Author: Deb Avery | Published on 1 September 2022


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

When I give my learners a listening activity, they always complain that they don’t understand anything and can’t remember what they heard. To help them, I use texts they find engaging, like songs. I make the task easier by giving them small chunks to listen to and write down. They have to listen really carefully to the vocabulary and sentence structure. It also helps them to learn to work in groups and pairs.

Stage 1: Prepare

  1. Select a song with simple lyrics that the learners don’t know. If you do not want to sing it, find a recording on your mobile phone or a CD.
  2. Think about how to divide the song into smaller chunks e.g. verses, the chorus, etc.
  3. Write the lyrics on a large sheet of paper or a card to display at the end of the lesson.

Stage 2: Explain

Explain to the learners that they will listen to a song and, as a class, write down all the lyrics.

Say: ‘You won’t be working alone. First, you’re going to work with a partner, and then in small groups. Each group will write down one part of the song. As a class we will complete the task.’

Say: ‘The first time you listen to the song, don’t write anything down. Just listen carefully. Then follow my instructions.’

Sing or play through the song once. 

Stage 3: Listen

Now divide learners into pairs or small groups. Give them each one verse to write down as they listen. Everyone will listen to the whole song, but each group should only write down the text of their verse.

Say: ‘Listen to the whole song, but write out only the words for your verse. Don’t worry if you don’t catch all the words. Just write down all you can. After writing out your part of the text, compare with your partner.’

Sing or play the song again.

Say: ‘Listen to the song again. You should be able to write out more words this time.’

Sing or play the song again. 

Stage 4: Do group work

Group together learners who listened to the same verse.

Say: ‘Now you are going to make a bigger group made up of the different verses of the song. Let’s all listen to the song again and you can refer to your notes. After listening, as a group, try to write down the whole verse.’

Play or sing the song and allow each group to work to complete their verse.

Stage 5: Consolidate

Display the chart with the lyrics. The learners check and correct their version of the lyrics.

Say: ‘Now that you’ve done the hard part, let’s have some fun! We’ll listen to the song one last time and you can join in and sing if you would like to.’

Sing the song with the class.

This type of activity is called a dictogloss and can be used to construct any text, not only song lyrics. It can be used for stronger learners to support others so that everyone sees success. 


Dictogloss: a form of dictation in which students hear a complete text then try to reconstruct it from memory

Lyrics: the words of a song