Like many teachers of the English language (ELL, ESL, EFL), I like to enrich my lessons with popular songs. On this site, you’ll find:

  • A list of over 200 classroom-friendly songs, organized by theme; many with links to recommended YouTube videos
  • Song-based activities
  • Lesson plan ideas for songs in two categories: Recent Hits and Classic Hits
  • A Grammar + Songs page with worksheets and songs to pair with specific grammar topics
  • Stories behind the songs, written at the beginning and high-beginning levels and reproducible for classroom use. These stories are available only on this site and are not in the textbooks listed below. Some stories have audio recordings and pre-reading animated drawings.

The songs and activities coordinate with the lessons in True Stories Behind the Songs (a beginning reading textbook) and More True Stories Behind the Songs (a high-beginning reading textbook), but they would work with other materials and curricula as well.

Getting Updates:

  • Updates on Facebook: This site has a companion Facebook page, where I’ll post notifications of newly added songs, activities, and lesson plans.
  • Following this blog on WordPress: Many of you are now following this blog on WordPress, which means you will get email for every post. You’ll probably get clusters of individual emails because newly added material is usually posted on several different pages. The quickest way to see exactly what’s new is to check here on the Home Page or on the Recently Added page. New songs, activities, and lesson plans are also posted on Facebook.

*** November 2017 ***

Song + Class Discussion / Grammar Worksheet. During the second week of November, Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” was the #1 downloaded song in the United States. The singer thinks back on his younger self, someone who was laughed at for having big dreams. But just as lightning precedes thunder, those big dreams led to a successful career. The song’s theme invites students to share what their dreams are. To structure the discussion, there’s a new worksheet at the end of Activity #3: Class Discussion on a Song’s Theme. The worksheet serves two purposes: it’s both a springboard to conversation and a subtle introduction to gerund phrases. (You don’t have to even mention the grammatical term–lower-level students can successfully complete the exercise. For higher levels, you could follow up with the “Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions” worksheet on the Grammar + Songs page.) 11/15/17

Song + Grammar Worksheet. At first listen, Selena Gomez’s “It Ain’t Me” comes across as a light-hearted pop song. But when you listen carefully to the lyrics, you realize that it’s a serious song about a relationship ruined by alcoholism—about having the resolve to walk away from an unhealthy relationship. The song repeats the phrase who’s gonna many times, so it could be used to practice using gonna in informal spoken English. The song was added on the List of Songs page and on the Grammar + Songs page, which has annotated lyrics and an interactive worksheet that gives students practice forming questions beginning Who’s gonna. 11/4/17

*** October 2017 ***

Links to YouTube videos. I’ve gotten feedback that the links to YouTube videos on the List of Songs page are helpful; for many teachers, YouTube is the only practical way to bring recordings of popular songs into their classrooms. So I’ve added dozens of links to YouTube videos, all of them, to the best of my knowledge, legally licensed. Most are designated “Recommended,” meaning they are appropriate for the vast majority of classrooms. (I’ve also gotten feedback that teachers find this vetting helpful.) I’ve added links to the first half of songs on the list. More links will follow at a later date. 10/1/17

To see the complete list of additions to this site, click on “Recently Added” on the navigation bar.

Do you have a suggestion for improving this site? A song or activity you’d like to share? Please e-mail me, Sandra Heyer, at songs@ticon.net. This is my personal e-mail address. Your address will not be shared, and you will not get ads or promotions of any kind.