Monday, 17 January 2011

Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 4 of 4): Music-related web 2.0 tools

Finally, this is the last part of the series which summarizes the #ELTchat from Jan 12th about Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching. In this post I have collected music-related web 2.0 tools which were mentioned during the #ELTchat and examples of how to use them.

  • Music and lyrics copied and pasted on IWB.
  • Put up a playlist on YouTube for students. So, if they like a song, then they can listen to more beyond class.
  • There are lots of karaoke videos on Youtube; with just a computer and a mic, you can have a great singing lesson!

Spotify (Spotify is available in the following countries:Finland, France, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and Grooveshark
  • Get students to make a playlist, then ask them to walk around class & find out who else’s they would listen to.
  • Make a quiz on lyrics. Ss answer as they watch the video clip.

  • Great for autonomous work on the songs they like.
  • Choose song, choose level, fill gaps. Music will stop.

  • Ask students to subtitle song. Then compare each other’s versions

    • Do a word cloud to predict the song theme.
    • Students make up their own song based on word cloud , then compare with real song to see who is accurate.
    • A great warmer for a song is to stick the lyrics in Wordle or Worditout and ask learners to guess song from word cloud.

    Other tools and websites

    Tune into English is a fabulous free resource to use with students!!

    English Central always includes a song for pronunciation work.

    Karaoke Party is a great interactive online karaoke venue – very useful interface with ratings et al.

    Tubeoke is also great. It shows the video and the lyrics alongside.

    I hope these tools can really make the use of songs more fun. I have really enjoyed writing this series!

    Sunday, 16 January 2011

    Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 3 of 4): Specific songs and their uses

    It´s now time for part 3 of the series which summarizes the #ELTchat from Jan 12th about Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching.

    Specific songs and their uses

    1. Shakira´s “Fool” to look at words that share the same sounds.
    2. “Anything you can do I can do better” for the comparative.
    3. Katy Perry’s “Firework” to tackle a taboo subject.
    4. A modals (for prediction) song is “The ballad of Billy Jo” – there’s a version by Sinead O’Connor.
    5. “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles with Elementary level  -great present continuous, miming actions and body vocabulary practice.
    6. For beginners get them to write new verse for “Don’t know much” song – good fun.
    7. “Hello Goodbye” by The Beatles with beginners. I often ask them to write an extra verse.
    8. A lesson where I used a song video to help teach vocabulary & grammar (likes and dislikes).
    9. A blog post on using “Pencil full of lead” (the vid is superb for an EFL class).
    10. Activities to work on pronunciation, as this one with “Bizarre Love Triangle”.
    11. To practise present perfect continuous this song by Foreigner is great. Do A/B close gap activity.
    12. Karaoke Lady Gaga’s "Bad romance" .
    13. "Mad World" with multiple visuals: video 1, video 2 and video 3 .
    14. Bob Dylan and Billy Bragg are great for stimulating discussions about issues.
    15. “Taxman” by The Beatles to teach the comparative.
    16. Great lesson on articles with “Penny Lane”.
    17. “She’s leaving Home” for hard to find narratives.
    18. Great new lesson plan on based on a “How deep is the ocean”.
    19. "In the ghetto" would be an Elvis number I would pick.
    20. Funny songs like “If I had a million dollars” by Barenaked Ladies are great for conditionals type 2.
    21. A great 2nd conditional song is “When I win the lottery” by Camper Van Beethoven.
    22. Black Eyes Peas´ “Where is the Love” is a song teens love…but tough to sing.  I challenge them to sing it from beginning to end for credits.
    23. “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” is good for teaching prepositions.
    24. Pub song “Show me the way to go home” to introduce Language Varieties.
    25. Chumbawumba’s “Add me” is great for teens. You can have a seriously good discussion about internet safety afterwards.
    26. Ask students to compare this video of “American Pie” (broken link) with either the movie or this other video.
    27. “Take a bow” by Rihanna is good for showbiz vocabulary.
    28. “Cosmic” by Jamiroquai is good for space vocabulary.
    29. "Spanish Train" or "Patricia the Stripper" by Chris de Burgh are good story songs.
    30. This video  of “Someday” by Nickelback is also great for starting a discussion as the end of it is quite surprising. 
    31. Album ‘The Boy Bands Have Won’ some great story songs. Also Folk songs.
    32. Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has lots of great story-songs, but may be ‘too Australian’ for anywhere else.
    33. For "Young Hearts" give lyrics, ask them to devise video clip THEN play it – music big contrast to words.
    34. Paul Kelly – very Oz.
    35. Daniel Powter for story songs,  his videos anyway "Free Loop" and "Bad Day".
    36. Re: story songs  Sterephonics – ‘I stopped to fill my car up’ .
    37. Re: story songs: “The Cruel War” by Peter Paul & Mary, “Spanish is the Loving Tongue” by Michael Martin Murphey.
    38. There might be a (long) lesson in Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”.
    39. Alanis Morisette´s “Hand in my pocket” and “You Learn” are great for opposites and actions, respectively.
    40. To punctuate “In The Ghetto” and “Bang Bang My Baby Shot Me Down”.
    41. “Conjunction Junction” not designed for foreign learners but still works. 
    42. Michael BublĂ© video “Just haven’t met you yet” as a writing prompt for retelling.
    43. Alanis Morisette´s “Ironic”a great video to accompany this song for advanced learners is   – Ed Byrne (comedian).
    44. I use this version of “In the ghetto” to demo importance of working on your pronunciation.
    45. David Deubelbeiss´ #1 activity .
    46. “Lemon tree” animation video. Check these amazing ideas by @evab2001!
    47. “Jealous Guy” – John Lennon for Past Continuous and relationships.
    48. “United Breaks Guitars” is another great storytelling song as well.
    49. ‘Ode to Billy Jo’  video  – comments full of great discussion material.
    Again it´s amazing to see how much information was shared in one hour over the #ELTchat! The last part of the series is coming soon...

