Songs sung in English are listened to around the world and one can often feel real progress in their level of English when one can begin to sing along to the chorus.

 

Here are some tips from the British Council website on the use of songs in English language classroom.

 

Six steps for making a song the focus of your class

My intention here is to provide a basic outline you can use with any song. Remember, these are just suggestions so make sure to keep the profile of your learners in mind.

1. Listen to the song

That’s it – start things off by just listening. It’s important to remember that this is supposed to be a fun activity; don’t make it too serious or boring.

As an alternative, you can show a video clip if you have one – in fact, I strongly recommend it, as it will cater to more learners’ needs in terms of learning styles (visual and audible).

Ask learners if they’ve heard it before, and don’t overload them with tasks at this point; simply let them enjoy the music.

2. Ask some questions about the title

Here are a couple of examples of the types of questions you can ask:

For John Lennon’s wonderful ‘Jealous Guy’:

  • ‘What is a ‘jealous guy’?’
  • ‘What are three things a jealous guy might do?’
  • ‘What kinds of jealousy are there?’

For Queen’s classic ‘We are the champions’:

  • ‘What is a champion?’
  • ‘What kinds of champions are there in the world?’
  • ‘What activities have champions?’

Such questions tend to work really well as conversation starters, so group three or four learners together and then get feedback from each group on their thoughts. If you think it would help, make this your first step, i.e., before the initial listening.

Alternatively, prior to having listened to the song you can teach a couple of words and give a simple task for the first listening. My favourite strategy is to give three or four words from the song and ask to them to listen out for the words that rhyme with them. You could also brainstorm possible rhymes before listening.

3. Listen to the song again, this time with lyrics

This time, you should give learners the chance to read the lyrics to the song. At this point you might do one or more of the following activities:

  • Learners can just read the lyrics while they listen. They can possibly highlight unknown words for later discussion.
  • You can make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; learners fill in the gaps as they listen.
  • You can make cut-out strips of selected missing words and again make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; this time learners match the word strips to the gaps as they listen.

4. Focus on a particular verb tense or aspect of grammar

Virtually every song centres on a particular verb tense. This is too good an opportunity to pass up in terms of uncovering the grammar. My suggestion is to start with questions such as these:

  • How many examples can you find of the past simple in the lyrics?
  • Why did the writer of this song choose this verb tense?

This acts as a springboard for discussing the function of a specific tense, as well as examining its form. Furthermore, it often tends to raise awareness of grammatical flexibility and ‘poetic licence’ in the construction of song lyrics. Students often expect songs to obey the grammatical rules that have been drummed into them. In a surprisingly large number of cases, this can lead to the enlightening discovery that rules can be broken!

5. Focus on vocabulary, idioms and expressions

We’ve noted that many songs bend the rules of grammar. It’s also useful to focus on the creative and artistic use of vocabulary we encounter in lyrics. Start with questions like these (again, for Queen’s classic song ‘We are the champions’):

  • What does ‘I’ve paid my dues’ mean?
  • What does ‘my share of’ mean?
  • What does ‘I’ve taken my bows’ mean?

Go through the meanings, illustrating with other examples if necessary. Songs often serve as really good contexts for phrases and idioms, but it’s good to make sure that the meaning is clear. As with grammar, years of misunderstanding can come to light in this way!

6. Round things off with some creativity

Creativity is an important part of maintaining motivation but it shouldn’t be limited to the teaching approach. Depending on the factors highlighted in the first part of this post (age, language level, cultural specifics, etc.), you might want to try finishing things off with an activity that stimulates creative thought. Here are a few examples of things you can do to get the creative juices flowing:

  • Write another verse of lyrics, maintaining the same mood and style as the original. This can be done individually or in groups. These new lyrics can be presented to the rest of the class. Perhaps several groups can work on this to come up with a completely new set of lyrics for the whole song.
  • A song tends to give you the perspective of the singer. Write a response (this can be a paragraph, i.e., not necessarily in lyric form) from the point of view of the person the song is being sung about, or any other protagonist.
  • Have the learners plan a music video for the song. In groups they decide the location, the characters, and what happens. Then each group explains their idea to the rest of the class and the learners vote on the best one. The results can be surprising, as they frequently come up with an interpretation that hadn’t even occurred to you!
  • Write a diary entry for a character in the song. Get learners to examine the thoughts and feelings that inspired the story being played out in the lyrics.

