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
  • 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 might 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.

***  April 2017  ***

Activity. In his book The Poetry of Pop, Adam Bradley points out that the chorus of the song “Say Something” is a poem written in dactylic trimeter—a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, repeated three times in every line. That predictable stress pattern makes the chorus ideal for reading aloud. I posted the chorus, with the accented syllables in bold, at the end of Activity #6: Singing or Speaking the Chorus. In my class, we broke the activity into 3 parts: We read all the lyrics while listening to the song (audio only version by A Great Big World), then practiced speaking the chorus, and finally watched the video of the Pentatonix cover of the song. At the end of the lesson, I asked my students, “What did you think of the song?” Their answer: “Beautiful.” 4/13/17

Grammar-focused Lesson Plan. If you’re looking for a song with a lot of participial phrases, “Don’t Stop Believin’” would be the one to pick. A bonus is that the song’s upbeat chorus (Don’t stop believin’ / Hold on to that feelin’) infuses the lesson with positive energy. Although over 30 years old, “Don’t Stop Believin’” continues to be one of the most downloaded songs in the U.S. My students loved the song—some were looking for it on their smart phones even before they left the classroom. Added under “Lesson Plans.” 4/5/17

Story. The lesson plan for “Don’t Stop Believin’” (see above) includes a story about Journey’s new lead singer, who is from the Philippines. The story is particularly powerful when combined with the music video of Journey’s concert in Manila. You’ll find the story, as well as a link to the video, on the navigation bar under “Stories.” After we read this story in class, one of my students asked, “Is it true?” To the best of my knowledge, the story is true.

***  March 2017  ***

Song and Lesson Plan. The new song “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay is climbing the charts worldwide; it is currently one of the top downloaded songs in the U.S. It’s about a woman who says her boyfriend (the singer) doesn’t need to be a superhero—she likes him as he is. I decided to bring the song into my class because it repeats the contraction wanna—a pronunciation of want to that is rarely included in grammar books or practiced in the classroom but is common in informal spoken English. You’ll find an interactive activity that gives students practice using wanna, a discussion activity, annotated lyrics, and links to suggested music videos under the “Lesson Plans” heading. The song was added on the List of Songs page under the theme “Falling in Love.” 3/16/17

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.