Listening gap-fills with songs were one of my favorite activities in Spanish class and now they’re one of my students’ favorite activities in the EFL classes I teach. They’re popular with both kids and adults. There are lots of ways to use them.
Sometimes I use songs as a way of introducing a grammar point. In a basic text-based approach to presenting the target language (TL), I use a gap-fill where the missing words are examples of the TL. I’ve done this with comparatives, superlatives, present continuous and lots of others. “Lemon Tree” by Fool’s Garden is great for present continuous. Students first listen and fill in the gaps. Then after eliciting the similarity between the missing words, I continue with the language focus. The song provides a context for the focus on meaning, form and pronunciation. This is a lot of fun for students and makes the language focus a lot more engaging.
Songs are also a great way to focus on a specific vocabulary set. I love using Lenka’s “Everything at Once” for animals and Shania Twain’s “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face” for jobs. It’s a good way to start or end a vocabulary set. It’s also nice as a quick way to review in a later lesson.
Songs are perfect for highlighting features of connected speech. Students get to hear them in a song and then try to copy after listening. They get excited when they can understand the words and recognize them after focusing on it as a class.
If you haven’t used the website www.lyricstraining.com with your students, you have to check it out. You can pick from a wide range of songs linked to their music videos. It has gapped lyrics that have to be filled in as the song plays. It allows you to replay lines if needed or skip them. It doesn’t allow incorrect spellings, so it also helps with that. I usually use it once or twice in class as a filler. I have it projected on the IWB and get one student to type the missing words as other students shout them out. I usually use it as a filler or after a test and then get students to use it at home. They take a picture of their score and then compare scores in the next lesson to see who did the best.
Sometimes it can be nice to just have music playing in the background as students work on another task. I’ve noticed that it helps them work a bit quicker. Plus it’s extra exposure to English, which is always good.