Song Pieces! Adding Novelty to ELT

plant-949111_640        Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay   
Introducing a new, fun and original ELT activity, SONG PIECES! containing short song extracts from which students have to listen to specific things in the song lyrics.

In this ELT song activity students work in teams and listen to 10 different short song extracts and have to identify different grammar structures and vocabulary in each one.

Language level: all levels
Learner type: All ages
Skills: listening and writing
Topic: varied
Language and grammar: prepositions, clothes, adjectives, parts of the house, frequency adverbs, comparatives, superlatives, simple past verbs, colors, numbers, will future
Materials: edited mp3 files for the songs used 
Duration: 20 - 30 minutes

Downloadable materials:  instructions; Song Extracts (mp3 files) 


Step 1. Divide students into pairs or trios, and tell them they are going to listen to various extracts of songs and in each one, they have to listen to different things and write them down on a blank sheet of paper.

Step 2. Before playing each extract, say what you want the students to listen to and make sure they know it. In order to do that ask them if they can give you examples of the words they must listen to.

Step 3. Tell them they have 3 chances to try to get the right word. Then, play the first extract 3 times and they write down the answer for number 1.

Step 4. Check what the teams wrote down and assign points. (1 for each right word, if there is more than 1 word in the recording)

Step 5. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 for the next song extracts. The team with more points, in the end, is the winner!

Things to be found in each song extract:
Song 1: prepositions   (answer: behind/ under) 
Song 2: something people wear (answer: shoes)
Song 3: an adjective (answer: easy)
Song 4: parts of a house (answer kitchen/bathroom)
Song 5: an adverb of frequency (answer: never)
Song 6: verbs in the past (answer: said/ started / saw/ knew/ got) variation 1: comparative (answer: older); variation 2: part of the body (answer: shoulder)
Song 7: adverb of frequency (answer: always); variation 1: colors (answer: black / blue);  variation 2: verbs in the future (answer: I will fight/ I will stay)
Song 8: a superlative (answer: best); variation: adjectives (answer: happy / good / crazy)
Song 9: a number (answer seven); variation: verb in the present continuous (answer: I’m driving)
Song 10: a comparative (answer: bigger)

Songs featured in this activity:
Song 01 - Ease My Mind - Ben Platt
Lyrics key: Darling, only you can ease my mind
Help me leave these lonely thoughts behind
When they pull me under, and I can feel my sanity start to unwind
Darling, only you can ease my mind

Song 02 - Not giving In - Tom Walker
Lyrics key: I don't pretend to understand
What it's like, stood in your shoes
But I would try them on for you
'Cause I hate to see you fade away
On the corner where you lay
Beggin' passers-by for change

Song 03 - Someone you loved - Lewis Capaldi
Lyrics key: I need somebody to heal
Somebody to know
Somebody to have
Somebody to hold
It's easy to say
But it's never the same
I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the pain

Song 04 - Let me down slowly - Alec Benjamin
Lyrics key: This night is cold in the kingdom
I can feel you fade away
From the kitchen to the bathroom sink and
Your steps keep me awake
Don't cut me down, throw me out, leave me here to waste
I once was a man with dignity and grace
Now I'm slipping through the cracks of your cold embrace
So please

Song 05 - After You - Meghan Trainor
Lyrics key: Won't be anybody after you
And even if one day, our time is through
Won't be anybody after you
After you
I'll never find another lover after you
If you have to go, be my ghost
Hope you haunt my dreams

Song 06 - Fire on Fire - Sam Smith
Lyrics key: My mother said I'm too romantic
She said, "You're dancing in the movies"
I almost started to believe her
Then I saw you and I knew
Maybe it's 'cause I got a little bit older
Maybe it's all that I've been through
I'd like to think it's how you lean on my shoulder
And how I see myself with you

Song 07 - Don’t give up on me - Andy Grammar
Lyrics key: I will fight
I will fight for you
I always do until my heart
Is black and blue
And I will stay
I will stay with you

Song 8 - Thick and Thin - Lany
Lyrics key: What are you thinking?
You were happy last weekend
All the good times
How'd you forget?
I was your best friend, yeah
Remember when you said
You could see your whole life with me baby
Now you got me thinking that I'm crazy

