Following my recent post on using ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)‘ in English lessons I have had a few enquiries about using songs as an additional resource. Not wanting to actually come up with anything new on this topic I have decided to just reproduce an article I wrote for my company’s in-house magazine a few years ago albeit in a slightly revised format.
Most teachers know the merits of using songs in kids lessons but there is potential to go beyond the ‘The Wheels On The Bus‘ and ‘Heads and shoulders‘. Music should not just be thought of as being exclusively used in kids lessons since there is also a time and a place for it in Adult lessons too. Standard books like ‘New New Headway’ and ‘Snaphsot’ use songs but apart from these examples there’s not too much out there.
Using songs in the classroom provides listening practice which is (hopefully) stimulating and often more authentic than your average textbook listening exercise. Songs also provide a lot of repetition and can contain cultural references which our motivated students will be intrigued by. This fun way of learning makes a refreshing change for students and can be employed in the following ways:
Gap Fill – the most favoured exercise involving listening for the relevant lexical or grammatical words or whatever the target language point is. These missing words could of course be printed at the bottom of the lyrics sheet or on the board for those weaker students.
Ordering – cut up the lyrics into strips. Students can predict the order and then check while listening to the song.
Rhyming Words – erase the rhyming word and students predict what it could be.
Changing Words – take selected words or lyrics and change them to similar sounding or looking words.
Sentence Completion – students predict and/or listen to the end of a lyrical sentence.
Jigsaw Listening – Students have different lyric strips to listen out for and place in order on the table.
Listening for Key Words – pressing a buzzer or just simply keeping a tally of how many times they hear certain words or examples of the target language, such as present continuous, and choosing the correct word from two (or even three) similar sounding words.
Choosing a song can be difficult but some things to think about are: Is it a realistic task for the intended level to accomplish? Is it fast or slow? Is there any repetition? Does it contain idioms and cultural references that are beyond students’ level and would take too much explaining beforehand? Failing that, songs by ‘The Beatles‘ are usually a safe bet as they’re commonly known and they, along with thousands of other songs, can be used to provide a topic introduction or discussion.