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Listening activities for songs

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Here are some tried and tested ideas when listening to a pop song. 

Katherine Bilsborough

Activities need not require hours of preparation time and some of the best activities are spontaneous and simple. Below are a few suggestions. They are categorised into pre-listening, while listening and after listening activities.

Pre-listening activities

  • Give students the title of the song and ask them to predict words and phrases that they expect to hear.
  • Give students the words of a song with an 'either/or' choice for certain words in each line. Students choose which word is more likely in each case and then listen and check if they were correct.
  • Dictate a list of words which appear in the song in a random order, and add one extra word which doesn't appear. Students write the words then listen to the song, ticking off the words as they hear them, to discover which was the extra word.

While listening activities

  • Students listen and delete extra words which they do not hear.
  • Students listen and fill gaps (open cloze or multiple choice).
  • Students listen, draw a picture to represent what they hear and then explain their pictures in small groups.

After listening activities

  • Students listen to a song and make a note of six to eight words that they hear. Then they use these words as the basic vocabulary for composing a poem in pairs. It doesn't need to be a serious poem, they can make it humorous or corny!
  • Students write another verse for the song in pairs or small groups.
  • Students brainstorm all of the words that they think they heard and then listen again and check to see how many are correct.
Language level
Language Level: 
Pre-intermediate: A2