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Songs as a Tool to Teach Grammar

Songs as a Tool to Teach Grammar | ITTT | TEFL Blog

To begin with, I have been teaching English for more than 30 years. I teach groups of students and individuals of different ages and abilities. That is why I have always had a problem how to raise my students’ motivation, how to make my lessons interesting and exciting so that the bell at the end of the class would be for me, not for my students. I have always wanted them to be upset that the lesson is over. As a result of this research, I concluded that along with having different games, quizzes, puzzles, crosswords and project works, learning and singing songs is as challenging and helpful as doing grammar exercises. The results of learning English songs by heart is stunning. Do not think that I do this activity only for entertainment. It is a big grammar work, improvement of pronunciation, one of the ways to get nearer to the British and American culture and traditions. So, what are the advantages of learning songs in the classroom?

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Shakhida U. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

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Teaching Tenses

Many songs can introduce English tenses better than any teacher can do it on the board. The problem is that in Russian, which is my students’ native language, there are only three tenses (Past, Present, and Future) while in English there are twelve. Thus when I want to explain the Present Continuous Tense and show its difference between other Present Tenses, I offer my students to listen, read and analyze the song I am sailing, singer Rod Stewart. I demonstrate the text of the song on the screen of my IWB and students listen to and follow the text simultaneously. Then I ask them to copy the text into their copy books, find and underline the sentences which are used in the Present Continuous Tense.

Also Read: Cross-Cultural Communication in the Classroom

For example

  • I am sailing, I am sailing
  • Home again, across the sea.
  • I am sailing stormy waters
  • To be near you, to be free.
  • We are sailing, we are sailing and so on

After analyzing grammar in the text, students read line by line after the teacher in the chorus and individually (3x3) and sing the song together according to the recording. It is very effective to work with the song during the second stage of ESA lesson, during study stage. Another way to find out how the students understood the Present Continuous Tense is to let them listen to the song Lemon Tree and write down in their exercise books only the sentences where they hear the Present Continuous Tense. This task is better to be done during the Engage stage of the ESA lesson.

For example

  • I am sitting
  • I am wasting my time
  • I am hanging around
  • I am waiting for you
  • I am driving too fast
  • I am hanging around
  • I am turning my head and so on

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The students then may be asked to express these sentences with other pronouns or names, transform them into interrogative and negative forms. It depends on the teacher’s creativity and the amount of time during the lesson, also on the number of students in the group. Students should work in pairs or small groups of 3-4. This was only one of the examples of how to teach grammar. The same can be done with the song Mr. Morton when presenting the Past Simple Tense. Students can hear a lot of regular and irregular words from this song. When presenting, teaching and practicing the Present Perfect Tense, the best song, in my opinion, is What have they done to the rain? When I want to show the difference between British and American English, the song English Man in New York is the best alternative.

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In conclusion, I would like to point out that learning grammar through English songs in class develops not only grammar skills but enhances listening, speaking and writing skills as well. Also, singing songs does not take much time as it can be used as a warm-up exercise at the beginning of the lesson, but it is a great motivator and encourager for students to master English with great desire.

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