Have you ever caught yourself humming the tune to a song you heard years ago? If so, you've tapped into the power of music and long-term memory.
The fact is, music makes learning stick. Just ask a neuroscientist. But first: a word or two on long-term memory.
Inherent to long-term memory are explicit (or declarative) and implicit (non-declarative) memory. If you consciously think of a specific memory, you're tapping into explicit/declarative memory. By contrast, implicit/non-declarative memory requires no conscious effort.
When the brain is exposed to music and words together, that information becomes a part of the brain's explicit and implicit memory. This helps explain why dementia patients who seemingly have little or no explicit memory can still remember tunes and words to songs they knew decades earlier.
Imagine Learning designers recognize that developing brains are open to myriad learning cues from an early age. In a semi-literal way, young brains are like sponges as they soak up information from multiple sources.
That's why during the development of Imagine Español learning activities, designers worked closely with musicians, actors, and sound engineers to create an optimal learning environment--one in which music plays a critical role.
The Songs of Imagine Español
The marriage of music and language/literacy instruction seems to be a match made in heaven. Together, words and music help young learners understand information in both an explicit and implicit way.
Likewise, learning to read in Spanish becomes more powerful when music reflects the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries.
For example, Imagine Español songs incorporate authentic Latin sounds through instruments like claves (wood blocks), maracas, bongo and conga drums, timbales, marimbas--even bandoneons (similar to accordions). When students hear these sounds, they enter an aural landscape that feels familiar to their own culture.
The catchy rhythms and melodies of Imagine Español songs also help students participate in full-body learning: their ears hear the music and words, their mouths repeat the songs and words they hear, and their bodies can move to the rhythms, enhancing engagement.
Additionally, every song in Imagine Español includes these important features:
- Melodic and rhythmic repetition facilitate memory retention of new reading and language concepts.
- Rhyming text helps students recognize visual and auditory patterns in the words they learn.
- Spoken narration momentarily pauses the action of the song, giving students time to learn new concepts or vocabulary words.
- On-screen text visually highlights word and syllable rhythms as the singer progresses from word to word.
- Listen-and-repeat features let students click on various letters, sounds, or words and repeat them after the narrator.
Here's what's playing on the Imagine Español song list!
- Los pollitos (The Little Chickens) - A perennial favorite with young learners, this song features rhyming words like "frio" and "pio" as the song progresses. The catchy tune, bright colors, and repeated chorus helps reinforce the vocabulary words. This song is a great example of peer modeling (a child soloist is featured).
- Pin Pon - Join this beloved character as he pairs multiple rhyming words and visually introduces the instruments being played. This song also uses peer modeling.
- Los elefantes (The Elephants) - Help students develop their counting skills in this delightful song! Students can also listen to adult and children's voices as the song progresses.
- Uppercase Vowels -In this peer-modeled song, students learn to recognize uppercase vowels A E I O U in a catchy way.
- Lowercase Vowels - This peer-modeled song also features the vowels, but in a new visual way that helps young learners learn to differentiate variations in written characters. The engaging rhythm also invites movement, helping students stay focused.
- Uppercase ABCs - Unlike English, Spanish literacy instruction doesn't generally include an 'Alphabet Song.' This engaging song helps both native-Spanish speakers and dual-language learners distinguish the look of each letter as well as its spoken sound. Dramatic tempo changes (first moderate, then slow, then fast) keep students engaged.
- Letter Sounds - In this song, students learn to recognize the alphabet as written in lowercase. A fresh new melody and captivating rhythm also foster engaged learning.
- Days of the Week - Unlike the majority of songs in Imagine Español, this tune features a rollicking guitar ostinato that harks back to Fifties Jive style. As the lyrics cycle through all the days of the week, catchy rhythms, melodic modulation, and repetition foster greater memory recall.
- Months of the Year - This peer-modeled song introduces students not only to the months of the year, but also to seasons and holidays--a nice bonus for students who are adjusting to a new country and culture.
- El agua clara (The Clear Water) - introduces students to traditional folk music of Latin countries. A bandoneon (or small accordion) creates additional interest on off-beats. Unlike other songs in the program, this song features no on-screen text.
- Cheki Morena - As the newest traditional song in Imagine Español, Cheki Morena teaches children not only a catchy folksong; it also teaches them the steps to a traditional dance by including directional phrases like "dar una vuelta" (take a walk), "adelante" (go forward), and "atras" (go back).
Not only are children and educators charmed by the songs of Imagine Español--they're also engaged in learning that they'll remember for years to come.
What are your favorite songs in Imagine Español? Share them with us in the comments below!