A popular song in many languages


Ellie Fitzpatrick

Dublin City University

I wanted to create a lesson to raise awareness of the diversity of language in an Irish classroom in an enjoyable way, while also stimulating children to think critically about the world around them. The learning goals for this lesson are to explore the languages spoken in Ireland, to discuss the similarities and differences between languages and to perform the multi-lingual version of the song ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the movie Moana. 

To open the lesson, form a circle with your class to promote discussion and questioning. Explain how we will be exploring languages today and open with some questions about the linguistic skills of the class (e.g. what language do you speak at home? does anyone here speak more than one language?). Ask the children some open questions regarding the significance of maintaining one’s native language (e.g. Why do you think it is important to maintain your own language? What might happen if people stop speaking it?). Multilingual children can gain a sense of pride and confidence in talking about their own language in class.

Play the multilingual version of the song: ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the Disney movie musical Moana and ask the children some questions about the languages they hear (e.g. What languages do you hear? Can you hear a language you know? Why do you think that?).

This movie follows the adventures of Moana as she reconnects with her heritage through her bond with the sea. Using this theme of water, display an anchor chart that includes vocabulary related to this movie. The labels water, sea and ocean can be attached by velcro to the anchor chart to encourage the children to guess what the translations mean and to compare them to their own language.

language explorers

Split the class into groups of five to provide each group with four lines from the song to focus on, which means each group will be working with approximately four different languages. Give each group the lyrics of the song.

Ask them some questions about the lyrics (e.g. What do you like about this language? How is it different/like your language?).
Allow the children some time to practice their part of the song and encourage them to have fun with their performance by adding dance moves/gestures if they wish.

Each group will perform their part of the song, with their lyrics in hand, and ask them about how they felt it went (e.g. What did you find difficult about the performance? What did you enjoy about it?).
Perform the song as a whole class and make sure to compliment the children on their performances. To conclude, discuss what the children have learned about other languages, the similarities and differences that they noticed and what they think about learning a new language.
Feel free to adapt this lesson for a different class, for different class sizes or over several days to expand on each element of the lesson. Most importantly, encourage the children to have fun with languages!

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