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.

*** December 2018***

Grammar Worksheet. Shawn Mendes’ song “In My Blood” was just nominated for a Grammy Award for best song of 2018. This song repeats the phrase “sometimes I feel like giving up.” I’ve added a worksheet in which students practice using “feel like” to mean “want to.” It’s on the Grammar + Songs page. The official music video is classroom friendly.

This song is autobiographical. Advanced learners can listen to Shawn Mendes talk about struggling with anxiety for the first time in a interview. (Listen until about minute 2.)

*** October 2018 ***

Teachers’ Song Suggestions. At the end of my webinar, “Teaching Grammar with Popular Songs: Ain’t No Reason Not To,” I asked teachers to share songs that have worked well for them. The suggestions came in so fast, I’m not sure we got them all. But here are many of them. Thank you!

“Where Have You Been?” (Rihanna) Present perfect
“Lemon Tree” (Fools Garden) Present continuous
“Hero” (Enrique Iglesias) 2nd conditional
“Love of My Life” (Queen) Present perfect
“Every Breath You Take” (The Police) Future continuous
“Hello, Goodbye” (Beatles) opposites (good for low-beginning level)
“Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake) Personal pronouns I and you; possessive adjectives my and your
“Through the Years” (Kenny Rogers) Present perfect
“Count on Me” (Bruno Mars) 1st conditional
“Tears in Heaven” (Eric Clapton) Past tense
“Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd) 2nd conditional with wish
“Every Breath You Take” (The Police) Future continuous
“If I Were a Boy” (Beyonce) 2nd conditional
“If You Were a Sailboat” (Katie Melua) 2nd conditional Note: The singer sings “if I was,” which is generally regarded as incorrect (the correct form is “if I were”), but it’s fairly common in informal speech.
“Never Been to Spain” (Three Dog Night) Present perfect
Note: The singer doesn’t pronounce the “ve” in “I’ve never been…”
“Old Blue Chair” (Kenny Chesney) to encourage students to speak and sing along
Tip from a teacher: Search on the Internet for “songs that use _____” (for example, “songs that use present perfect”) to get ideas for songs.

Links to YouTube videos for every song on the Grammar + Songs page (to make it easier to preview songs)

Improved direction lines in several grammar exercises. I recently revised six books in the True Stories reading series (called the Silver Edition) and had the good fortune of working with an editor who is skilled in designing exercises, particularly in regard to writing clear direction lines. I’ve revised the direction lines in some of the exercises as a result of what I learned working with him. The content of the exercises remains essentially unchanged.

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.