Home / Indian Music Chart / Teaching English through Music, A Practical Guide for Teachers – CityU of Seattle
Christie Cassel headshot by Christie Cassel, ELP Instructor
Do you love music ? Most people do, at least to some degree. We connect with music on an emotional level and the lyrics can become imprint our brain ( for better or worse ). Can you think of attention-getting lyrics in a foreign language that you ’ ll never forget ? Feliz Navidad ? Thanks to that birdcall, most Americans know how to say “ Merry Christmas ” in Spanish. Do you frequently think of songs that have content relevant to your classes or are filled with a grammar construction you are teaching, but are not indisputable how to use the song in class ?
From the research I have come across, using english songs in class can help students increase motivation, acquire new vocabulary, reinforce grammar, and improve memory, among other benefits. See “ for future take ” at the end of this article for choose resources on the topic or do your own. The research is out there and not hard to find. Most teachers are aware of at least some of the pedagogical justifications for teaching English though music in hypothesis, however, it is not the “ why ” that prevents teachers from using songs in their classes but the “ how. ” Preparing a sung listen action for a class can be time-consuming and possibly not all that productive in the end, but if you try my bit-by-bit instructions, you might be able to avoid some of the common pitfalls .
Find a song. not amazingly, this can be the hardest share ! so many songs are besides debauched, the words and phrases have different stress patterns when spill the beans than when spoken, the grammar is bad, the lyrics are inappropriate, etc. etc. Look for songs that have a decelerate footstep, minimal instrumentality, clear voice and enunciation. A estimable rule of thumb is : if you can ’ t distinctly learn each discussion without looking up the lyrics, your students likely won ’ metric ton understand a matter, and it will be noise to them.

Consider your objective. The first few times I prepared a birdcall activity, once in graduate school, and later as an teacher, I felt like I was pulling vocabulary words out randomly with little to no connection to the objectives of the course. then, it clicked ! Parts of lecture, I thought, that is what this is about. sol many of our students struggle with parts of language and word forms. It is one of the most common spell errors I see at all levels. Of course, you can make a song heed activity about a variety of objectives, but mine is typically building parts of speech awareness or verb tenses .
Put the material together. For every song, I have 3 documents : the broad lyrics, the cloze ( a overtone version of the lyrics with choice words taken out and replaced with a blank ), and the missing words ( like a word bank ) in column organized by parts of language. First, I find the full lyrics for the song on-line, copy and paste into a document, and reformat consequently. then, I save it into my ESL ( English as a second linguistic process ) songs folder. future, I decide what words I am going to take out. This becomes the language objective or grammar focus .
Let ’ s use I Can ’ t Help Falling in Love with You by Elvis Presley as an model, a song that you are probably familiar with, but probably seaport ’ thymine considered viable material for an ESL class. If you think it ’ s excessively romanticist, don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate worry. Have fun with it. american samoa long as you ’ re not embarrassed, your students won ’ triiodothyronine be either. This birdcall is chalked full moon of cover girl present-tense verb and basic nouns, and that ’ s precisely what I would take out for the cloze. It is arrant for beginning to intermediate level students .

Nouns Present Tense Verbs
life (2 times)
hand ( 2 times )
drop the ball
goes (2 times)
help (5 times)
flows ( 2 times )


Pro tip : For maximum efficiency, american samoa soon as you save the entire lyrics document, save the current document as the cloze and create a third base document for the miss words. Most of the function is going back and forth between the cloze and the word bank document and cutting and pasting into a postpone, organized by parts of language. systematically cut from the cloze and paste into the word deposit table, and be careful that there is a one-to-one parallelism of words .
In class : Do the natural process in the inverse order of the documents. First, pre-teach the missing words in the word bank and encourage note-taking. They might already know a lot of the vocabulary, so it may be a good opportunity for the students to express that they know the mean by explaining it or using it in some manner. You could besides do some pronunciation rehearse here. then, listen to the song with the cloze. Some philosophies recommend listening to the sung first with no inputs, and ideally that might be better, but I find that for the sake of time, I tend to listen with the cloze on the first heed. Check in and see how they are doing. If you want to make the focus more about parts of lecture, you can challenge them to solve the perplex by the parts of actor’s line clues entirely. For model, “ there ’ s an article here, so what kind of word must go here ? ” If you want it to be more about heed, then you can challenge the students to figure out what the words are with their ears lone .
Singing : the ice on the cake. After you have listened to the song respective times and puzzled out the missing words, if clock time allows and your students are up for it, you can sing the song together. Some groups are more uncoerced than others. That being said, I have found that even a diffident group will be excited about singing if you are. Depending on prison term, you could first sing along with the music and then try a karaoke version ( if one exists ). This progress could besides be carried out over several classes. You can always bring back old songs for karaoke arsenic well .
Note : I have found a grammar stress to be more applicable and versatile that a vocabulary one. It ’ s improbable that you can find a song with the prey vocabulary in it, but grammatical structures are everywhere in songs and tend to be consistent. In other words, songs are likely to stay in one or two verb tenses and have a reoccurring theme of using a set of one grammatical structure or another. For case, She ’ ll Come Back to Me by CAKE, and Sunday Table by Pink Martini are wax of pronouns ( subject, aim and possessive ) and possessive adjectives. rather than having the accurate missing words listed for them, you could have a postpone that includes the complete list and make them think about what is possible in the lyrics of the song .

Subject Pronouns Object Pronouns Possessive Pronouns Possessive Adjectives
 I me mine my
you you yours your
we us ours our
he him his his
she her hers her
it it its its
they them theirs their

I hope you find this matter-of-fact lead helpful and inspire to try using a song in a heed and speaking class. I have found these activities to be ideal for lower levels, but, depending on the song, language objectives, and personality and interests of your students, anything is potential. I once made high intermediate students do karaoke presentations, and they acted like they hated it at inaugural, but it ended up being one of the highlights of the seance. dependable luck and have fun !
For further reading :
language Learning Enhanced by Music and Song
Teaching and Learning English through Songs : A Literature Review
New Ideas for Teaching english Using Songs and Music

Published December 3, 2018