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.
- 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.
Lyrics Gap-Fill Worksheet. Sometimes while looking for music videos for my students, I come across something unexpected–like this 2018 cover of the old Willie Nelson song “Crazy,” recorded in what appears to be someone’s living room. The vocabulary is simple, the tempo is slow, and the diction is clear–plus the song is loaded with gerunds! In other words, it’s a great video to bring into the classroom. I added a lyrics gap-fill exercise on the Grammar + Songs page under “Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions.” 7/14/19
Grammar Worksheet. The song “I Don’t Care” has many verbs in their simple form. A lyrics gap-fill exercise targeting those verbs, followed by an interactive activity in which students use the verbs, was added to the Lesson Plan for this song as well as on the Grammar + Songs page. A link to Sheeran’s simple acoustic version of the song was also added to these pages. 6/28/19
Grammar Worksheet. Bruce Springsteen has just come out with a new album called Western Stars. When classes resume in the fall, I’m going to use the song “Tucson Train” to review verb tenses with my intermediate-level students. A lyrics gap-fill exercise targeting five of the tenses in the song is on the Grammar + Songs page. It’s the last item under the “Verb Tenses” category. 6/24/19
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
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 email@example.com. This is my personal e-mail address. Your address will not be shared, and you will not get ads or promotions of any kind.