Using songs in the ELT class has always been a great way to engage students and to help them learn English better. Songs provide good models of authentic language, they are fun, and the words and melody stick to students’ minds, so they are really efficient in teaching.
In my book Aprenda Inglês Cantando e Aprenda a Cantar em Inglês, which I co-wrote with Cris Gontow, there are lots of ideas for students to learn English using songs. However, teachers can also use the book to get ideas to use in their classes.
I like to use short segments from songs rather than just one whole song, because this allows me to use different songs to work on the grammar topic that I’m teaching. It’s almost impossible to find one song that all your students like, but by using several segments of songs, you increase your chances of students enjoying at least one of them.
This is an activity from the next book I’m writing, which will be published soon.
An activity that I use a lot is having students change the words in a song. Let’s say you’re teaching the Past Continuous. There are several songs that have verses in the Past Continuous. I’m sure you know some of them.
Take the song “I Was Walking,” by Ringo Starr, for example. (You can find it on YouTube) Here are the verses I use with my students.
I was walking
I was talking
I was talking to myself last night
I was dancing
Yeah, I was dancing
I was dancing by myself last night
There are lot of programs and apps that you can use to edit songs, so it’s pretty simple to play just one segment of the song. I write the words on the board or use a slide.
First, I have my students sing these verses a few times. I call their attention to the form of the Past Continuous (Subject + verb to be + verb + ing). Then I erase the main verb and the prepositions “to” and “by.”
After that, I ask students to suggest other verbs that can be used instead of “walk,” “talk,” and “dance.” According to the verbs they choose, they have to say which preposition to use in the third and sixth lines. After they do that, I have students sing the new version of the song, using the words that they have chosen.
Sometimes I divide students into groups and have each group come up with a different version of the song and then sing it to the whole class.
Even though this activity is a lot of fun, this is actually a substitution drill. Students will be singing different lines using the Past Continuous several times with different verbs.
There are many different songs that have verses in the Past Continuous. You can use any song that you like. And if your students complain they don’t like the song you chose, ask them to find a song that they like which has the Past Continuous. And then have them sing the song and change the words.
You can do this activity to practice any verb tense. Just use your imagination!
Cantar pode ser uma maneira divertida de se aprender inglês. Neste livro os autores apresentam dicas práticas em linguagem acessível, que ajudam o leitor a ter mais sucesso no seu aprendizado do idioma inglês através da música. O livro contém atividades para se praticar gramática, aumentar o vocabulário e aperfeiçoar a pronúncia. E para quem quer apenas aprender a cantar em inglês, o livro é de grande ajuda.