- Keywords: Songs, online interaction, pragmatics
- Learner English level: Pre-intermediate and above
- Learner maturity: University
- Preparation: 1 hour
- Activity time: 3-5 hours, depending on class size, over three weeks
- Materials: Google document, example introduction (see Appendix), computer and projector (or Zoom, etc.)
In this activity, students introduce English songs to their classmates on a shared online document and respond to each other’s songs. Ideally conducted at the beginning of the school year as students get to know each other, this activity fulfils two important purposes: it provides students with an opportunity to interact positively with each of their new classmates and it brings students into contact with large amounts of the target language (songs, song lyrics, and classmates’ writing).
Step 1: Set up a horizontally formatted Google Document, which can be edited by by all the class members.
Step 2: Write a model introduction to an English song that you like. This should include the song title, singer or band name, a YouTube link to the song, a URL for the song lyrics, and a brief explanation of why you like this song (see Appendix).
Step 3: As examples for students, add a couple of real or fictional comments from fellow teachers or friends, together with your responses to these comments. Keep these simple and not too long (see Appendix).
Step 4: Below these examples, put a list of the names of the students in your class, so that they can add their comments about your song.
Step 5: Create a new section of the document for each student in the class. Under the student’s name, set out the same headings as for your example: Song title and Singer or band, YouTube link, Lyrics URL, and Why I chose this song. Then, as in Step 4, add a list of all the other students in the class, together with the teacher’s name at the bottom of the list. (See Appendix)
Step 1: Introduce this activity. Show the prepared Google Document, with the links for the YouTube video and song lyrics for your song. Play the song, briefly show the lyrics, and read aloud what you have written, the comments, and your responses.
Step 2: Tell each student to write a comment about your song on the line on which their name is written.
Step 3: As students complete Step 2, give a short response to each student’s comment.
Step 4: As homework, tell the students to choose a song and write an introduction to it in their section of the Google Document. Remind them to provide the links to the YouTube video and lyrics, as per your example.
Step 5: When the homework is complete, tell the students to read about their classmates’ chosen songs, listen to the songs, read the lyrics, and write a comment about each song. This requires some independent work, so can also be done as homework to save class time.
Step 6: Finally, as Step 5 is being completed, instruct the students to respond to each classmate’s comment about their song by the following class.
Step 7: In class, celebrate the completion of this activity, and respond to any language issues that have come up.
Start future classes by playing one or two of the students’ chosen songs, possibly showing the students’ introductions to the songs.
This activity is especially useful for building confidence and developing relationships with new classmates in the first classes of a new course. It has proven very popular, with students expressing appreciation for the language use involved, for the contact it provided with classmates, and for the songs they introduced.
A colored version of the appendix is also available below.
A Song I Like!
Song title and singer or band: “Happy” Tokyo by Pharrell Williams
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qrdu62uZqQ
Song lyrics URL: https://genius.com/Pharrell-williams-happy-lyrics
Why I chose this song: Hello, everyone! The song I have chosen to share with our class is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
I first heard this song about eight years ago - and I danced in my kitchen as I listened to it! When the Coronavirus pandemic started, I found this version set in Tokyo and it really cheered me up. I like the way they show all different kinds of people in different public places in Tokyo enjoying dancing to this song - being HAPPY! I hope you like it, too!
By the way, do you remember this song from when it came out?
Comments, questions, and responses! (Choose the colour font you like!)
Amir Feroze: I like this song, too. Do you want to dance? Jim: Yes, but not with you - hahaha ;-)
Kris Habacon: The lyrics are a bit strange! “a house without a roof”?! Jim: True, but I like those lyrics, too, including “a house without a roof”!
Naomi Miura: I like this song because I feel that my heart has become strong! Jim: Yes, free and strong—I listen and imagine I can dance in the street like that!
Nana Matsuura: I feel they really enjoyed dancing! Jim: Yes, they look so full of life, and I want more of that, too!
Koki Miyamoto: Do you remember this song from when it came out? Jim: I remember the first time I heard it—about 10 years ago?
Rei Fukui: I have heard the song. The song makes us happy. Jim: Yes, it reminds me of that Japanese song by Ai, Happiness!
Momoka Fujii: I have heard this famous song many times on TV and in shops. this song made me happy too, Jim: Good to hear from you! I’m glad you like it, too :-)
Yuma Kawachi: This song makes me happy!!! When I sit in the train, I become happy. If I feel lonely and sad, I listen to this music!!!! Jim: Yuma, let’s play it in class one day! Do you think that everyone will dance? Maybe in our final class - in January!
Hyuga Kawamoto: I have heard it somewhere before. This song has a big power and I felt whenever we listen to it, anyone can be happy!
Jim: Thanks, Hyuga. I usually only listen to this song when I’m already happy—but I want to believe it can change our moods!
Arisa Fujita: I like this song very much too!! I hope these happy days will return with the decrease in the coronavirus~ ;-) Jim: Yes, you’re right - and I think it’s the hope in this song and video in this song that makes me love it!
Kosuke Matsuo: I have heard the song many times!! I like it too! Jim: I’m glad so many people like this song. This YouTube video is special, too!