Song 09 - Seven Minutes - Dean Lewis
Lyrics key: It doesn't seem that long but my whole world has changed
It's in all the little things, when you smile, now it stings
It's been seven minutes since I've lost the girl of my dreams
It's been half an hour now since I dropped you home
And I'm driving past the places we both know
Past the bar where we first kissed
And that movie that we missed
'Cause we were hanging out in the parking lot

Song 10 - Got it in You - Banners
Lyrics key: You gave all that sweat and blood,
Now you think you're gonna drown
You can't tell that you're bigger
Than the sea that you're sinking in
And you don't know what you
Got but you got it at your fingertips

That’s it for this week! I hope you all enjoy this new activity! 
Happy teaching!  :) 





















Big Love – The Black Eyed Peas



This ELT song activity is based on the song Big Love (The Black Eyed Peas) and it does NOT make use of the official music video  (some scenes it portrays may be shocking for most students, however if you consider it suitable for any specific class you have, use it at your own discretion.) 

In the activity, students talk about bullying, gun control, smart phones and war, read and share opinions about those topics, listen to the song, do listening exercises with a worksheet and the lyrics, scan QR codes, read and write a text for homework,

Language level: intermediate (B2) and above

Learner type: All ages

Skills: speaking, listening, reading & writing

Topic: current controversial issues

Language: Vocabulary related to bullying, guns, smartphones and war, expressions to agree, disagree and express opinions

Materials: cut out opinion + topic sheet + song activity Worksheet – smartphones or other digital device (tablet, laptop, etc) with a qr code reader app installed. Internet connection, wifi available for part 3.

Duration: 1 hour  (or 1h and 30 min if you have time to do step 9 in class + HW)

Downloadable materials: Big Love- instructions; cut-out opinion/issue sheet; song worksheet; song audio mp3


Preparation for the activity:

Download and print the cut-out opinion/issue sheet; cut out as indicated and laminate it to make the sets. Make 1 copy per pair or trio of students.  Download and print the song worksheet. 1 per student.


Step 1.  Warm up – WHOLE CLASS:: Write/ project the following issues on the board:


Ask students if they think there is a connection between the four topics and what it is, or ask them which of the four is the most important for society right now and why. Have a vote and write the number of students in front of the issues on the board.  (about 5 minutes)

Step 2. IN PAIRS or TRIOS. Hand out the opinion+issue set, one for each pair/trio of students.

There are 4 pairs of opposite opinions for each of the four issues (bullying, gun control, war, smartphones).

The students’ task is to match the topics with their correspondent opinions.

Step 3. after the pairs or trios have finished matching the opinions and the topics, they are going to talk about the opinions they agree more or disagree and give their reasons. (about 10 minutes – step 1+ step 2)

Step 4. After discussing  in pairs/trios, the students share their opinions with the whole class and have  a short plenary discussion.


Step 5. Individual task. Hand out the song worksheet. It has two exercises: in exercise one, students have to listen to the song and number the verses, lines of the song as they listen to it.

Answer key exercise 1:   4   b. 2   c. 1 d. 3

Step 6. Individual task. In exercise 2 they have the complete lyrics of the song with 10 words removed. Their task is to listen to the song and fill in the blanks in the song lyrics with the words given.

Answer key exercise 2:  

  1. Leaders  2. Fire 3. Americans  4. Young 5. Hands 6. Hope  7. Life 8. Global  9. Believe 10. Violence

Step 7: Back to their original pairs/trios, the students identify which parts of the song in exercise 1 correspond to the issues they discussed in part 1 (bullying, gun control, war, smartphones) and what opinion the song expresses.

Step 8. They share their opinions with the whole class


OBS: If there is no time available in class, steps 9 and 10 can be done for homework and handed in the following class.

Step 9. Students choose the issue they want to read about, scan the correspondent QR code on their worksheet and read an article about that issue on Newsela. This is an excellent Instructional Content Platform that supercharges reading engagement and learning in every subject. Your students will be asked to make a profile there to read the whole article, it is free and fast.

blog song 2 codes

Urls for the articles





Step 10. Homework. Students write a paragraph or two with their opinion about the article they read in the previous step for the following class. (word limit 50 – 80 words)
That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoy this ELT song activity.

Feel free to leave some comments if you wish, and let me know how the activity worked out in your classes.

Happy teaching! 🙂