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Using Songs by Anna Musielak

Part of the series From my PLN

Music is everywhere, it surrounds us from the moment we are born – well even before that;) My father is a music lover so my earliest childhood memories revolve around singing, dancing and „making” my own music. I loved to record songs or my covers of rhymes;) I never had a  great voice but I was very passionate about singing (and listening to music). I was a very lively child and my mum said that when I listened to music those where the few moments I was”calmer” and let her work a bit;)


I started learning English when I was quite young – my parents were my first teachers. And how did they do it? Through songs of course. Old Macdonald, Hokey Pokey, ABC and many more…When I was a teenager my father played The Beatles or The Rolling Stones to me, asking whether I can pick up and understand some words (he does it till this day, sometimes with very complicated lyrics;)). That is why, as a person who cannot imagine life without music and never leaves home without an Ipod, I think it is important to use songs in the ELT classroom. If we are passionate about something  – we should share it with our learners. I try to pass my love to music onto my daughter as well – she is four and loves singing:) And that is how I teach her English – through songs and chants:)

On my lessons I like to use songs that are not very well known because then the response seems to be „fresher” somehow . I mix the less common songs with the classic ones and I think that lessons with more than one song work best. Here is a lesson plan for young adults using three songs.


Level: FCE/CAE

The aim of this lesson was to talk about various types of love and relationship, as well as to focus on grammatical expressions talking about regrets and the past (wish/regret/modals in the past/would)

Apart from listening, grammar and vocabulary skills were also practised and the lesson continued with a writing project.

On this lesson I used three songs – each about a different kind of love such as motherly love, unrequited love or lost love. We started the lesson by looking at the word cloud made up of keywords from those three songs. Students were supposed to predict the content and discuss the themes in pairs or groups.


At that point students were presented with the lyrics of the first song – and here I decided to gap the text. They skimmed it and asked about words that were new. They tried to predict what music genre it was and who was singing this song. Later on, they listened and filled the gaps. After completing the task in groups, they checked their predictions and discussed the type of relationship/love presented. They decided what keywords conveyed the meaning and discussed the grammatical structures talking about the past and regrets.


The be good Tanyas  


You said to yourself that we did not love you
All of the years didn’t mean nothing
You told yourself we would not forgive you
Mistakes that you made would keep us separated

Comin’ home hard day done
Comin’ home hard day done

Don’t you know it’s your laugh we laugh that
pulls us through
And the strength and the love that we carry
We got it from you


With the second song the task was similar but the lyrics were jumbled.  Again the students familiarized themselves with the text and tried to predict the music genre and main theme.

Lee DeWyze

 “A Song About Love”

I used to make you cry,
but I haven’t smiled since you left.
Can you undo ‘Goodbye’,
its a word I wish I cud forget.
U told me you love me and to try to move on.
But its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

It was you who took the blame,
even though we both knew who was wrong.
Yeah I’m calling out your name,
every time I’m singing this song.
Coz its over, yeah its over
U told me you love me but its time to move on.
its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

Coz its over, yeah its over
U told me you love me and to try to move on.
its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love
and its sad cuz it won’t be enough.
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

And last but not least,  it was time for the third song, this time in full version. Students read the text to get the main idea. The vocabulary was checked and students were asked to search for keywords presenting the main idea. After that they listened to the song.


 Eric Clapton


What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long.
You know it’s just your foolish pride.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.

Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don’t say we’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain.

 After listening students were presented with two images and had to decide which one suited best to the last song. They had to justify and defend their opinion, of course.



After listening to all three songs it was time for comparison and contrast. We started with the themes and various types of love moving on to more analytical tasks, such as vocabulary and grammar comparison (how many different tenses were used, how did the author express regrets and wishes etc).

We decided together how the songs could be made shorter – which words could be reduced without changing the meaning and how to expand them by adding more nouns, adjectives or verbs.

As homework students were asked to change the format of chosen texts e.g. turn them into a newspaper article or a screenplay.

The lesson continued with lots of follow up projects and students themselves found songs dealing with chosen topics they wanted to discuss and analyze:)

The reduction/expansion and media transferred ideas are inspired by Alan Maley’s procedures


Anna Musielak is a a teacher and teacher trainer from Poland. She is  also a drama  and literature enthusiast. If you want to follow her on twitter,  she is @AnnaMusielak

I’d like to thank Ania for this wonderful contribution to the song lessons and this blog. I’m glad I had the chance to attend her workshop at TESOL France and admired her enthusiasm for teaching.

Thanks Ania, being part of my PLN…

The A-Z Files: The Secret to Organising your TEFL Life! (by Janet Bianchini)

 Part of the series from my PLN


It’s not rocket science, you may well be saying to yourself. Of course, filing your materials in A-Z format is the obvious way to keep organised! Well, not everyone may do this, so I would like to share some tips which have helped me over the years to save a lot of hassle and stress when looking for materials at short notice. It will also make you very popular in the staffroom!

 Downsizing my beloved 100 A-Z files to only 25 files 2 years ago, before moving my stuff to Abruzzo, was in part a huge wrench, and in part liberating. I didn’t want to let go of the past at all. My life’s work, my research, my lessons had to be condensed. In order to freely move on in the future, you have to let go of some of the past. However, in this digital age, bulky and space-eating folders will probably become obsolete. Nowadays, you have excellent digital bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo. Everything all under one easily accessible site 24/7 from any part of the world. This ease of use may make my A-Z filing system seem “old hat” nowadays.

As Easy as Pie?


 Everything you use for your classes is stored on your computer and so you only need a USB stick/i-Pad/ mobile to hand to exploit resources from the web in your lessons? Do you store everything on Dropbox?