    Note: There´s a broken link in #26. Will try to fix it ASAP

      Friday, 14 January 2011

      Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 2 of 4): Ideas for using songs

      Following #ELTchat from Jan 12th about Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching, this is part 2 on reasons and ideas for using songs.

      Why use songs?
      • Songs can be very effective to work on supra-segmental features of the language.
      • Songs as poetry.
      • Songs (and poems) a great way to look at words that share the same sounds.
      • Songs provide multiple routes to language retention: rhythm, melody, metre.
      • Songs are great for pronunciation practice especially sound linking and reduction.
      • Slow songs can help students learn intonation, elision etc.
      • Chants are good for pronunciation exercises.
      • Songs enable bottom-up/top-down processing simultaneously.
      • Songs are for great vocabulary extension / vocabulary themes.
      • Songs can prompt discussion *about* the song.
      • Songs are a great way to access slang.
      • New options to “fill-in-blank”.

      Possible tasks
      1. Organize student presentations: 4-5 lines of lyrics, with translation, then short YouTube clip, then 100+ words on why they like the song.
      2. Have background music to put students at ease when doing song tasks.
      3. Have students write a song.
      4. Use songs to encourage discussions in my literature classes. For ex Animal Farm with Revolution by The Beatles.
      5. Use songs to prompt discussion *about* the song. Play a clip, students talk (Have you ever heard this, Do you like this, etc).
      6. Use two versions of songs and get student s to compare them like 2 versions of Candle in the wind .
      7. Take your PlayStation to class and use SingStar (karaoke) – great fun with teenagers.
      8. Get student s to write additional verses.
      9. Play song once, ask students to write down as many words as they can, pair them up, and ask them to create a new song with the words.
      10. Use screen capture to take pics from a song video, they can then be used for ordering/ prediction(inspired by @cheimi10).
      11. Have a Skype call with another class. (We sang for them and they sang for us! It was amazing!).
      12. The usual pre, while and post listening/viewing phases: covers mood, vocabulary and application.
      13. If there are different visuals to a music video, or advert using a song, it can be interesting to consider the differences.
      14. Play the song and ask them to design a concept for the video.
      15. Get Young Learners to mime song, teens to act out a scene of what they think happened. Improvising!
      16. Get Weird Al’s versions and compare with originals. The videos are also a good idea.
      17. Play a song as student s come into room at beginning of a class and do nothing with it; can have a great impact on general mood.
      18. Ask students to participate in song selection too for ownership and deeper engagement! Give them 5 and have them vote on top 3!
      19. Do a kind of Jukebox Jury with a handful of songs. Students have to vote for their favourite.
      20. Use instrumental music as a way to frame a guided visualisation.
      21. Ask students to draw while listening, then talk about what they drew.
      22. Use a mix of music from the countries of my students. They have to explain similarities and differences in the sentiments of the songs
      23. Let students choose a song about any global issue… sing along and discuss. When student s choose they feel empowered. They can even gap the songs themselves.
      24. Get student s to research the singers/ bands and do projects or presentations on them.
      25. Maybe ask your students to try to recreate this video.
      26. Write key words on bits of coloured paper – hand out to student s – they have to stand up when they hear their word – usually great fun!
      27. Look at songs as poetry: form, metaphor, emotion. Working extensively with lyrics post-listening can be very powerful.
      28. With appropriate groups discussing “inappropriate” lyrics might be very productive.
      29. When teaching poetry and figures of speech, start with a song…more accessible for teens.
