10 activities for working with song lyrics

1) Make a recording of a few snippets of a song you want to teach (for example, a drum break, part of a guitar solo, the opening of the song, a tiny piece of the chorus, etc.). Ask students to guess what some of the lyrics are and write these up on the board.

2) Create a worksheet with the lyrics of a good song, with a few errors on the page. Hand it out to your students and see if they can spot the errors. Then, play the song and ask them if they were right.

3) Dictate 10 to 15 words from a song. Your students must choose 5 of them. Play the song, and tell them to cross out the words when they hear them. The first one to cross out all 5 is the winner.

4) Make a recording of several different people reacting to 3 or 4 songs. Play the reactions (without the songs), then play a little of each song. Invite your students to match the verbal reactions to the song.

5) Write 3 song lyrics that you personally find interesting, amusing or memorable on the board. Then encourage the class to come to the board and do the same. Put students in pairs, and assign them to use the words and phrases on the board to write lyrics to a new song.

6) On an ongoing basis, every week have a different student bring a song to class, play it, pass out a handout containing the lyrics, and explain why he or she likes the song.

7) Ask your class to work in groups and transfer the lyrics to a song you've taught them into a different form (news report, personal ad, telegram, etc.)

8) Prepare a phrase or sentence from a song you are going to teach. In class, ask one student to leave the classroom. Put the the students in groups, the same number as the number of words in the phrase. Each group gets one word of the lyric. Then, bring the student back in. All groups call out their words simultaneously, and the student has to put the words back in order.

9) In EFL classes, you can have a student stand at the front of the class and use English to describe a popular native language song. His or her classmates must guess which song it is.

10) Prepare 5 copies of the lyrics to a song. Then cut up the lyrics into about 10 strips. Put each group of cut-up lyrics into an envelope. During class, divide the class into 5 groups and give each group an envelope. Their task is to put the lyrics up on the board in the correct order. Play the song so they can check their answers.

Originally posted on Dave's ESL Cafe Jan 2003
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