Five Tips for Working with Song Lines

As a musician myself, I have always loved working with songs in my English classes. And a lot of teachers I know also love doing so. But we usually use the entire song and its lyrics, and this can be a problem in early levels, as we will rarely be able to find a song whose lyrics completely match the vocabulary and knowledge of early levels’ students.

So, how can we use songs without the frustration of having to explain things that are far too advanced (or inappropriate) to our students? One idea is to use song lines (not the entire lyrics) that have a link to what students are studying and that are appropriate and easy to understand at the level they’re in.

I have recently been hired by Richmond UK to write the TB activities for the song lines (one per lesson) of the English ID series’ new edition. This has been an amazing opportunity for me to play with interesting and fun ideas for working with song lines in English classes. I’m sure you’d have a lot of fun using the English ID series in your classes, as you’d have everything ready for working with song lines that are perfectly connected to the lessons. But in case you cannot adopt the series, for whatever reason, here I share five really nice ways in which you can use song lines (not the entire song) in your English classes:

  • Write the chosen song line on the board (or dictate it) with mistakes that are connected to the lesson you’re teaching and have students work in pairs to spot the mistakes without checking the web for the actual lyrics.

 

  • Play Chinese Whispers with the song line. If the line is too long for students to get it, you can break it in chunks and whisper the chunks in order to make it easier for students.

 

  • Organize students into groups, give each group a different song line that’s connected to the lesson topic and have the groups mime the song line they got for the other groups to guess.

 

  • Choose a song line with mistakes in the original version (e.g. Cocaine by Eric Clapton: “She don’t like, she don’t like, she don’t like, cocaine.” Or Hound Dog by Elvis Presley: “Well they said you was high-classed, well, that was just a lie.”) and have students correct the mistake(s) in it.

 

  • Have students analyze the rhyming words in a song line and challenge them to change these words for other rhyming words in a way that the line still makes sense, even if the meaning changes completely.

 

I hope you enjoyed these five tips. If you did so, watch out for the English ID New Edition that’s coming up soon. I’m sure you’ll like it, too! 😉

Eduardo Trindade

Eduardo is a freelance author and editor who has worked in the educational market, for schools and publishers, all over Latin America for over 25 years. Currently, besides being involved with content editing and production for Richmond projects, both in Brazil and in the UK, Eduardo is also a professor at Live University’s MBAs. He is a journalist and holds an MBA in Business Management. eduardotrindade@me.com

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