Home

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.

***June 2019***

Activity. On the Facebook page for Songs and Activities for English Language Learners, Kathryne Lyons suggested this follow-up activity for the song “Tom’s Diner”: For homework, she had her students pretend they were sitting in a public place (restaurant, library, park, etc.) and write their observations in the present progressive tense. She also suggested Suzanne Vega’s a cappella version of the song, which was posted to YouTube last summer. Both of these great suggestions were added to the Lesson Plan for “Tom’s Diner.” Thank you, Kathryne! 6/12/19

Worksheet. The song “True Colors” has 10 adjectives. The worksheet is a lyrics cloze exercise, suitable for levels beginning and up. The worksheet was added to both the Lesson Plan for “True Colors” and the Grammar + Songs page. 6/7/19

Lesson Plan. A recent positive development for English-language teaching is that record companies have begun providing their own “official” lyric videos for hit songs. The advantage of licensed lyric videos is that they don’t have misspellings, and they aren’t taken down from YouTube, as unlicensed videos often are. Cyndi Lauper just released a lyric video for her 1986 song “True Colors.” I’ve posted a few lesson plans ideas (including one for the end of the school year), but this video would also work well just on its own. 6/5/19

*** May 2019 ***

Grammar Worksheet. The phrase “should have” + past participle is used to express regret for past mistakes. Perhaps no song expresses that sentiment better than “Always on My Mind,” which repeats the phrase several times. An interactive worksheet that gives students practice using the construction “should have” + past participle is on the Grammar + Songs page. Follow up with Willie Nelson’s performance of the song. 5/21/19

Lesson Plan. Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber have collaborated on a new song, “I Don’t Care.” The song is about being anxious at a party, so in my intermediate-level class of adults, I followed up with the topic of making small talk in social settings like parties. I posted some ideas for activities that worked well in my class. (Some language in the song might make it inappropriate for your class. Previewing the lyrics is recommended.)

Online Audio Recordings. Audio recordings of all the stories in True Stories Behind the Songs (a beginning reading textbook) and More True Stories Behind the Songs (a high-beginning reading textbook) are now online–no access code, password, or registration required. Go to the Pearson catalog site and, at the top of the page, click on “Stories Behind Songs Audio.” On this site, you’ll find lesson plans to accompany two of these newly available recordings of the stories: “Ring of Fire” and “You’re Beautiful.

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.