EFL Songs Page


Songs, according to many scholars, are among the best ways of teaching a foreign language. The authors of Spectrum (Prentice-Hall Regents Publications) state that "Songs are an important aspect of culture, representing the history, folklore, and current idiom of a country.(...) Singing can build students’ confidence by allowing them to enjoy a degree of fluency in English before they have achieved it in speaking." Also,songs can be incorporated to all language skills ( listening, reading, writing and speaking).

Here are some techniques and procedures when using music in the EFL classroom:

1. Cloze

This is possibly the way that most teachers use songs. Choose a song that has some connection with the structure or part of speech that you are teaching. Delete a few words from the lyric and hand the incomplete lyric to the students. For lower levels, you can include the deleted words in the bottom of the page ( of course, out of order) Hand out the incomplete lyric to the students and play the song a few times, depending on the level of the song. Students listen and complete the missing words. Then hand out the complete lyric (or write the missing words on the board). Give the students some time for correction and answer any vocabulary questions. Then play the song again , asking the students to join in and sing (they might not be aware of that, but by doing so they are actually practicing pronunciation and stress)!!

As a follow-up, you can prepare a sheet pointing out a grammatical point that you might want the students to learn at that point, and have a structural or communicative activity after that. Some great songs that can be used for specific grammatical purposes:

Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight (simple present tense)

The Beatles’ Hello,Goodbye (beginning levels), I’m So Tired ( so/such plus result clauses) and Penny Lane( use of the)

Tom Jobim’s How Insensitive (use of must as a logical conclusion)

Supertramp’s Logical Song ( adverbs vs. adjectives)

Queen’s Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon(days of the week, prepositions)

2. Topic Introduction

Many topics exist in an advanced/intermediate classes, and songs are great for some topics, such as love, jealousy, friendship, money, and many others. You can give the song in cloze form or simply the whole thing just for introduction. Again, you can have a communicative activity as a follow-up to the topic, such as a role-playing activity.

Some suggestions are:

Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Queen’s Friends Will Be Friends (Topic: Friendship)

John Lennon’s Jealous Guy (topic: Jealousy)

Pink Floyd’s Money (economy/business)

Eric Clapton’s Nobody Loves You (When You’re down and Out)

Bonnie Raitt’s Thing Called Love (love)

3. Singalong Videos

Singalong videos are great because they have the lyrics on screen and students have fun watching the visuals while they sing. They are also easily available. My personal favorites are The Beatles Singalong Video and Singalong With Disney

4. Relaxing

Relaxing is great for opening a class, as long as if it’s not early in the morning, which might put the students to sleep. Play a slow song (classical, if you wish) and have students close their eyes. Guide them through and imaginary "trip" such as to an island, or through the mountains. This kind of activity is great for stressed adults that have come home from work and feel uncomfortable for being in class. You’ll be surprised by the results.

5. BGM (Background Music)

I personally enjoy having music in the background while I teach. Just select a calm tape (or cd) and let it play, in low volume, during the whole class. It works by relaxing the students and making them feel a little more comfortable in class, making the atmosphere a bit more informal.

The below link has some examples of song activities that I use. Feel free to use them anytime, but be creative and make some of your own.

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