Reflections on Using Language Neutral Rhythm Syllables for English Language Learners

July 14, 2009 / By: Julie A. Schramke

This study is a comparison of two accepted methods of teaching rhythm: Takadimi (in the Kodály tradition) and Language-rich (in the Orff-Schulwerk tradition) and the implications of using these methods when teaching English Language Learners (ELL).

Two groups of fourth graders were taught the concept of four sounds on a beat (four sixteenth notes) in simple duple meter (2/4 and 4/4) over four lessons. One group used the syllables “ta, ta-di and takadimi” to denote one sound, two sounds and four sounds on a beat. The other group used English language words from the songs to learn the rhythms. Students were given a pretest and posttest, and the scores were compared with regard to ELL status and home language. The students in the study spoke either Spanish or Hmong as their home language. The findings of this study suggest that classes where there are many ELL students present, especially classes in which there is more than one second language, may benefit from the use of a rhythm syllable system such as Takadimi.