ESL Development 4: Using Songs in the ESL Classroom

Using songs livens the class ambiance and helps students learn more quickly. To make life easy for the teacher I suggest the following procedure.

  • The teacher tells the students to work with a partner (preferably outside of class at home) and choose a song that the everyone will enjoy—including the teacher!
  • The song chosen by the students should be relatively easy to understand. It must have interesting, useful vocabulary, and rhymes! It should be a song that all the students will accept to sing in class.
  • The team of students will copy the lyrics they find on the Internet into a DOC file and send it to the teacher. They should also send the teacher a link to the song (video or audio). By letting the students select the songs the teacher will save a lot of time and give them the responsibility for the choice.
  • The teacher goes over the selection, decides which songs to use in class and makes gap-filling exercises from the lyrics in the DOC files.
  • The teacher should inform the students which day their song will be presented. They will conduct the activity by playing the music for the gap-fill and showing the video when everyone has finished the written exercise. They are responsible for getting everyone to sing together in class.

There are countless websites with lyrics, but there is a new one I can recommend which is free and does not have all the annoying pop-up ads or talking banners.


Moreover, they link to video clips on popular music sites (Pandora, LastFM, Billboard News, etc.) and furnish information about the artist and songwriter. These are 100% legal lyrics—artists receive compensation.

Here is an example of what a lyric page looks like: http://www.lyricsnmusic.com/coldplay/clocks-lyrics/17202825

One remark: you cannot copy the lyrics directly from the site with a right click. But this is not a real inconvenience. The students will have to retype the lyrics. As they are working in teams, they can dictate to each other. This task will help them learn the words by heart!

So have fun with songs in your English course!

Marianne Raynaud

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