Use Music in The ESL Classroom

How To Use Music in the ESL Classroom

Music. “The food of love” (Shakespeare), “the sound of feelings” (Georgia Cates), “the pleasure which human nature cannot do without” (Confucious). Everyone enjoys music, so why not use it in your ESL classroom? When teaching English – both to kids and to adults – music can help with retaining words and information, elevate or calm a mood and inspire discussions. All ages can enjoy English music and teachers can relate songs to almost any topic or activity.


Here are my tips on how to use music in the ESL classroom.


Build Vocabulary

Teaching a song related to Lexis learnt in your classroom can help your students to internalise and remember what they have been taught. There’s nothing like a catchy tune that will be stuck in your students’ heads for a week.


Change the Mood

Use an energetic song to liven up your class, or a gentle song to calm them when they get too rowdy. In particular, you can start the class with music, so that your students know that they will only be communicating in English. Or, you can use music to signify class is ending and it’s time to wrap up. Music is great for class management which is all shaped by mood!



Have older students think about what a certain song means to them. Many songs can be interpreted in different ways and open to debate on what the topic is. Picking metaphors in lines of songs are fantastic ways of teaching rhetorical devices!



Playing some music while your student’s complete work can help them remember information and focus on what they are doing, as well as creating a safe and inspiring environment.



Encourage creativity in your classroom by asking your students to write a song, the next verse of a song, or draw a picture when listening to the song. Students love the opportunity to be creative and have fun, they may surprise you with what they come out with!



Get students of all ages involved in the song they listen to by sharing their thoughts about it. Do they like it? Why/why not? What do they think the song is trying to say?



Print out some song lyrics and see what your students think about them when taken out of their context. This one can be a fun activity and used as an ice breaker!



How will you use music in your classes?

 Teach English abroad with EF English First and find out!



Post by Jaye Plant, EF English First Shanghai

JayeJaye is a keen writer with an obsession for travel. When Jaye is not teaching, she can be found around Shanghai, exploring new places and feeding her coffee addiction.

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