Teach English with Songs

Pictures taken from Shelley Ann Vernon's ESL song movies

Hello and welcome to this post on how to teach English with songs! There is a free song movie for you on this page, but first, let’s see how to use it.

Why teach English with songs?


Songs are brilliant for vocabulary acquisition, language learning and fluency. Music also lightens the mood in class and makes people feel good, (as long as you aren’t teaching aggressive rap by “I’m deeply cool but everybody else, the government, society and the rest of the world totally sucks”).

Pupils need to hear a song many, many times before they know the words and tune by heart. You can’t very well play a song over and over in class while the kids sit there, so how can you teach songs? Using the six steps below you will teach songs in a varied and interesting way, and appeal to all different types of learning styles.

How to teach English with songs in six steps


1. Use songs with limited words

Too many words means that your kids have no chance of learning them. My songs are perfect. Use them alongside the matching stories, or alone.

2. Play the songs as background music to games

If you have space there are fun games like musical vocabulary. If you don’t have space, play a passing game and when you stop the music, kids do a forfeit. (A forfeit in this context is something like say ten words without taking a breath, do five star jumps, pretend to be a monkey, mime being a hairdresser, etc.)

3. Pre-teach the key vocabulary

Prepare students for the song by teaching keywords in advance, using games. When children hear the song they will already recognize the main words and this helps them piece the rest together.

4. Work with the text

It’s fun to piece the text together like a puzzle while listening to the music. Or play a game like Find Your Friend, where kids have part of the song and they have to find the students who have the other parts.

5. Work with the meaning

Do actions for the key nouns and phrases. As the song plays rehearse a choreography with meaningful actions. My songs come with masks of the characters, for role-plays and acting out the song. Wearing a mask can help shy kids come out of their shell too.

6. Use song videos

Once you have done the five steps above, show the song video. Here kids see visual vocabulary clues and how the words are written. You get a few minutes breather while your class is mesmerized by the screen!


7. Use songs that work!

Hear from Tatiana Costache, using these songs in Russia:

“I just wanted to say that my son adores The ants are marching down the path song. We often hear your CD in the car and M. likes to follow the sequence of the ants falling asleep. Sometimes I have to leave him in the car for a while until the song is finished. I love your song and lessons too because they are very repetitive and the vocabulary gradually increases. You play with the same terms and each time add some more. I really like your teaching style!”

ESL Song kit For Teachers


Order my complete song kit here.


– 16 songs for children aged 3-6.

– 16 backing tracks for karaoke

– Masks of the characters in colour and black and white

– Activities to teach every song

– 16 song movies with words and pictures


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