How to teach English using music

If have you ever wanted to teach using songs, here are few ideas how to organize a lesson. When it comes to teaching English (or any other language for that matter) you have to plan your lesson carefully so that you avoid any problems that might come up along the way.  zznote

The first thing you should do is to choose the song. Although this might sound quite easy, from my personal experience, it may be the most difficult part when preparing a “music lesson”.

zznoteYou have to pay attention to:

  • What do you want to teach?

Setting up the goal of your lesson will help you decide which song to use. You should choose the song depending on the topic you are about to teach. For example, if you want to teach conditionals you should choose a song with a lot of “if”s in the song lyrics. If your goal is to teach adjectives, choose a song that has a lot of adjectives in the lyrics (check out one of the previous articles for some ideas: Five cool songs to teach adjectives in English.)

  • Who are your students?                                                        zznote

After you have set up your goal, and narrowed down the list of potential songs, now it is the time to narrow it down even more. The age and the cultural surrounding can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your lesson. Don’t try to teach adults using some children songs, as it is doomed to fail. On the other hand, if you are teaching beginner level students, you should choose a song with a lot repetition. Have in mind that if the students don’t like the song, or if they feel uncomfortable in some way, they will be reluctant to participate in any activity, and let alone to join discussion.

zznotezNow that you have chosen the song, here is how to make the lesson based on the lyrics:

Warm up – get students involved by discussing the title or performer. Have they already heard of that song? If yes, what did they think of it? If not, can they guess what the song is about?

Gap fill – leave out some of the words and give the lyrics to students to fill in. If the words are relatively familiar to your students you don’t have to provide the words that are to be used. On the other hand, if you believe that the words are too difficult for them, you should write all the missing words in a box for students to choose from.           zznote

Vocabulary in use – students have to use the words from the song in the sentences. You can use the missing words from the previous exercise, or you can add other words from the lyrics. This type of exercise is also good for practicing expressions.

Matching – you can set up two columns of words and ask students to match, for example antonyms, synonyms, words that go together, etc.

Table – this is a good way to visually represent some patterns or rules. For example, if you are teaching conditionals, ask your students to fill in the two columns, main clause and subordinate clause.

zznoteAdding missing elements – write the words or sentences and ask your students to fill in the missing letters or the missing element of the phrases, for example phrasal verbs missing prepositions.

True or false – write the sentences about the song lyrics and ask the students to decide if they are true or false. You can also add another option – we don’t know, it doesn’t say.

Answer the questions and start up a discussion – think of some questions about the lyrics and then the students can continue talking about the topic.

Have you got some more ideas for the exercises?  zznotez
What’s your experience with teaching English with music?


British Vs American Vocabulary

British American
lift elevator
boot trunk
trousers pants
autumn fall
cinema movies
chips fries
car park parking lot
holiday vacation
main road highway
nappy diaper
petrol gas, gasoline
pocket money allowance
pavement sidewalk
postbox mailbox
rubber eraser
rubbish garbage
sweets candy
timetable schedule
tube subway
windscreen windshield
torch flashlight
tin can
railway railroad
post code zip code
lorry truck
driving licence driver’s license
biscuit cookie
aeroplane airplane
grey gray

Have they gone bananas?

Have you ever lost your cool because someone was giving you the cold shoulder? Have you heard of the news spreading like wildfire? You shouldn’t be taken by surprise when they decide to get down to brass task. And then, out of the blue, you realize that the world is your oyster and you call the shots. These kinds of expressions can rock the boat for some people but it shouldn’t be difficult getting to the bottom of this. The buck stops here.

These expressions called idiomatic expressions, commonly used by native speakers, can impose certain problems for non-native speakers because they don’t imply literal meaning. They cannot be understood by analyzing the meaning of the individual word of the expression in question. Their meaning is fixed and learned by heart.

So let’s get this off your chest by explaining some of the idioms used in the previous text:

go bananas – became crazy, silly
loose your cool – to lose temper, become angry
give a cold shoulder – to treat someone in an unfriendly way
spread like wildfire – to spread rapidly
take somebody by surprise – to happen unexpectedly
get down to brass task – to discuss the essentials of the matter at hand
out of the blue – suddenly, unexpectedly
the world is your oyster – you’re free and able to enjoy life
call the shots – exercise authority or be in charge
rock the boat – to cause a problem
get to the bottom of something – understand something completely
buck stops here – problems are solved here
get something off your chest – talk about something that worries you or causes problem for you


And to add 10 frequently used idioms:

chicken out (of something) – withdraw from something due to fear or cowardice
back to square one – having to start all over again
piece of cake – something that is very easy to do
to kill two birds with one stone – to manage to do two things at the same time
adding salt to the wound – making situation worse than it is
take a rain check – postponing someone’s invitation for later
long time no see – it has been a long time since they last met
to cut a long story short – stop telling details and get to the main facts
keep your fingers crossed – hoping the things will happen the way you want
break a leg – wish good luck to someone

British Vs American Spelling

British American 
centre center -re           -er
metre meter
theatre theater
colour color ou, ue
catalogue catalog
honour honor
programme program
neighbour neighbor
cheque check
plough plow
travelled traveled -ll-
analise analize -ise          -ize


memorise memorize
organise organize
realise realize
dreamt dreamed ending -t

ending -ed

leant leaned
smelt smelled
spelt spelled