      30. Lyrics race: teams memorize one line of written song and race across classroom/hall to recorder who writes down. At end all listen.
      31. Can be interesting to think about using and comparing cover versions with originals.
      32. Look at different versions of same song and get students to listen out for differences in voice or Instruments as with Hallelujah.
      33. Use literal songs – they’re so funny! (many on YouTube).
      34. Get student s to make up new endings or make up their own versions of songs.
      35. A nice idea with a story song : stop half way through the song and get student s to predict ending.
      36. Give students half the rhyme and get them to make up the other half- Can be hilarious (careful with teens).
      37. Scrambled lyrics: give students lyrics but put lines out of order. Students reorder, then listen.
      38. Have children do their own songs to famous tunes, works really well with rap.
      39. Play bits of songs / soundtracks and ask students to write adjectives they think of on the board – no repetition allowed.
      40. Play a soundtrack and ask students to guess the kind of film – good for slightly out-of-date so not too easy.
      41. Do grammar revision through song titles.
      42. Use songs/videos as writing prompts. Students listen/watch, then retell or answer questions.
      43. Eliciting a class story from a song or piece of music (eg Duo de las flores by Delibes).
      44. Get student s making karaoke files (they learn while doing/sharing).
      45. Use  karaoke versions of songs on YouTube and have an occasional sing off with students.
      Hope you enjoyed part 2...more on the way!

      Thursday, 13 January 2011

      Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 1 of 4): Background readings and resources

      In case you didn´t know, I´m an avid tweeter, especially for Professional Development and networking with colleagues all over the world. And one of the best examples of collaboration towards PD in ELT is #ELTchat, a weekly one-hour conversation on Twitter on a topic voted by those who are interested in participating. #ELTchat is usually moderated by the amazing @Marisa_C (Marisa Constantinides), @rliberni (Berni Wall) and @esolcourses (Sue Lyon Jones) and each weekly chat is archived at

      Yesterday, #ELTchat was about Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching. So that you get an idea of the intensity of the conversation, these are the stats:
      • 13 readings and resources,
      • 68 ideas for using songs,
      • 50 example songs with links,
      • 11 music-related web 2.0 tools
       All this information, which I have tried to digest for easier consumption, is too long to be posted in one blog post so I have divided it into 4 parts:
      • Part 1: Background readings and resources related to teaching English through songs
      • Part 2: Ideas of tasks for using songs
      • Part 3: Specific songs and their uses
      • Part 4: Music-related web 2.0 tools

      So here it goes!

      Background reading and general resources

      Using music in world language performance assessment , interesting article, based on ACTFL modes of communication, 4 performance assessments [word doc] 

      Music and Song by Tim Murphey. (OUP) Useful teacher resource book 

      A Beatles YouTube Album, The Beatles Learning Styles & Creativity in 6 posts.

      Why use songs and some ready activities for various levels

      BC Learn English Kids has lots of great sing-along-songs for kids

      You´ve got to learn   Brilliant post by @evab2001 on how to use same song but in a different language

      Esol UK has great bank of songs, videos and activities 

      Learn English with Songs by @esolcourses – Fabulous song resources and lessons for multi levels

      Some readers´suggestions that are worth sharing

      Music and Song in ELT by Greg Quinlivan
      My ESL friends Song page by George Machlan

      Music and Songs in the Classroom: Techniques to Aid the Language Learning Process by Elda Macias

      Teacher training presentation on using song by David Deubelbeiss.

      Facebook group Songs for Teaching (sent by Susana Canelo)

      Songs in EFL classroom, another great blog post by @evab2001

      I hope you enjoyed these resources which were contributed by all those partcipating in  #ELTchat. Part 2 coming soon...