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.
- 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.
*** February 2017 ***
- On February 12, the Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles. Three of the five songs that were nominated for Best Song are appropriate for most classrooms. They are “Hello,” “Love Yourself,” and “7 Years.” Lesson plans for these songs, including annotated lyrics, are on this site. Click on the song titles for the lesson plans. If your students don’t know which song won, you could play the nominated songs while students read the lyrics. Students could try to guess which song won. (It was Adele’s “Hello.”)
- February is Black History Month in the United States. Some songs you might consider bringing into your classroom this month are:
1. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Teaching suggestions are under the Lesson Plans heading.
2. “We Shall Overcome.” This song was an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. The story “I’m Not Moving” describes how the song is connected with Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of a Montgomery city bus. An activity in which students write their own lyrics to the song is under Activity 5. (It is Example 2.)
3. “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” This song, sung by jazz legend Nina Simone, was also an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. Teaching suggestions are under the Lesson Plans heading.
4. “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” According to legend, this song helped guide escaped slaves to the northern United States. The story and song lyrics are in Unit 7 of More True Stories Behind the Songs. 2/9/17
*** January 2017 ***
- Song and Lesson Plan. Ed Sheerhan’s latest single, “The Castle on the Hill,” is about his childhood home (which he says is “in the middle of nowhere”) and his old friends. So the song works well as a springboard for discussion on those topics. You’ll find activities to structure the discussion, as well as annotated lyrics and a lyrics cloze exercise, under the Lesson Plans heading. The song was added on the List of Songs page under two themes: “Memories” and “Friendship.” 1/25/17
- Song and Spin-off Activities. The song “This Town” by Niall Horan was added to the List of Songs under the theme “Lost Love” (subheading: “Songs About the End of a Romantic Relationship”). The singer/songwriter Niall Horan says this poignant song is about “that one individual you end up seeing when you go home.” I chose this song for my class partly because of this phrase: the words I never got to say—a perfect example of using got to meaning had the opportunity to. I’ve posted an interactive activity that gives students practice with the construction “to get to do something” at the end of Activity #4: Building a Lesson Around a Repeated Phrase. An annotated lyrics cloze exercise targeting the six past-tense verbs in the song is at the end of Activity #1: Targeted Cloze. Please see the List of Songs page for official video recommendations. My students (adults, mixed levels) responded well to this song and the spin-off activities. 1/10/17
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. This is my personal e-mail address. Your address will not be shared, and you will not get ads or promotions of any kind.