Some of the best and most fluent English speakers I’ve met in Thailand have been Thais who taught themselves English listening to English language pop music. Children all over the world love music and particularly pop music, so using it in an EFL/ESL class can be a successful, and fun, way to teach English vocabulary. During my first year of teaching English in Thailand, I created this EFL/ESL lesson plan to teach my students to remember English vocabulary. It worked.
Lesson Plan Expected Learning Outcome – EFL/ESL students will be able to understand the vocabulary in an English language song and remember it.
Materials and Resources – Whiteboard markers, whiteboard, CD player, CD, and song lyrics handouts.
Ask your students which pop singers they like the most and write them on the board. With most children learning EFL/ESL all over the world, you’ll usually get a list of mostly American and British singers, with a couple from their own country thrown in for good measure. This quick 3 minute opening simply gets the kids awake and talking about music and their favorite singers. (3 minutes)
Now split the kids into pairs or groups and distribute a copy of the lyrics handout you’ve prepared before class to each pair or group. The handout should be lyrics from a popular song, a song the children know with beginning English and one they may not with more advanced students. Preferably try to choose a song that’s from a world-famous American or British group, as the kids will think it’s ‘cool’ to be listening to this in class.
Before class, make sure you have cut each song lyric handout into strips, with one line of lyrics on each strip (mix up the strips before you hand them out). (3 minutes)
Explain to the children you will play the song that the lyrics are from. The first time they should just listen to it. The second time, you’re going to play the song and their job is to put the lyrics from the cut up lyrics sheet into the correct order. Play the song through four times. The first time, just listen. The second two times, play it straight through without stopping. The third time, particularly if the children are having problems, keep stopping the song after just a few lines, to give the kids time to think and to catch up. (15 minutes)
After the third time through, give each group a lyrics handout sheet, this time not cut up, and have them spend five minutes figuring out how many lines they got in the correct order and how many they didn’t. (5 minutes)
Ask the class which vocabulary in the song they didn’t understand and write it on the board. Go over each word and explain what it means. By this point, the students should understand what most of the song means. (I also choose a song in which I know my students will understand at least 75% of it. (10 minutes)
Now choose two words from the board for each pair or group (each pair or group gets a different two words). Explain to the class that their last job is to write their own chorus for the song, and the two words you gave them must be in it. Play the chorus two or three times, then give the students ten minutes to write. (10 minutes)
Spend the last 10 minutes of class playing the first verse of the song and having each pair or group sing their chorus (the kids love this, and get really serious about their version). At the end, choose a pair or group as the winners, and award a prize (if that’s what you do in class) or a certificate.
1. Students understanding of vocabulary in the song lyrics, 2. behavior, participation and attention in class, 3. how well they can write a short chorus and sing it.
Learning new English vocabulary doesn’t have to be boring and learning it by playing pop songs is a wonderful way for the kids to have fun as well as learn.