The composer-cum-song-writer and producer of Ready Steady Sing, English-born Joy Austin, has been teaching her mother-tongue in France for more than 20 years.

Joy Austin animatrice des Minis-Schools à la Colle sur LoupShe is the grand-daughter of a musical couple, her grandmother was a professional singer and her grandfather a pianist and composer. Joy wanted to add to the many traditional English songs some new, simple and catchy melodies, with a limited number of words on a particular theme, so that children find it easy to start learning English in an easy and fun way.

Thanks to her role as a teacher at the Mini-Schools, and that of a voluntary teacher in a primary school, she has been able to put together these songs in close collaboration with the children, getting inspiration from them and adapting the song-words to their abilities and the things they particularly love.

I Love English : In 2011 the well-known French publishers Bayard Jeunesse asked Joy to collaborate on a project called “J’aime l’Anglais”, a publication for 3-7 year olds, which comprises a book and a cdrom.
This series contains songs from the cd Ready Steady Sing as well as some new creations.

Ready Steady Sing 2 : The composer is presently working on a second album of songs for children to have more fun while learning some more English. 

Parents’ questions – interview with Aurélie Djavadi, for the Bayard Jeunesse website

If a child refuses to repeat the song, how should you react?

Joy Austin: You should not force the child to repeat the words. It isn’t because a child doesn’t say anything that he or she isn’t listening! Moreover, the child has their own reasons for not repeating the words: maybe he has learnt them, but he sees no reason for showing you what he knows.
Then, one day, he will say some words in English, just when you expect it least. Every child has their own calendar! The most important thing is to make sure your child enjoys English, because that will be the key to his motivation while learning this language.
Every discovery is an adventure for a child, and this is something to always bear in mind.

What advice would you give to the parents who are going to be listening to these songs with their children?

Joy Austin: Try and do some actions while you sing the songs. With the colour song, for example, you can take some felt pens and show which colour is being named as you listen to the song. Thus the child will associate the actions with the words he is discovering, and will remember them better. But a song is not a teacher, and cannot replace a native speaker who can show a child how to pronounce the sounds.

Is it easier to learn a language through music ?

Joy Austin: already the songs immerse the children who can’t yet read in a world of new sounds. Moreover, English is a musical language, even when it is not sung but spoken. This is what a CD enables them to experience, but which will pass them by if they only look at the pages of a book. The songs enable them to learn new vocabulary, but, above all, they create a happy atmosphere that children love. At their age, what they most want to do is play. At the mini-schools and at primary school, I do a show with my pupils, and I see that, thanks to the songs, they dare speak a language they are only just beginning to discover.

Where did your idea to write these songs come from?

Joy Austin: I wrote them because I felt something was missing when I was teaching children their very first words in English. Traditional songs are great for passing on some English culture, but they are too complex to be used to teach the language. In these songs, there are five or six new words per phrase. The result is, children who don’t speak English listen to them but can’t memorise anything. What I wanted to do was give them songs they are proud to learn quickly, and which are fun for them to sing. I tried to create catchy tunes, to which I put just a few words all on the same theme: colours, numbers, clothes, etc.