How-to: Use Songs in your ELT class
Communicative Classroom Activities

How-to: Use Songs in your ELT class

Song-based lessons are the best way to let your students get their hands on English, instead of just studying it. They also make up for a fun lesson that motivates, promotes communication, and makes use of authentic material.

By introducing songs to your class, you allow learners to practise new sounds and the stress patterns of spoken English, you slip new grammar structures into the lesson without anyone noticing—and the list goes on.

Express Publishing's books often feature songs; from iWonder to Upstream, and from Smiles to The Flibets, our course books enrich learning with pre-listening, while-listening, and post-listening activities that help students consolidate new language structures, activate schemata, and entertain!

i Wonder teaches English alongside other school subjects and brings all the wonderful elements of the real world into the language classroom. The course has been designed to fully engage young learners and to ensure that they develop a love of learning; it partly achieves that by introducing catchy songs that make learning fun and memorable!

A How-to Guide: Use Songs in English Language Teaching

A listening Bingo!

An effective pre-listening activity is playing the song without showing the lyrics—just yet! Encourage your students to hone their active listening skills by writing down:

  • Words and phrases they recognize 
  • Words they are not familiar with 
  • Longer phrases they’ve grasped while listening

Another way to extend the activity and make sure your students have made the most of it is to have them jigsaw their notes or brainstorm on a possible song title. 

Fill in the blanks

Prepare a worksheet for your students using song lyrics with keywords removed. You can either have the words written in a frame, have them fill in the blanks by themselves, and get feedback once they listen to the song—or alternatively, you can ask them to listen for detail and fill in the blanks without a word bank as a reference.  

Shuffle the lyrics 

Print out the lyrics, cut the print outs into stripes with the lyrics sentence-by-sentence. Shuffle them and have your students to re-arrange them as they listen to the song. 

Create a new word document with the song’s lyrics and insert each sentence into a table’s cell. Then, have the worksheet printed and cut. Shuffle the order of the lyrics and pile them together. 

Before your students listen to the song, ask them to brainstorm on the possible correct order of the lyrics cut-outs. Last, play the song and let them re-arrange them as they listen to it.

Rewrite the lyrics

Divide students into small groups and challenge them to rewrite the lyrics using the melody of the song, but changing the words. 

You can give each group a specific topic or keywords that the new lyrics should include. Then have each group sing their part to the class.

One at a time!

Students sit in a circle and take turns saying one of the lines of the song. Any student who doesn’t know the next lyric is out, and the next student has to come up with it. The last student left is the winner!

Looking to learn more on how to use songs in class?

Chris Walklett's contribution Express Yourself: Using Songs Creatively in the 21st Century Classroom provides valuable guidance on how to incorporate 21st-century skills, such as communication, collaboration, cultural literacy, and citizenship, tackle controversial issues, and make the most of the use of songs in class.

Chris' article can be found in our anthology English for 21st Century Skills.

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