working with song lyrics: true or false

song lyrics

I am not a great fan of gap-filling tasks to go with songs. If what we are intending is to test understanding or train students’ ears, songs do not make the best listening material, as syllables are sometimes oddly lengthened to best suit the phrases. In addition, one has to deal with the actual “background noise” produced by the musical instruments.

Having said so, I love working with songs and here I am going to share a reading activity in connection with song lyrics, as lyrics are an excellent reading source.

I will be using a classic ESL song: Our House by Madness.

Have students read the lyrics of the song by providing enough printed copies or by having your students look for the lyrics on their phones. Give them about ten minutes or so and circulate to provide help with difficult words. Tell them that they will be doing an activity based on the song lyrics but do not reveal any more details at this stage.

Then set up groups of students (preferably uneven numbers if possible) and ask them not to look at the lyrics anymore. You will be reading some statements and they will have to decide if, according to the lyrics they have just read, those statements are true or not. Ask each student to get two pieces of paper and write a big “F” (for false) and a big “T” for true on each.

Read your first statement and ask the students to choose “F” or “T” and show it clearly by holding the piece of paper and raising their hands. The most popular answer in each group of students will be the group final answer. For instance, in a group of 5 students, if 3 students display letter “T” and 2 students display letter “F”, the group answer will be “T” for true.

Here are my ten statements for this song. You can use them or you can use your own.

  1. The father is wearing pyjamas (F).
  2. The mother is tired (T).
  3. The kids are sleeping (F)
  4. The sister is watching TV (F).
  5. The brother is meeting somebody (T).
  6. The house is in the middle of the street (T).
  7. The house is usually quiet (F).
  8. The house is messy (F).
  9. The father gets up late for work (T).
  10. The mother is ironing (T).

Award one point for each correct answer. For the extra challenge, you can also ask the students to correct each false statement by telling you what the lyrics actually said.

Finally, play the videoclip, if you have a projector and a screen.

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