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
  • 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.
  • Updates on Facebook: This site now has a companion Facebook page, where I’ll post notifications of newly added songs, activities, and lesson plans.

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.

***  October 2016  ***

  • Drawing activity for the song “And We Sang La Da.” In this activity, 12 students illustrate lines from the song. You play the music, and the students come to the front of the room with their drawings when they hear their lines. I had come across this activity a long time ago, but hesitated to try it with adults, thinking that perhaps it was more appropriate for younger learners. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked great in my class of adults, partly because there was only one person among us (an architect) who could actually draw. But while our pictures were short on finesse, they were big on creativity, and there was a lot of good-natured chuckling when we viewed them. The activity created a lot of interest, and the bonus was that it gave students even more exposure to the song’s past-tense verbs. Please see the Grammar + Songs page for the 12 lines my students illustrated. 10/19/16
  • cynthia chitkoLyrics cloze exercise for the song “And We Sang La Da.” I first heard this song by singer/songwriter Cynthia Chitko on the radio while driving, and I liked it so much that I downloaded it for my personal library. While listening to it one day, I realized the song is ideal for language learning: The lyrics are straightforward and clear, the tempo slow. But the big bonus is that the song uses 16 verbs in the simple past tense—6 regular and 10 irregular—to tell a story. (The story has a “reconnecting with a lost love” theme.) With Ms. Chitko’s permission, I’ve posted a lyrics cloze exercise that asks students to fill in the past-tense verbs. The exercise is in two places—on the Grammar + Songs page, and at the end of Activity #1: Targeted Cloze. You can listen to the song at Reverbnation (click on “all songs”) and purchase it from iTunes. 10/8/16
  •  Story suggestions. I sometimes pair the songs on this site not only with stories in the True Stories Behind the Songs textbooks but with other stories in the True Stories reading toy yoda, dreamstimeseries. For example, Bruce Springsteen’s “Pay Me My Money Down” works well with the story “The Last Laugh” in True Stories in the News, about a waitress who is promised a Toyota as a prize for being the top employee and gets, ha, ha, a toy Yoda instead. (When she takes her boss to court, she gets the last laugh.) You’ll find more ideas for pairing songs with thematically related stories under “Teaching Tips” on the List of Songs page. 10/3/16

               ***  September 2016  ***

  • New page: Grammar + Songs. I’ve been bringing songs into my classroom my whole career, but it’s only recently that I began using songs to teach grammar.  Now I pair grammar topics with songs whenever I can. family treeOn this new page, you’ll find activities, worksheets, and songs to pair with specific grammar topics. For example, the song “I Will Remember You” is paired with an activity that gives students practice forming sentences in the simple past while imagining how their descendants will remember them. 9/7/16
  • Lyrics cloze exercise for the song “Baby, I’m Yours.” The exercise targets the many adverb clauses beginning with the word until. If you use Azar’s Understanding and Using English Grammar, this song would work well with Chapter 17. The exercise is for levels high intermediate and advanced. Please see Activity #1: Targeted Cloze. Scroll to the end for the worksheet. 9/5/16
  • The Beatles’ song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Added under the theme “Living Simply.” This song uses the simple future tense (will + a verb in the simple form) to make promises (I’ll buy you a diamond ringI’ll give you all I’ve got to give, etc.). For a lyrics cloze exercise focusing on this construction, please see Activity #1: Targeted Cloze. Scroll to the end for the worksheet. 9/4/16
  • Lyrics cloze exercise for the song “Because You Loved Me.” If you’re looking for a song with lots of verbs in the simple past, it doesn’t get much better than this one. It has 19 past-tense verbs, 5 regular and 14 irregular. (The irregular verbs are: was, were, brought, could, found, gave, had, held, let, lost, made, said, saw, and stood.) Please see Activity #1: Targeted Cloze for a chart of the past-tense verbs and a lyrics cloze exercise targeting them. Scroll to the end of the page for the exercise. The verbs are repeated throughout the song, so students will write the past-tense forms a total of 66 times. 9/1/16

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.