I use music a lot in my teaching of English Language Learners. I thought people might find it helpful to see which sites I believe to be the best out there to help teach English — Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced – through music. My students have certainly found them helpful.
Music is a familiar, fun, and engaging tool to use in learning a second language. This list includes sites that have music to listen to, activities for students to do, and ways for them to create their own.
This is latest of my “The Best…” series, also known as Websites Of The Year. The sites on this list can be found, along with 8,000 other categorized links, on my website. I am also in the process of designing a special page on my website so that it’s easy for students to access my lists of The Best Websites on their own.
You might also be interested in an interview I did about using music in the ESL/EFL classroom.
Lastly, you might find these other “The Best…” lists useful:
The Best Music Websites For Learning English
The Best Online Sites For Creating Music
The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners
Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Music Sites
The Best Places To Get Royalty-Free Music & Sound Effects
The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web
The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments
The Best — And Easiest — Ways To Use YouTube If, Like Us, Only Teachers Have Access To It
Here are what I believe to be the thirteen (well, really fifteen) best music websites for learning English:
Number thirteen is the Music Page from the Language Guide, the best audio/picture dictionary on the Web for English Language Learners. It’s obviously important for students to understand some basic music vocabulary.
Number twelve is Musical English Lessons International. This site has an enormous number of ready-to-print activities that students can use to develop their English skills while listening to music.
The English Language Listening Lab Online, also known as ELLO, has a good Music page that I’m ranking eleventh. Students can listen to pop tunes and many, but not all, have follow-up exercises that can be accessed by clicking on “Word Challenge.”
Number ten is a new site called Lyrics Mode. This is clearly the best source for accurate song lyrics to print-out without having to put-up with countless annoying pop-up adds that are prevalent in other lyrics sites.
I’m very tentatively naming another new site called Songza as a sort of companion on this list to Lyrics Mode, though I’m not giving it a “formal” rank. Songza has millions of songs you can play “on-demand,” including many that I use in my teaching. You can also create your own “playlists.” It’s an incredible resource to be able to use in your classroom. However, even though everything I have read about Songza and several similar sites in numerous blogs and journals doesn’t give any indication of potential legal issues, I still don’t understand how they can offer this service without violating copyright laws. Until that’s clearer in my mind I don’t feel I can give it an official spot on my list.
Number seven is EFL Club Songs, which has been a favorite of my students. It, too, has clozes to be completed while listening to popular songs.
Number six is off-line.
The site originally ranked number five on this list has unfortunately gone off-line.
I’m putting My Pop Studio at number four. Students can create their own recording artist, the music and the lyrics. It’s a real fun activity.
The original sites rated first and second on this list have unfortunately gone out of business. But you might want to check-out The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners.
Using Songs In The English Classroom by Hans Mol, a teacher in Australia, is a short article that was just published in Humanising Language Teaching Magazine (which is on The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers list). It gives a very good overview of different language-development activities that can be done with music.
Mondos: Song Lessons offers a lot of excellent song-related activities for English Language Learners.
Meltinpop is a new site dedicated to what they call “free association.” Users identify “themes” related to anything they are interesting in — songs related to food, movie scenes with car chases, scenes from television shows about doctors, etc. Other users then respond with their suggestions. It’s got quite a few “themes” already started. This could be very handy for ESL/EFL teachers looking for multimedia to connect to the thematic unit or specific lesson they want to teach. You can only log-in through Facebook, so it probably wouldn’t be workable for student use.
Teaching English through songs in the digital age is a four part series by Vicky Saumell summarizing a recent #ELTchat session on Twitter. I can’t imagine you’d find a better compilation of resources and teaching ideas anyway — it’s a must-read and must-bookmark resource.
And, if that isn’t enough for you, Eva Büyüksimkeşyan has also posted another exhaustive list of music-related resources: Songs in EFL Classroom.
About two months ago, our District changed its policy and allowed teachers to access many previously-blocked site, including YouTube. It really expands learning opportunities for our students in so many ways. I wanted to share two great music sites we can now use with our students:
One is Lyrics Training. It shows YouTube videos of the latest popular songs, and provides subtitled “clozes.” In other words, it will show the words as they are sung, but it will periodically show a “blank” where a word has been removed. The video will stop at the end of that line, and listeners have to type in the correct word that they heard. The “blank” also shows how many letters there are in the missing word. You’re given the option of watching the video with a few blanks, more blanks, or none (which is great after you complete the whole song). It’s great to project it up on the screen and then have students — either individually or in small groups — use small whiteboards to write down their answers. It’s simple to use — no registration is necessary — and you can learn more about it at Teacher Training Videos.
Batlyrics has been on The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web list for awhile. It shows the lyrics on the side while playing a YouTube video of the song at the same time. Now that we can access YouTube, it’s great to have a full sing-along.
Classroom Songs: 16 Creative Ways lists some good ways to use music in the ESL/EFL classroom.
I’m making some new additions to this list focused on research that supports using music in the classroom:
David Deubelbeiss has developed another great resource for ESL/EFL teachers — tons of music videos with lyric sheets, including clozes.
Using Songs in the EFL Classroom is an online presentation by David Deubelbeiss
David Deubelbeiss recently revamped the music lyrics search on EFL Classroom 2.0.
clubEFL has the Picture Dictionary, that has mostly YouTube music videos and interactive exercises.
The British Council reorganized their website awhile back, and now that have all their songs for English Language Learners (including closed-captioning) all in one place. It’s an excellent resource.
10 Reasons why Songs with Subtitles make Sense comes from The British Council.
David Deubelbeiss has put together a great virtual online book of songs and videos for ELLs.