 

Clap Your Hands

 

Clap your hands, clap your hands,
Listen to the music and clap Your hands.

Stamp your feet, stamp your feet,
Listen to the music and stamp your feet,

Turn around, turn around,
Listen to the music and turn around.

Jump up high, jump up high,
Listen to the music and jump up high.


 

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Lyrics

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Near the village the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village the quiet village
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Hush my darling don't fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
Hush my darling don't fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Let It Go

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I'm the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in;
Heaven knows I've tried

Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know
Well now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore.

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don't care
what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!

Lemon Tree

 

I'm sitting here in the boring room
It's just another rainy Sunday afternoon
I'm wasting my time
I got nothing to do
I'm hanging around
I'm waiting for you
But nothing ever happens and I wonder

I'm driving around in my car
I'm driving too fast
I'm driving too far
I'd like to change my point of view
I feel so lonely
I'm waiting for you
But nothing ever happens and I wonder

I wonder how
I wonder why
Yesterday you told me 'bout the blue blue sky
And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree
I'm turning my head up and down
I'm turning turning turning turning turning around
And all that I can see is just another lemon-tree

I'm sitting here
I miss the power
I'd like to go out taking a shower
But there's a heavy cloud inside my head
I feel so tired
Put myself into bed
While nothing ever happens and I wonder

Isolation is not good for me
Isolation I don't want to sit on the lemon-tree

I'm steppin' around in the desert of joy
Baby anyhow I'll get another toy
And everything will happen and you wonder

I wonder how
I wonder why
Yesterday you told me 'bout the blue blue sky
And all that I can see is just another lemon-tree
I'm turning my head up and down
I'm turning turning turning turning turning around
And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree
And I wonder, wonder

I wonder how
I wonder why
Yesterday you told me 'bout the blue blue sky
And all that I can see, and all that I can see, and all that I can see
Is just a yellow lemon-tree.

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And days o’ lang syne!

 

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne!

 

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pu’d the gowans fine,

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot

Sin’ auld lang syne.

 

We twa hae paidl’t in the burn

Frae morning sun till dine,

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin’ auld lang syne.

 

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,

And gie’s a hand o’ thine,

And we’ll tak a right guid willie-waught

For auld lang syne!

 

And surely ye’ll be your pint’ stoup,

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne!

Забыть ли старую любовь

И не грустить о ней?

Забыть ли старую любовь

И дружбу прежних дней?

 

За дружбу старую -

До дна!

За счастье прежних дней!

С тобой мы выпьем, старина,

За счастье прежних дней.

 

Побольше кружки приготовь

И доверху налей.

Мы пьем за старую любовь,

За дружбу прежних дней.

 

За дружбу старую -

До дна!

За счастье юных дней!

По кружке старого вина -

За счастье юных дней.

 

С тобой топтали мы вдвоем

Траву родных полей,

Но не один крутой подъем

Мы взяли с юных дней.

 

Переплывали мы не раз

С тобой через ручей.

Но море разделило нас,

Товарищ юных дней...

 

И вот с тобой сошлись мы вновь.

Твоя рука - в моей.

Я пью за старую любовь,

За дружбу прежних дней!

 

За дружбу старую -

До дна!

За счастье прежних дней!

С тобой мы выпьем, старина,

За счастье прежних дней!



I'm a Believer

 

I thought love was only true in fairytales
Meant for someone else but not for me
Love was out to get me
That's the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all my dreams

Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I'm in love, I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her if I tried

I thought love was more or less a givin' thing
But the more I gave the less I got
What's the use in trying?
All you get is pain
When I needed sunshine I got rain

Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I'm in love, I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her if I tried

Love was out to get me
Now that's the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all my dreams

Oh then I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I'm in love, I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her if I tried

Yes I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
Said I'm a believer, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
(I'm a believer)
Said I'm a believer, yeah
(I'm a believer)
Said I'm a believer, yeah
(I'm a believer)

 

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