I agree these are all wonderful tools to use but….realia which can be held and passed around to be viewed and used in role plays and games for example, will always be a necessary part of the teacher’s repertoire of teaching aids. This is where your personal A-Z folders or an A-Z filing cabinet in your staffroom, will come in very handy. At a second’s notice, you need something connected to, for example “Classroom Language functions”. No problem, you look in your Folder labelled “C”, kept in alphabetical file order according to topics, eg Functions A-Z , Grammar A-Z, Phrasals A-Z, Idioms A-Z etc, and immediately you find the cut-up cards you copied for practising Classroom Language functions taken from Using Once you have used the cards, pop them into a clearly labelled envelope, put the envelope in a clearly labelled plastic pocket “C”- “Classroom Language Functions” and then the plastic pocket goes into your dedicated functions folder or filing cabinet at school, ready to be accessed the next time. As easy as pie? 


 A bank of cut-up games, role play cards, pictures for different activities can all be kept in one conveniently located set of folders or cabinet, ready to be whipped out at a moment’s notice. A stress-free staffroom is what I enjoy most of all. Relaxing safe in the knowledge that you do not need to do any photocopying for the last lesson activity, because it is already made up and ready to use. Also, you can feel pleased that you are doing your bit for ecology and a paperless classroom.

Top A-Z Sites
A-Z lists have always held a particular fascination for me. They appeal because I am confident that I will be able to find what I need very quickly. Living in a digital age it is even easier now to find materials which can be found instantly. In fact, it’s as easy as ABC! Here are some links to Internet sites which contain excellent use of A- Z examples of materials and resources:

An A – Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury
Carol Read’s ABC of Teaching Children
Word Spy Categories A-Z
Tool Kit A – Z for Education by Judy O’Connell
Free ESL Materials (in A – Z order) by Sean Banville
Cool Tools for Schools A – Z
Phrasal Verbs A – Z from

Janet’s A – Z


I am currently developing an A – Z digital list of my favourite bookmarks, so that I can personally access any topic at short notice. It is very much a work in progress and it is very rough at the edges so far. I chose wikispaces because I hope it’s indestructible. Having wiped out a whole year’s A – Z work in one single heart-wrenching second, you can understand how sensitive I am now to losing my work. The wonderful thing about a wiki is that if you accidentally delete your work, you can easily restore it by going to the History section in your account

smalljanetjoeypicI would like to thank Eva very much for inviting me to do a guest post on her lovely blog. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Eva is an important member of my PLN and I learn so much from her.

You can find me on Janet’s Abruzzo Edublog or on Twitter @janetbianchini

 I’d like to thank Janet Bianchini who agreed to write a guest post for my blog. She is a constant inspiration for the ones who reads her blog. I learn a lot from her. It’s a great feeling to have a PLN.

Thank you Janet for your, help and support.

JUST A TEACHER by Arjana Blazic

Part of the series From my PLN


Before I joined Twitter I never gave presentations or write-ups. I was rarely interviewed for newspapers, TV or radio.

Twitter has magically brought change to my life. It all started with Shelly’s tweet about glogster, a fantastic tool for creating posters. I immediately signed up and opened accounts for my students. When I introduced them to glogster they were delighted and even thanked me for that, which I found really rewarding. As I like travelling very much, I quickly came up with the idea of creating virtual postcards. I wanted my students to share information on their country with their peers and tell them what travel books can’t and don’t.

After they were done with their posters, we decided to make them public. For this purpose, and after several tweets by the members of my PLN, I opened up a wiki and named it Greetings from the world. My students embedded their posters and I informed them that we had to find partners from other countries. Yeah, right, they said. I tweeted about it and Viviana and her students added a new page about Brazil in less than a week. Candace followed with her gifted class of Oklahoman students. Eva and Culya’s students joined us with their amazing posters. My students kept asking me where and how I find these awesome teachers and students. Twitter, I kept saying proudly, and, well, yes, boastfully. And there came others, all equally eager to share and collaborate, to learn from each other and to respect each other: Monika from Colorado, Valerie from Louisiana, Dan from the UK, Shannon from Iowa, Judy from N. Carolina, Clara and Jose from Portugal, Vicky from Australia, Shyam from India and Rositsa from Bulgaria.

Then we got shortlisted for the Edublog Best Educational Wiki 2009. We won, and I explained the victory to myself and whoever wanted to listen to me, that we got so many votes only because this was the first Croatian project ever to be shortlisted for this award.

Then I applied for The Microsoft Innovative Teacher competition and won the first prize. I was utterly flabbergasted. What did it mean? This was not about the votes anymore, there were 30 outstanding Croatian-only projects and the judges selected mine! Could it be that my project was so good?

From March 23-25 I presented the project at the Innovative Education Forum in Berlin. There were 80 amazingly creative projects, set up by amazingly innovative educators from 40 European countries. The Greetings reached the semifinals and I’ll be going  to Capetown, South Africa later this year to participate at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. I still can’t believe that my project has come so far!

I mean, it was just a simple idea. I could never have dreamed about where this project would take me. I never did it with fame, money, write-ups, presentations (I’m an extremely shy presenter, by the way) on my mind! I just did it for my students, because I’m just a teacher.

I’d like to thank Eva, my dear Twitter friend, for this great opportunity to write a post for her fantastic blog.

Arjana Blazic is just a teacher who tweets and runs the Greetings from the world wiki, which you’re more than welcome to join.



I’d like to thank Arjana Blazic for this wonderful first guest post on my blog. She says she is just a teacher but we all know that she is a teacher who inspires and I’m very happy to be part of her great project.



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