Nine Creative Ways to use a Song with “BAD LYRICS” for English Language Teaching

WELCOME to the SONG ACTIVITY FACTORY!

Here is the place to be if you believe in the power of songs to teach English!

Today, I want to share possible solutions for a common problem.

THE PROBLEM

The language of this song is too hard for this class level!” “Oh, gosh! These lyrics are too lame! :s ” “Oh my, the music video is so nice, but the lyrics ” “There’s nothing I can do or teach with this song, it’s pure trash!” 

Sometimes, we have a HARD TIME choosing a song to use with our ELT groups, and most of these times it’s a song we know our students want and would love to work with in class.

THE SOLUTION

Today, I am sharing 9 ideas to expand the use of songs to teach English without using the lyrics.

How could we achieve that? 

By focusing on the FACTS of a specific song and not the lyrics. The FACTS can be all the things related to the song excluding the lyrics.

You can use them to engage, to set the stage, and also to provide opportunities for students to do more daring things. At the same time, you can work all 4 skills in different combinations to promote collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.

Now, without further delay, here are

9 things you can do with SONG FACTS:

9: Use Movie Reviews

Skills: Reading + Speaking

IDEA:

The song you’re going to use may be part of a movie soundtrack. In this case, students can read part of this movie review and, in pairs, say if they’d like to see that movie or not, and why.

Example of a movie review extract (source: https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/10/15/maleficent-mistress-of-evil-review)

“It’s been five years since Angelina Jolie took on the iconic role of Maleficent, reimagining the stylish but one-note villain from Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty for a whole new generation. Its sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is a definite step up from the first movie by expanding the story beyond its fairy tale inspiration and bringing in compelling new characters (and actors to play them), though it is held back by pacing issues.

(…)Though you don’t need to have seen the first film to enjoy Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, this sequel gets the audience up to speed from its opening “Once Upon a Time” intro. It follows on directly from the end of that fairytale with Aurora living as the Queen of the Moors (the fairy folk), but both their lives are upended when Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) asks Aurora to marry him, setting off a devastating chain of events.”

The example above could be used as a song fact for “You Can’t Stop The Girl” by Bebe Rexha, which is in the soundtrack of this movie.

 8: Use Movie Reviews + Pictures

I’ll split this IDEA into steps to make it easier to follow:

Step 1. Students read 3 movie reviews, and match them to pictures from the movies.

Step 2. They compare their answers in pairs, and say which of the 3 movies they’d like to watch and why.

Step 3. Play the song you are going to use and have students guess which of the 3 movies it is from.

7: Use Movie Titles/ Movie Trailers/ Movie Reviews

If a song is part of a movie soundtrack, you can use the movie TITLE and the movie TRAILER.

Step 1. students read the title and say what movie genre they think it is.

Step 2. They watch the trailer and check. They can also read the movie review (an extract, preferably the initial paragraph only), instead.

6: Use Song Titles

Step 1. Write the song TITLE on the board.

Step 2. In the chat box, students write all the words they associate with that title

Step 3. Write them on the board

Step 4  In pairs, students categorize the words and put them into lists for later discussion.

5: Use Movie Trailers 2

Students watch the movie trailer and do a gap-fill exercise with the script from the trailer.

Later you can ask comprehension questions and students can also say if they’d like to watch it or not, etc., adding some speaking skills to the mix.

4: Students Make Netflix Trailers

What if the song is part of a TV show soundtrack?

In this case, students can plan and record a netflix-like trailer for a new TV show/series based on the song instead.

Extra idea: Why not go full on creativity and have your students  make a poster for the new TV show/series?

3: Students Write TV Show Reviews

Students write a review for the new  song-based TV show they’ve just created.

2:Use Background Facts

Students read 3 facts about the song (How did this song get created? Who contributed to it? In what scenario, context was this song created? Was there any important news, historical or biographical fact that led to the creation of this song?) and decide which one is real (the other two are fake).

1: Go Back in Time

Step 1. In small groups, students read about three other songs that debuted on the same date in the past, and answer questions about them. Ex. Do you know this song/singer? What do you know about them? Which of these songs would you like to listen to and why?

Step 2. The whole class has a vote to listen to or watch the music video (if appropriate) for the most voted song.

LIKE THE IDEAS? Your feedback is important to me because I don’t have time to use all the ideas I have with my own students ! LOL So, please help me to improve these ideas and activities!

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Happy teaching!  🙂

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2 comments

  1. Excellent material. Thanks.

    El sáb., 15 de may. de 2021 1:54 p. m., Song Activity Factory escribió:

    > Márcia “Mars” Bonfim posted: ” WELCOME to the SONG ACTIVITY FACTORY! Here > is the place to be if you believe in the power of songs to teach English! > Today, I want to share possible solutions for a common problem. THE PROBLEM > “The language of this song is too hard for this” >

    Like

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