to discern. That means if we as teachers are going to use music to enhance the language-learning process, we need to have access to songs and music of a certain quality.

Who is Charles Goodger?

Charles GoodgerOriginally from London, Charles Goodger, the founder of FunSongs Education speaks six languages (including Latvian) and writes language-learning action songs. He has a modern languages degree in French and Spanish from London University and an RSA TEFL teaching certificate. As well as running FunSongs Education, Charles has permanent tenure as a Collaboratore Esperto Linguistico at Bologna University in Italy. Charles Goodger is an English teacher, teacher trainer, text-book and digital materials writer, playwright, songwriter and entrepreneur.

Impacting Teachers Worldwide

Charles Goodger and I are currently on the International Teachers Association of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Young Learners and  Teenagers Special Interest Group (YLTSIG). I am in charge of the website and bi-monthly webinars and Charles coordinates the Very Young Learners (VYL). Charles has impacted my professional work. I have learned a great deal about the value of using action songs in the classroom. I currently use FunSongs even with my adult learners.

Music has a ripple effect on learners of all ages. Since founding FunSongs Education, Charles has been a plenary speaker and held action song workshops at international ELT conferences in China, India, Lithuania, Russia, Latvia, Israel, Poland, France, Germany, Italy, Estonia, Spain, Cyprus, England and Scotland. Charles is making a difference to educators worldwide.

What is the FunSongs Technique?

The FunSongs Technique is an organized way of presenting, teaching and learning new language through action songs. Combining melody and mime, rhythm and rhyme makes English lessons fun and memorable. One key tenet of this teaching approach is that the words of the action song should not be seen until the class has learned the song and can perform it. Each action song acts as the prelude to the completion of a set of graded worksheets. These are written and designed to recycle the language presented in the action song in different communicative contexts.

Teachers and Action Songs

Charles informs me that teachers can download action songs from the FunSongs website. There’s a facility for finding the most suitable action song for the vocabulary you want to teach through a song. You then have the chance to review the entire package before purchasing and downloading it to your own PC to use as you like in class. The worksheets can be photocopied or projected onto interactive whiteboards.

Success Stories

I asked Charles to share some insights into young learners and action songs. Charles claims that even very young learners can learn and perform quite a complex action song. Differentiation in level and ability is more relevant to the worksheets and activities than the songs themselves. Charles told me a story about a pre-school teacher (kids aged 4 and 5) who had bought the first FunSongs CD at a bookstore in Milan and taught The Union Song to her foundation stage pre-school classes.

She was happy specially because her children had successfully sung and acted out an amazing performance of the song to parents at the end of the school year. The Union Song is about one of the most complex organisations in the world: The EU. Despite that this teacher’s kids were able to learn the song and perform it to the delight and amazement of their parents.

Webinars on WizIQ

Charles is a caring teacher willing to share his techniques on how to teach English. He has volunteered to give many classes on WizIQ for free to help teachers understand the system of using action songs. I shared the following two:

Final Words

Charles is not only a caring teacher and musician, he is a lifelong learner. These were his final words:

“I’m intrigued by the possibilities of using digital platforms such as wizIQ to spread the word about what I do. I’m sure online courses will become more and more commonplace as the years go by and teachers get more familiar with using technology. It makes sense in so many ways”.

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