Author: Deb Avery | Published on 2 January 2023 


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

It is motivating and fun for teens to do things in class which they also do outside school. Most teens love listening to music, so I use songs as part of my language teaching. It’s important to choose the songs carefully. I use songs to develop listening skills, build vocabulary and use grammar in a real situation.

Stage 1: Prepare

Select a song with simple lyrics. It can be a traditional or more recent song. You can sing the song yourself or find a recording (on a phone or CD).

Write lines or phrases from the song on pieces of paper. 

[b/w drawing of a two strips of card with song lyrics written – one phrase per card.]  

Stage 2: Explain

Say: “We are going to listen to a song. You will need to listen carefully and identify specific phrases as you hear them.”

Put the learners into groups of 5-6.  

Give each group one piece of paper. Each should have a different phrase from the song. 

Say: “Read the words on your card. When you hear those words playing, hold it up. When you hear the next set of words, put your card down. Listen carefully because your words might be played more than once.”

Stage 3: Listen

Give the learners 30 seconds to read their pieces of paper. Then sing or play the song. When learners hear the words on their card, they hold it up.

Pause if the learners are finding the activity difficult.

Play the song as many times as necessary.

Stage 4: Reconstruct the lyrics

As a whole class, learners must put the phrases in the correct order. 

Say: “Let’s see all the words for the song. I will read the words slowly. When you hear your phrase, come and put it on the board in the correct order.” Learners can stick their piece of paper to the board, or write the lyrics.

When all the words are on the board, the learners read the words aloud.  

Stage 5: Extend the activity

Write parts of speech which occur in the song on the board, e.g. 

  • noun
  • verb
  • pronoun
  • adjective
  • adverb
  • conjunction
  • preposition
  • question tag
  • opposites

In groups, learners look at their phrase or line and identify as many parts of speech as possible.

As a class, read through the lyrics and allow each group to talk about their phrase/line.

Use songs that will be of interest to your class.  Older learners can use longer songs. Young learners can work with songs which are already familiar. Keep the phrase cards and use them to make up stories, draw pictures, etc.


Lyrics: the words of a popular song.