Using Music in the Classroom

I’ve wanted to try using music in the classroom for some time now. Most listening lessons using the audio from the course books can be dull and far from engaging, so I wanted to try and turn a current song into a listening exercise to make it a bit more interesting for the students while helping them to develop a skill.

It’s not a new idea — it’s been done in many ELT classrooms — but I’d never tried it myself and didn’t really know how to go about it. Planning for the activity was about one week in the making and it started with finding the right song.

I decided to use “Cool Kids” by Echosmith for two reasons. One, it has a good tempo where my pre-intermediate students would be able to follow the lyrics without too much difficulty. Two, the lyrics included tenses that we had been learning in class — simple and continuous — so it was perfect, really.

I constructed three simple tasks for the activity. The first task was to choose the overall message of the chorus to check comprehension. The second task had a list of similar sounding words in continuous tenses, and the students had to circle the words that they heard while listening to the song. The third and final task had the simple tenses blanked out on a worksheet with the lyrics, and the students had to write down the missing words while listening to the song for the second time. Each task concluded with pair check and whole class feedback.

Overall, I think it went quite well. The students enjoyed the music and it was refreshing to do something a little different in class. I’ll try it again with my afternoon class some time this week — it will be interesting to see if they will have the same response to the activity. Looking forward to the results. 🙂



Positive Observation Feedback

Last Friday, I had my very first lesson observation by the in-house teacher trainer. The lesson planning leading up to the observation was very reminiscent of my CELTA days, and it was great — I felt like I was in my element. Lesson planning has always been my strong suit, though, and it’s in my execution where I feel I’m a little less solid. So as usual, I was nervous on observation day — sweating, of course.

As soon as I got started with the lesson, I felt very relaxed. I’d been teaching this class for two weeks already, so I was familiar with them and I’d already established rapport. I went through the stages and I modified the plan when I felt it was necessary. Overall, I felt that it went well — nothing particularly spectacular, but the aims were met.

After the lesson, I did my self-reflection and analysis, then it was time for the feedback session with the trainer — my pen and notebook at the ready for any and all criticisms. His opening words were, “I didn’t know what to expect because I don’t know much about you and I know that you don’t have much previous experience, but I was very impressed.” He went on to say that it was quite rare for someone’s very first observation to go as well as mine did and that he ran out of space to list down my strengths. He also mentioned that my lesson was DELTA standard.

I cannot describe how I felt at that moment. It was probably a mixture of surprise, gratitude, and pride. Prior to the lesson, I thought a lot about one of my Teaching Practice sessions in CELTA wherein I felt that the lesson had gone horribly only to find out afterwards that my trainer had given me an above standard mark. It was a similar feeling then, thinking it went alright but the feedback indicating it was more than just alright. It was a massive confidence booster.

I’ve always known that I am a capable teacher and I know that I can get the job done. This is exactly what I’ve been fighting for ever since I got my CELTA leading up to my degree and my job search. I know that I can do it and I know that I’m a good teacher, but I often underestimate or undervalue myself — I have always been my harshest critic. After this observation, though, I feel a change in that.

Looking forward to what’s to come.