Songs are a double-edged weapon: on the one hand they are abundant and they are motivating language products so they are very inviting as classroom material. On the other hand, I personally feel most times they are used as fillers and they take up precious time that could be more wisely and productively spent on something else.
A major issue is length. The average duration of a song is about three and a half minutes. Playing a song a couple of times isn’t probably enough input for the majority of the students. Playing a song three times would seem to make more sense but at the expense of taking up 12 minutes, which, at any rate, does not equal 12 minutes of singing (or listening for words) time, as any song contains instrumental parts.
Here’s an easy solution: focus on a minute or two so that you can easily replay that extract at least three times, if not more. There are many things that can be done with just an chunk of a song. Here is one: correct the lyrics.
These three songs work really well for a B1 level of English.
Daniel. Elton John (one minute and thirty seconds).
Read this out for the students to copy on a piece of paper.
- Daniel is travelling by train.
- He is travelling tomorrow.
- He is travelling to Spain.
- I have been to Spain.
- Daniel loves Spain.
- He has been to Spain many times.
- I don’t miss Daniel much.
- I am older than Daniel.
Tell the students they are going to listen to a song. According to the song they will hear some of the sentences they have copied are not correct. Their job is to correct them. Then play the song from the beginning until you reach the line ” Oh oh, Daniel my brother you are older than me”.
Another good song is She is Leaving Home by The Beatles (one minute extract).
Read this out for the students to copy:
- It’s Thursday morning.
- It’s six o’clock
- She’s opening her bedroom door.
- She is reading a note.
- She goes downstairs to the living room.
- She has a handkerchief in her hand.
- She is leaving home.
Again, students listen to the extract three times and decide which statements are true or not and make any necessary corrections.
Thank You. Dido (50 seconds)
Here is the video, if you want to try it out.
And here are the statements:
- My tea is cold.
- I am in bed.
- The sky is sunny.
- I drank too much last night.
- I missed the train to work.
- I’m late for work.
This activity goes beyond the word level, it is challenging at the target language level but achievable and gives students enough exposure. It also focuses on relevant information and not just random gapped words. Enjoy!!