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5 Ways to Use Music in the Classroom Part 2: Activities

Emily Smith

When you are teaching a foreign language it’s often a challenge to make the lesson truly engaging. This is largely due to the language barrier that exists between you and the student(s), particularly in classes for beginners. That’s why it’s important to get creative, and what better way to do that then to use creative mediums.

Music is one such medium that can work to your advantage. Because most students love music it’s easy to engage students with a good song. Adding music can make both the teaching and learning experience a lot more interesting! But how can you add music to your lesson in a constructive yet engaging way? Here are a few ways to set your language lesson to music:


1. Visualization- Tell your students to close their eyes. Turn on music without lyrics. You can use jazz, techno, dubstep, classical, or any other kind of music that you wish. Now tell your students to imagine themselves in a scenario. Tell them to pay attention to the details – how are they feeling, what are they wearing, who else is there? Have they ever been in this situation before or is it an entirely new experience? After a few minutes stop the music. Have the students take turns describing what they saw and felt when the music was playing. Do this again with music of a different tempo/genre. Again have the students describe the scenario they envisioned. For more advanced classes, you can compare and contrast the scenarios from the two different types of music.

2. Adjectives & Emotions – Bring 5-6 songs that have very different tempos and rhythms. Play a clip of each song and have the students write down the adjectives and emotions they feel describe the song. Have the students share their words with the class and see if the other students agree or disagree with the description. Do this with all of the songs.

3. Song Lyrics – Play a song with lyrics. While the song is playing, have your students write down as many of the lyrics as they can understand. After the song is over, combine the “understood” lyrics from the entire class on the board. See where there are gaps and replay those parts of the song. See if the students can understand the gaps the second or third time around. If not, fill the gaps in for them. This exercise helps with listening comprehension.

Music is one such medium that can work to your advantage. Because most students love music it’s easy to engage students with a good song.

4. Directions- Have two students come to the front of the class. Blindfold one of them. Place a ball or other object somewhere in the classroom. Now, play the music. The student who is not blindfolded must direct the blindfolded student to the ball before the song finishes.

5. Tense Game – Play a song with slightly simple song lyrics. Give the students a printout of the lyrics. Now, tell the students to change the tense of the lyrics. The challenge is that the new tense should be consistent throughout the song. For example, if the lyrics say, “I will leave” the new lyrics will be, “I have left.”
These are just a few ways that you can use music in your classroom, but there are many other ways that music can be added to your daily lesson. As a teacher your goal is to create an environment where your students are receptive to learning, and music is a good way to make that happen. Make sure to give these activities a chance and find out which one works best for you.

Are there any musical activities that you like to use in your classes? Let us know in the comments section below, we would love to hear your thoughts!

About the author

Emily has taught English to ESL learners in four Asian countries. Although she taught students from 3-60, she has a definite affection for preschoolers and college students. She has also worked as an ESL curriculum writer and is TESOL certified. When she is not teaching, she loves watching and making films.