Although I know I like using music in my teaching, I never thought there would be so much of it on this blog when I started it over a year ago. Songs are fun, authentic sources with multiple possibilities in the classroom, but the main reason for having published 14 lesson plans and activities based on songs here is to a large extent due to copyright issues: while lyrics and songs are easily available for everyone online, access to other types of authentic texts is more limited because of copyright constraints. I also think the key to a successful song-based lesson is to deal with the text as you would with any other type of short text, whether written or oral, to practise a variety of comprehension skills, work on specific grammar and vocabulary, or introduce a topic for discussion.
Choosing a song that meets the students’ needs is not always easy, though. Apart from lyrics in standard English that are not too difficult to follow, the students shouldn’t be too familiar with them if you’re planning to do some language work with them. I think songs that focus on universal themes such as love, friendship or personal feelings, or songs that tell a story, are bound to work better no matter the music style. Most importantly, they are also more likely to adapt to our specific learning objectives.
The school year will be over for me in a few weeks, and I thought a post compiling these song-based lessons would be a good idea for future reference — but also to end the blogging season on a musical note!
Listening for specific information
1. The students listen for specific information by writing an explanation for each of the words, names or pictures in this timeline based on “Kilkelly, Ireland”, a song in which family news, including births and deaths, are shared for a period of thirty-two years.
2. “The Marvelous Toy” is used here to get the students to extract the main idea and listen for specific information and details that will be later used to write a paragraph.
Listening for the main idea
3. Before working on an extract from Coleridge’s poem, the students become familiar with the plot of the story by listening to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as they put several pictures in the right order.
Working on specific reading comprehension skills
4. In Parties, Story Maps and All That Jazz, the students work on comprehension skills, identifying and analysing story elements, making predictions and discussing the events in the story.
5. By making predictions, reading between the lines or establishing connections both within the text and with the world outside, the students practise a wide variety of reading comprehension skills in this lesson based on “Tom’s Diner”.
6. Students use context clues to fill in extracts from ten songs!
Focusing on pronunciation
7. Using the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, students recognise and practise the various features of connected speech which make the stress pattern and rhythm of English so distinctive.
Practising specific structures and vocabulary
8. Adding and deleting words from texts allow students to use their grammatical knowledge to manipulate sentences, play with the language, and analyse the impact each of these changes have on meaning. In this activity, students add and delete words from two songs following certain rules.
9. In “Big Yellow Taxi”, the students find two words in each sentence which should change places with each other in order to make sense.
10. Paul Simon’s song is used here to provide practice on reported speech structures and reporting verbs.
Revising language structures and vocabulary
Spelling, word order, context clues, inferences or sentence structure, including agreement, number or different tenses, are just some of the language skills the students will be practising in the last four lessons and activities:
11. “Your Song”
Don’t Get Me Wrong!
13.“Lean On Me”
Thanks so much for reading!