How To Use Songs To Teach English: Six Ideas For Customizable Lesson Plans Your Students Will Love!

Welcome to the Song Activity Factory! The place to be if you believe in the power of songs to teach English!

YOU feel that music has the power to make your students come alive in class! YOU know that your students like music, and that bringing a song is a great idea!   

HOWEVER, you also know that you need TIME, CREATIVITY and ENERGY to do this! It takes a lot of time to find a good song. It takes even longer to come up with an interesting activity.

THE IDEAS in this post are going to make this process easier, faster and more efficient for you, and you know that this is what we’ve been craving for in 2020! (insert nervous laughter)

I believe that a song has an almost infinite potential for teaching the four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), as well as engaging students in collaborative and communicative activities that promote critical and creative thinking.

This post aims at saving you HEADACHES and BURNOUTS. I’m going to give you some IDEAS you can use with almost any song you have at hand.

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Your students will thank you for that!

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.

E. Y. Harburg, musician

So, here are Six Ideas For Customizable Lesson Plans Your Students Will Love:

1- EMAIL FEELINGS

How about preparing your students for the Cambridge English First (FCE) writing and speaking papers and, at the same time, providing some relaxing fun time with a song/music video? That’s what ‘EMAIL FEELINGS’ is all about.

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity!

Example of a lesson plan using this idea: Sasha Sloan – Older

FOR MORE SONG-BASED LESSON PLANS FOR CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH EXAMS, CHECK THIS POST

2- MUSICAL DIALOGUE

In this lesson plan, students get creative and collaborate to write a dialogue for a video based on the lyrics of the song. They also work the lyrics with an interactive worksheet and much more!

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity! 

Example of a lesson plan using this idea: Now United – Feel it Now

3- MUSICAL QUOTES 

IN THIS ACTIVITY, students identify famous people in photos, read quotes and talk about them. They also read sentences from the song, and creatively collaborate to match them to images with speech bubbles.

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity!

Example of a lesson plan using this idea:  Alec Benjamin – MAtch in the Rain

FOR MORE SONG-BASED LESSON PLANS THAT PROMOTE THE FOUR C’S, CHECK THIS POST

4- LYRICAL WORD CLOUD 

This lesson plan IDEA  is based on a WORD CLOUD with song lyrics, and students work in pairs to speculate and predict words in the lyrics based on the song title, giving reasons for their choices.

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity!

This is one example of this activity in a lesson plan: OneRepublic – Better Days

5- MUSICAL SCENES 

If you have a SONG, but don’t know what to do with it, TRY THIS IDEA to ignite your students’ creativity and give them opportunities to collaborate and use critical thinking to work speaking, writing, listening and reading skills!

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity!

SEE THE LESSON PLAN BELOW FOR AN EXAMPLE OF THIS IDEA IN ACTION!

The step-by-step lesson plan below is part of the EXCLUSIVE SUBSCRIBER CONTENT 12. You can receive extra lesson plans like this every week by subscribing to this blog via email. 🙂

STEP-BY STEP LESSON PLAN (Musical Scenes using the song “Baby It’s You by London Grammar)

Step 1 – (7min)

Tell your students you’re going to play a song and you want them to imagine the song is part of a movie scene. Play the song once. Have them think of the following questions (slide 1) and write down their answers:

1 What’s going on in the scene?
2 Where are the people?
3 Who is in the scene?
4 What are they feeling? Why?
5 Is it in the beginning or the ending of the movie? Why do you think so?

Play the song again if necessary.

Step 2 – (12 min)

Have students share their ideas with a partner (breakout rooms). After sharing, they have to mix the two ideas and write a short narrative. Obs. tell them to write it on a notepad or doc, so it gets easier for them to paste it to the collaborative doc later.

Step 3 (5 min)

Back to the main room, share the link to the collaborative Google doc with spaces for the pairs to paste their narratives.

Step 4 (5 min)

Highlight the mistakes. Give the pairs 2 min to correct them.

Step 5 ( 7 min)

Show the slide with the lyrics. Students read. Help with the vocabulary. Ask students if the lyrics fit the narrative they wrote in step 3 and explain.

Step 6 (7 min)

Have students work in their pairs again to include one dialogue using the exact words from one part of the lyrics in their narratives. Give them 5 – 7 min

Step 7 (7 min)

Students read all the narratives and vote on the most interesting, surprising, the craziest, etc

Step 8 (5 min)

Play the music video. Students compare what happens in it to what they wrote and say if they liked it or not and why

To access the extra materials for this song-based lesson plan, subscribe to this blog via email or send an email to exclusivesaf@gmail.com.

6- MUSIC VIDEO LOTTERY 

This one is based on a music video and students work in groups to predict images they are going to see, and give reasons for their choices.

WATCH the video below for a step-by-step guide to preparing and applying this activity!

How to adapt this activity for online classes:

Instead of making sets for each team, use a slide showing the photos of the items. Students choose their options based on them.  Put the groups in breakout rooms and give them some time to choose the pictures.

When the time’s up, Have the groups send their list of things via chat box, for you to check later who got more right answers. Have students from the groups explain their choices.

I hope you make great use of these IDEAS and that your students and YOU, have lots of fun!

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Happy teaching!  🙂

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