racantillo's picture


I usually choose a song which I deem ok for my students' age-range (10-13) and provide them with hand-outs of the lyrics. I then play the song (i.e. Lennon's 'Imagine' or 'Yellow Submarine') and ask them to listen to it and at the same time try and read out the lyrics from their hand-out. Then we spend some time sorting difficult words (5-10mins) and listen to the song again (CD or computer).

If they like the song (they don't always, and sometimes they ask me to get another CD:) I might ask them to vocalize the lyrics without listening to the actual song and then rehearse it a couple of times. Alternatively, I've asked students to find out the lyrics from listening to the song. This however only works if their level of comprehension is good enough to recognize sounds and match spelling to the lyrics; the lyrics shouldn't be too complicated ('Love is Real' v. 'Fool on the Hill').

Beatles song such as 'All together Now' are perfect for this sort of activity! It's obviously better if you can find a curricular book with a section about English and Music (type 'sing-a-song' exercise; the downside though is that usually it's songs they really shun like 'three little pigs' so teachers end up having to use their own strategies. Generally, it's a good way of experimenting with voice recognition in language acquisition and it definitely improves their spelling as they have to jot the lyrics down to get to sing the song! Hope it helps, best,  


thorgal67's picture

It all depends on the age group, but I have had quite some success with the following technique:

 1. take a song that you know is suitable (vocabulary/grammar/context) for your students. So no "Cream" by Prince if they are younger than 18 :)

2. copy the lyrics and leave holes whenever there is a difficult word or an interesting phrase.

3. hand out the partial lyrics and ask your students to listen to the song (once or twice). The third time they can then write the missing words.

4. Compare and correct together with your students.


Matthieu Laporte's picture
Matthieu Laporte

Be careful with some songs : sometimes grammar is not correct.

My students (Spanish students) love to learn English songs and I always choose songs for little children (it's easier).

At the beginning we always try to translate the song to be sure they understand the sense and then they learn faster the english rules and grammar !

jnenchin@molloy.edu's picture

Songs can make an important contribution to the ESL/EFL classroom. You can use songs to help the students learn history. For example, if they are reading about the Great Depression in America, you can use the song "This Land Is Your Land," with the less sung lyrics, in which Woodie Guthrie sings about the problems of the Depression, such as rations and poverty. Or you can choose songs that were popular during World War I or II, and so on.

Songs can also supplement poetry units and be used to teach about culture. Moreover, they provide a way to practice rhythm, intonation, and pronunciation. If you can't sing, bring in tapes. See  if someone in class can play the guitar. Songs offer may exciting possibilities.

synewave's picture

While I was doing my CELTA course I remember one of the instructors demonstrating one way to use songs. We each had a flashcard and were told that when we heard a certain word (or if we thought we heard the certain word) we were to raise our flashcard.

pepper_inu's picture

The topic of using songs in an ESL classroom is also the topic of my BA
thesis. I work mainly with young
learners. Songs are an amazing source for them to memorize vocabulary,
but it is my task to provide them with explanations or meanings of the
lexical items. If anyone has got any idea as to where to get some methodological resources on that topic, please help!

My students usually get to know the meaning of certain words first and then we sing the song altogether, acting out stories or showing objects. Songs are a great means of teaching grammar structures too, even if they're not clear at the beginning. Have you ever had a foreign word on your mind, whose meaning you didn't know, and when you found out the meaning everything fell into place?:) My young learners haven't got the metalanguage to talk about what and how they learn, but I hope it works this way with them as well..:)

sj1009's picture

I think it's not easy to study English just by singing English songs. Maybe you can practice but not learn new word. Songs can also supplement poetry units and be used to teach about culture. Moreover, they provide a way to practice rhythm, intonation, and pronunciation. If you can't sing, bring in tapes.




ARAG's picture

[quote=Tanya888]Hi,I just wonder if there is any techniques to study english by singing english songs.Regards. Tanya[/quote] Hi,When teaching any language a lot of activities are valid and using songs is not the exception. Songs can be used for different purposes in a class though (to learn something related to grammar, vocabulary, rhythm, intonation or pronunciation and even just to chill out and have some fun with your students).You could bring songs  once per week as in fridays to get your students out of the routine and to make them more motivated as well. You can also use songs as teasers or energizers with  kids at the beginning of the lesson and at the end.Teaching songs itself should not be taken as a method to teach the language but as a teaching tool. Songs contain a lot of pieces of language that are used everyday.  Also, you may want to make sure that the language is appropriate and check the song  in advance.Another thing about songs is trying to make them interesting for your students and do not please!! I remark do not always bring your 70's,  80's  or Beatle's mix. Some students (teen-agers and adult ones) might find this absolutely boring and far from motivating them you are discouraging your class. Instead, ask in a general  way what  the class likes and check the song, the lyrics, the beat and bring something that is meaningful, clear and according to their age and level.Also, when designing a song you have to make sure what the objective is and based on this then you can design the type of exercises. There's different types of exercises for songs such as:* Filling in the blanks (one of the most used and traditional exercise). It could be filling in with a verb tense, a noun, an adjective, an adverb, an auxiliary, specific vocabulary and so on.*Ordering the sentences. (Unscramble the sentences and they have to order it according to what they listen) *Answering comprehension questions (When the song is about a story)*Singing Karaoke songs (This is an activity you can try once they filled in the song or once you accomplished the objective). This activity brings lots of fun when you have a class very motivated and when your students trust you.*Playing some background music (classic music or contemporary music like Enya) while doing a writing activity.*With kids using mimics and some moves with the songs makes it more fun and meaningful to them.*Dividing the class into two teams and play any line of a song and the first one that rings the bell and makes the right guess of the phrase gets the point. This works well with advanced students.*Teaching general culture as guess who the singer is (You may bring different singers from different English speaking countries)*Extended activities could also be done as finding out about the singer (his origin, his songs, his biography, etc)*Teaching accents (You might have them practising a specific accent. It could be American or British). Make sure it's a slow song and make sure they get what  words show the accent.*Preteaching words used in the song and have them on the board or on a special section next to the lyrics. This activity is very useful to for students since they know in advance unsual or weird words. Wiht advanced students have them guess the words and then check their definitions.*Placing some words on the board and divide your class into two teams and as they listen to the song, they have to tap with their hand and say what word they listened. Teacher or a student could cross out the words to make sure which ones are missing.As you can see, there's many things you can do. In fact, these  are just some of the many ideas teachers could apply.Hope this informantion helps you :)Sincerely,Aida       

girishseshamani's picture

drawing from my experience of 8 years, I strongly feel that irrespective of the profile of your students in terms of age, it would not be a good technique to use songs. This is because the focus is going to be more on the soundtrack and the lyrics can have lot of slang words which will make it very difficult for the students to pick up the words. A better option would be to make them listen to recorded talk shows or news clippings. You should also be interacting continuously with the students everyday on common topics which appeal to them. also ensure that each student participates in the discussion and allow them to make mistakes. This is how they gradually pick up the language.By your daily interaction with the students, they will undoubtedly get the confidence as days pass by and you will notice a perceptible change in each student. You have to take on the role of a facilitator.all the best.