Low Prep Ideas for Using Music
Ideas for Using Music in the ESL/EFL Classroom
Lyric Strips— This works especially well for low level students. Make multiple copies of the lyrics; then, cut the lyrics into strips. (The lower the level, the fewer the strips.) Preview select vocabulary, ask a few theme-based questions if you want, then play the song a couple of times. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups to arrange the lyrics correctly. Check and review as you deem appropriate.
One Word, One Line— This is the no prep alternative to making a cloze. (It’s also a good alternative if you don’t have access to a photocopier.) It works with high intermediate and advanced students. Go through the lyrics and choose one word from every line. Make sure you’re choosing any difficult vocabulary. Write these words–in the order they appear in the song–on the board. Preview the vocabulary. If it’s a song the students aren’t familiar with, you could also ask them to predict what the song is about based on the words you’ve chosen. Play the song once for general comprehension/main idea. Then, play it again, this time stopping the tape/CD, so that students have a chance to write down the lyrics. Remind the students that they should use the words on the board as a guide and that song lyrics are (generally) grammatically correct. Next, put the students into pairs or groups and allow them time to compare and revise their lyrics. Circulate and assist as needed. Finally, once the students have most of the lyrics, play the song again so they can check their work. If it’s a song the students really like, you can even play it a fourth time and have them all sing along.
The Path of Least Resistance— Play the song. Students write down the lyrics. You play it again. Students write some more lyrics and compare. Eventually, you review it. (Come on, you could at least give them one word from each line. You’ve gotta at least look like you’ve prepared. Is your job really that bad?)