Listen up to a lyrical way of learning languages

20th June 2014 at 01:00

In Sweden, English is our second language, but studies have shown that Swedish students have the same English skills as students in Malta, where it is an official language. The level in English lessons must therefore be challenging in order to meet the needs of our high-performing students.

My favourite way of providing this challenge is by using music, which I love to listen to as much as my students.

First, I choose a familiar song (for example, Wake Me Up by Avicii). I hand each student a copy of the lyrics with all the verbs deleted. We listen to the song and the students fill in the missing words.

I then put the students in pairs and tell them to list the verbs and find the different forms of each one.

Next, I find a rap song (such as Eminem's Sing for the Moment) and hand out a lyric sheet on which I have deleted advanced vocabulary or words with a difficult spelling. Again, the students try to work out what the missing words might be. They work in pairs to compare ideas and we then check the right answers together as a class - both the spelling and the meaning.

Now the students get to pick any song they want, as long as it has plenty of words. I tell them to google the lyrics, copy them into a document and delete the title. They swap with a peer and try to analyse the text. What type of song do they think it is? Do they recognise the lyrics? What do they think the song is about?

They write down their answers along with five words that they don't know and look up their definitions. If they know all the words (sometimes, it does happen), then I get them to underline prepositions.

I believe it is important to do things that the students think are fun because they are more likely to be engaged. Learning English doesn't have to mean studying a textbook.

Sofia Larsson teaches English at NTI Gymnasiet in Stockholm, Sweden

To download a worksheet for this lesson, visit www.tesconnect.comMyBestLesson

Tell us about your best lesson


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today