Music has charms to soothe a savage beast. William Congreve
Not that every EFL class has savage beasts! But for sure , music changes the atmosphere in the room and engages learners, especially if it’s relevant to their interests.
Song activities can be very useful in the EFL classroom. They can help practice vocabulary, grammar , phonology and skills, both productive and receptive. Knowing the lyrics of a song in a foreign language we are learning motivates us, and singing it..makes us feel cool! Really holistic way to teach, right?
There are plenty of song activities to be found in sites such as islcollective. But why not create your own worksheets, by selecting songs that your students actually know and like? The steps are easy:
- pick a song.
- find the lyrics online.
- copy and paste them on a document.
- add a picture to make it more attractive.
- edit your text and create activities .
Now what kind of activities can you create? Oh so many.. I can write my favourites here but the list is not exhaustive. There is room for a lot of creativity here, so don’t just go with your usual gapfill.
Pre-listening activities: show a picture, elicit content of the song through a title, ask them what they know about the song, singer, etc. The purpose is to activate students’ prior knowledge for two reasons:
1) To trigger curiosity and interest in the activity.
2) To prepare students for the content and language by allowing them to talk about it. They have the language at the forefront of their minds later when dealing with the text.
Read more about activating existing knowledge here :
- Circle the right option. Your average multiple choice task.
- Underline the extra words and find the secret message! ( Make sure you add extra words in random parts of the text. They should be making up an encouraging or funny message, such as :”You found all the words, well done !”
- Fill in the gaps (no help provided) or fill in the gaps using words from a table.
- Complete the gaps with the right form of the verbs.
- Listen and solve the anagrams. (aphyp is happy)
- Order the lyrics/verses.
- Match the sentence halves.
- Complete the song with the words missing. You are given the phonetic transcription of the words!
- underline the /iː/ sounds (or any other individual sounds you want to practise)
post-listening activities: stretch their creativity or develop thinking skills.
1. Ask ss to react to the song: how the felt about it, if they agree or disagree with the singer, if they’ve ever felt like that..
2. Ask ss to write an extra verse.
3. Ask them to change the song by replacing some words with their opposites! This can get really wild, but they usually like it!
4. Ask them to produce a freeze frame, showing a scene from the song/ video.
5. Ask them to use their dictionaries to look up specific words. You’re training them to become more independent learners.
6. Ask text comprehension questions.
Have a look at some worksheets I’ve created. Feel free to download and use!