My Workshop at Bilgi University

In the session, I talked about why we should use songs in EFL classes.

Music is everywhere in our lives. We listen to songs when we are happy, angry, sad or when we need inspiration or when we want to relax. We go out of our homes with our songs, we travel with them, we wait with them, we shop with them.

So we can teach with them. May be I didn’t say anything new. These are the things we all know. However, I think it is always good to remember them.

Music can be used to teach  

grammar : at the presentation stage of a grammar point or while reviewing

listening : gap fill exercises, matching to teach listening for gist or detail

vocabulary: to teach or increase vocab by asking your students to replace the words with a synonym, antonym or a near synonym.

reading: songs are authentic texts and they can be used for comprehension, discussion and teaching culture 

writing: you can use songs for teaching writing. Ask your students to write a letter to the character, write a story which took place before the sond, add one more verse to the original, write their song for the same topic.

While doing all these we can always use web 2.0 to motivate our students so they can add their own content to the material.

 In the final part of my talk I gave examples how I used songs with my students.

I started the session with an activity from Music and Song by Tim Murphey (2009,   OUP)

Musical Reactions

Play an instrumental piece.

Ask students to fill out the questionnaire while listening to the music. 

1. If you turned on the radio and heard this piece of music would you:

  • turn off immediately?
  • listen attentively?
  • buy the record?
  • download it to your mp3 player?
  • Leave it on as background music?
  • —-?
  1. Imagine someone who loves this music. Describe the person in a few words.
  2. Imagine someone who doesn’t love this music. Describe the person in a few words.
  3. What emotions does it evoke in you?
  4. What do you see if you close your eyes as you listen?
  5. If this were the background music for an advertisement, what do you think the advertised product would be?
  6. If this were a soundtrack for a film, what kind of a film would that be?
  7. In what kind of place would you be most likely to hear this music?

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  2. I think songs are not good thing to learn because it`s very hard to recognizing words(maybe only for me)And listenning songs I think is a useful thing only for Advanced learners. Listening to songs requires from you separating voice track from music track. It only complicates the goal. I think the way of complicating is not a good way.

    • Hi Alex,
      Thanks for sharing your ideas. I still believe songs are good because my husband has never had a formal English lesson. he studied French at school as FL but because he loves songs he can speak, even correspond in English. His English is pre-int but he knows lots of words and he is my inspiration for using songs in the class. I remember the first day I used a real pop song in the class and it also served as an icebreaker. Maybe my case is an exception but I love music everywhere.

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  4. Eva,

    Gr8 post and reminder. We always need more cheerleading about using music, especially the music students love and listen to. It can be so powerful and motivating.

    As you know, I use a lot of Karaoke and make my own – I really think even getting older students to make karaoke songs would entail a lot of learning too and help them! Sharing, by making – very web 2.0.

    I’d also mention that teachers should use more chants in their teaching. I don’t know why but teachers aren’t using them as much but I think that used and made by students, they are very effective for language learning….

    Thanks for reminding me of that questionnaire. I have it somewhere in my office, in full and will look for it!!!


  5. Thanks for the comment David. I do love music everywhere and I use it in my class very often. I will soon plan something with karoeke and am sure they will enjoy it very much.
    thnx for the suggestion.

  6. Pingback: Songs in EFL Classroom | A Journey in TEFL

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