Using Songs to Teach English: Five ideas to make students speak (and enjoy the process)

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” E. Y. Harburg

Song Activity Factory came to life mainly to help English language teaching professionals who feel that music in the form of songs surely has a fitting place in the ELT classroom. However, trying to find a ready-made song activity that features neither an ‘ancient’ song nor the most boring – and dreaded by students – type of exercise: gap filling, is time-consuming and mostly fruitless.

The song-based activities and lesson plans you find at Song activity Factory aim to motivate and engage students in a creative and fun way. In this post, you will see 5 ideas plus examples of song-based activities you can use to make your students speak more.

1. Use related quotes, song titles or opinions

Sometimes, the best way to get students talking is to fire them up with either some controversial quotes, good song titles that give way to multiple interpretations, or even some extracts from the lyrics that are sure to catch their interest.

Here comes the change

Broken & beautiful

2. Use related images or music video stills

A good picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and in this case, it can be the reason for precious words coming from your students! A carefully chosen picture that has a connection to the theme of the song you are going to use, can serve as a great speaking motivator. Good music videos are scarce, but every now and then, a good one comes out whose story and images fit like a glove to get your students creating stories and speaking a lot in the process.

No matter what

Sing it with me

3. Challenge them as a team

Students love the opportunity to interact with each other. Having them work in teams with a song is sure to break the ice and the routine.

Watch & catch

Come out and play

Better man

4. Make them move

Every opportunity you give your students to be able to move in class is sure to bring energy to everyone involved! Movement instantly brings energy to anything you want to do, and the more energy they have, the easier it is to get them to speak.

Happier

Can we pretend

5. Pair them wisely

Pair work has the magical effect of making students more confident when it is time to share their ideas with the whole class. This can be much more effective if you pair shy students with other shy students. This works much better than pairing a talkative student with a shy one who will happily let the other monopolize the conversation. Additionally, pairing shy students together will force them to say something. It is worth trying, you may be surprised with the results!

Losing my religion

On a roll

These are just a few ideas that could be adapted in a way that is sure to turn those English teaching moments into enjoyable, motivating and fun experiences for your students, no matter where in the world you teach!

Share these ideas to help other teachers and happy teaching!

Published by

Márcia "Mars" Bonfim

I am a traveling teacher living my dream of world travel while making it possible for others to live the reality of their own dreams. I'm a member of the TESOL International Association, and I've been teaching since 1993.

2 thoughts on “Using Songs to Teach English: Five ideas to make students speak (and enjoy the process)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s