Happy birthday – two languages

A group of three year olds are having a birthday tea. They sing happy birthday, starting in english and then in arabic.

Good for looking at

  • Language development
  • Singing and rhymes
  • EAL
  • Pretend play
  • Socialising
  • Materials


  • How are the children learning? Which areas of development, engagement and characteristics of learning can you observe?
  • How does the environment and materials support the children’s learning?


What are your thoughts about:

  • How the children are communicating?
  • The children’s level of language development?
  • The value of this type of pretend play for the children?


What would you do to:

  • Support the children’s development of their languages?
  • Encourage children to extend their game? Are there games which children play again and again? Can you support the build up of a song repertoire that children can use in their games?
  • Extend their learning – e.g. building up a repertoire of songs they can sing in more than one language?

What next:

  • Do you need to encourage more of this kind of play and learning for the children your setting? Do you have children with English as an additional language in your setting? Can you learn some songs in both their home language and in their additional language?