There is nothing like music, rhythm, and rhymes to engage children in communicating – nature has designed it so.
By Áine Ní Shúilleabháin
Rhymes make children happy
For centuries, language has been transmitted through rhymes and songs. Rhymes make children happy and lead to a fun interactive experience between parent and child. With the invasion of screens and technology in the past twenty or thirty years, many children have been deprived of the fun and laughter nursery rhymes convey – not to mention the educational value.
Young children love to play with new sounds and new words, and they revel in rhymes and repetition. Repetition is the key to language acquisition. Children are born with innate gifts to acquire languages and if given the chance of hearing them regularly, have the ability to acquire a second, third, and fourth language, instinctively.
Irish through the medium of Rhymes
Compiled and published by Áine Ní Shúilleabháin and Treasa Ní Ailpín, Bróga Nua – Enjoying Irish with Young Children is a unique guide to support parents and adults in introducing Irish through the medium of songs, music, and action rhymes. It contains approximately 100 simple Irish rhymes and songs with English translations and two CDs.
These rhymes contain rich rhythmic and repetitive language structures and patterns and will be a foundation in the Irish language for many children. Throughout the CDs there is a number of instrumental musical interludes using Irish traditional instruments and melodies.
Bróga Nua is divided into categories and includes notes to support adults as they plan games, short plays, music, and movement activities for children.
The package can be used and enjoyed by teachers, parents, grandparents, children, crèche and preschool providers everywhere.
“..Children (birth to 9 years) will be drawn to the songs and rhymes in this collection and easily learn to love and speak Irish.” (Early Childhood Ireland).
You do not need to be an Irish speaker to use this resource. If the only Irish you have is “aon, dó, trí” or “slán”, don’t be hesitant about trying. After all, nothing could be simpler than learning Irish through rhymes e.g. Ring-a-Ring-a-Rósaí; Mise an Traein, etc. Rhymes are essential tools for acquiring language – learning that happens unconsciously.
Benefits of introducing a second language to children
Introducing a second language in a fun way with rhymes has many benefits for children. Research shows that children who are introduced to a second language in early childhood develop early reading skills among other cognitive-linguistic benefits. Current research strongly supports the advantages of early bilingualism in a wide range of skills such as language, literacy, social, emotional, and cognitive development. Studies confirm that English literacy skills are enhanced and promoted because of this rich linguistic exposure.
Rhyme and Repetition aid Memory
The rhymes in Bróga Nua relate to everyday routines in a young child’s life as well as little circular games and activities. Rhymes, rhythm, repetition, and melody, all aid learning memory. The various rhymes contain repetitive language structures and provide a foundation in the Irish language for children. Children play with the short texts of Irish rhymes and unconsciously discover the mechanics of the language.
You can dip in and out of this book choosing your children’s favourite rhyme anytime.
Let us return to ‘the good old days’ when children and adults sang and chanted rhymes together.
Take time to rhyme!
‘Bróga Nua – Enjoying Irish with Young Children’ is available from Dubray Books