For a lot of teachers songs are something they only use to give their students a break. However, there's a whole lot more to using songs in the classroom than just taking a pot of correction fluid to the words and creating a cloze gap fill.
In our Song Worksheet Section we have already got a nice collection for you to use for teaching various grammar and vocab items, now it’s time to review creative ways we can use to work with songs in the classroom.
From Abba to Bob Marley there's much more you can do than just play songs in the classroom on a Friday afternoon as a wind down to the weekend: Grammar practice, vocabulary, a change in pace, listening skills, lead-ins to discussions, teaching culture or ethics/values, and much more; the list is almost endless:
With evocative titles they can be used for brainstorming vocabulary. Students can make up a story given the keywords from the song.
Amend the song
Insert wrong words into the song. This can be used with synonyms or antonyms. You could make two versions changing different words in each so that students can check with a partner.
Add extra words into the song
Students must listen and strike out the extra words.
Ordering the song
Cut up the song into manageable chunks and students can reorder as they listen.
Students order pictures representing the song.
Split sentences in two so students must match up the first and second half of sentences.
Using the text of the song
Give the students true or false sentences from the text of the song.
Students find synonyms and antonyms in the song to words given on a handout.
Students select 9 keywords from a selection of about 20 on the board and insert them into a 3 by 3 grid. When students listen to the song they tick the words off until they have 3 in a row and then a full house.
Using keywords the students retell the story of the song in a narrative.
Expand the song
Students can write an extra verse for the song.
Students can compose a verse perhaps using keywords from an original verse and then compare it with the original.
Students can write a letter from or to the singer or a character in the song.
Rhyming words can be extracted from the song.
Weak forms, contractions and unstressed words are commonplace in song lyrics.
Make out a survey for students to rate the song from 1-10. You can include questions like: Does this song make you feel happy? Does it make you feel sentimental? How would you rate the lyrics? How would you rate the tune? Will it be successful? Would you buy it? would you want to listen again? Is it suitable for background music? etc.
You need at least 20 questions. Students answer the question while or after they listen. Next they can write up a review of the song. If you have the facilities you may get them to do different songs or as a homework exercise they can do it at home with a favourite song in English or their mother tongue.
Structures (especially modals and conditionals) and tenses are often repeated in the song. Blank these out as reinforcement of the grammar.
Transfer lyrics from direct to reported speech.
'Ain't' and 'gonna' and other colloquial words which are often neglected in lessons frequently come up in songs.
Blank out all the verbs, adjectives, rhyming words, etc.
Give students a chance to predict the missing words before they actually listen.
Students must choose from a multiple choice which could be used for synonyms or confusing words.
Give the students the missing words in a jumble on the whiteboard.
All the words are blanked out so that students put the song together starting from nothing.
Music without lyrics
Play a piece of music and students write down any words that come into their heads and explain this to the group afterwards. Students draw as they listen and afterwards explain their picture.
Games to play
In pairs students listen for words ending in '-ing', rhyming words, adjectives etc
Play charades using song titles.
Students can act out the story of the song. You need a suitable song and give them time to prepare for this. e.g. 'Don't you want me?' by The Human League.
Are you using any other creative ways of teaching English through songs? Please tell us!
I really love all your articles, they are amazing!!!
There is another way to work with songs, Cut up the song into manageable chunks, put them on a table and put your students around the table, when they listen to the song they have to take the piece they listened to, the students with more pieces is the winner!!!
I tried another way with my pupils and it worked pretty well (lower intermediate): I blanked out some words and illustrated them with pictures I found on the internet. First they had to make suggestions for the missing words thanks to what the pictures evoked, then we checked by listening to the song. the weak point is that it takes a lot of time searching for the pictures