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by Erica Fischer on Mar 25, 2011

Music in the Language Classroom

Music in the language classroomThe weekly #LangChat conversation was fast paced as everyone tweeted away about how valuable music is in the language classroom. Highlights of why it is valuable included the ability to really engage students as you introduce culture, teach new vocabulary and grammatical structures, and give kids opportunities to hear native speakers. Thank you to all the participants. (If we all lived in the same time zone, we could more easily accommodate our European colleagues. Thanks to the few who braved the late hours to join in!)

Elvira Deyamport (@Elle_Gifted) and Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell (@SECottrell) moderated the chat and Zachary Jones (@ZJonesSpanish) attended as a specially invited guest. Thanks also to Diego Ojeda (@DiegoOjeda66) and Erica Fischer (@CalicoTeach), members of the #LangChat Team.

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Why should you use music in your classroom?

  • Songs really helped me become more confident learning English as my second language. @suarez712002
  • Songs are the best way to help our students understand the TL culture. You must bring music you personally like. The students like songs that say something. When you like a song and share a personal experience with it, students connect better. Several tweets by: @DiegoOjeda66
  • Songs include an element of culture and idiomatic expression you can find in little else as motivating. @SECottrell
  • Music brings life into the classroom. @Elle_Gifted
  • Used music today in class to teach grammar, culture and current events!! It was awesome! @cadamsf1
  • The rhythm and repetition of songs are a great way for students to learn vocab & pronunciation. @melindamlarson
  • Music facilitates language learning and retention. @Elle_Gifted
  • My music label – 29 blog posts on using music: @SECottrell
    Students get the songs stuck in their heads and practice the TL all day long! @CalicoTeach
  • Use music for Grammar, Social Issues, Vocab, FUN! @DiegoOjeda66
  • Poetry and prose are a kind of music. Words can be put together to reflect rhythm and beat. @teachingfriends
  • Sing folksongs and use authentic instruments when singing. @Elle_Gifted, @msfrenchteach
  • Blog post: Why music is more powerful than anything (and how to use it.) @SECottrell
  • Music serves as a basis for discussions. @ZJonesSpanish
  • Music allows you to make connections across the curriculum. See these ideas from @ZJonesSpanish.

Spanish Links

  • @ZJonesSpanish’s website –
    • Zachary provides great music resources and cloze activities that are a must visit resource for language teachers.
    • Sign up for his RSS feeds.
    • Everyday he publishes a new cross-curriculuar worksheet based on music.
    • Here’s a link to a recent video he created of a remake for Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in Spanish (Viernes)
    • You can also do a search of his site to look for resources by artist or genre. @ZJonesSpanish
  • Great resource on regional music in Latin America: @Elle_Gifted
  • For elementary: Check out “Every Elementary Teacher needs these songs – I love them! @SECottrell
  • Check out Sra. Birch’s spreadsheet of songs in Spanish by artist, topic, culture. 429 and counting! @SECottrell
  • Contrast Josh Groban’s song “Solo por ti” with @CamiliaMX’s “Solo para ti” @SECottrell
  • Great pop songs and lyrics in Spanish: & another pop song site: @Elle_Gifted
  • Karaoke: Search for song title along with term “karaoke” on YouTube for background tracks. @CalicoTeach, @DiegoOjeda66
  • See what’s currently popular in Spain at Kids can also hear broadcasters.
  • Operación Triunfo is a show in Spain and Argentina similar to American Idol 3 @suarez712002
  • Tatiana and Adriana from Argentina have kid-friendly music. @Elle_Gifted
  • Miguelito is great for elementary Spanish, but be careful with his videos, not all are appropriate for this age. @Elle_Gifted
  • Juanes is great for intermediate and up. @DiegoOjeda66
  • Lists of songs tagged by genre, level, etc. Wiki. @SECottrell.
  • Follow @SECottrell’s list of all the musicians she’s found on Twitter at

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French Links

Resources for multiple languages:

  • Watch videos with cloze activities. Video pauses until student types correct term in the cloze displayed below video. @isedule
  • The Sing-to-Learn wiki from @markpurves is devoted to listing resources for the use of songs in French and Spanish class. Includes videos, audio files, powerpoint and word docs with lyrics. You’ll also find that Mark Purves offers lots of ideas for creating your own music in the TL. For example: “How about using backing tracks of excellent music to put to the language you want to teach? Often FL songs are too complicated lyrically.” Example of @markpurves
  • Good site for karaoke versions of well know FL songs and English songs. @markpurves
  • If you are using a video with questionable lyrics you can use YouTube Chop to edit and use parts instead of a whole video. @Elle_Gifted

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Advice and Activities for using music in the classroom:

  • Post titled: Music in Foreign Language Instruction, Classroom Activities from the Music and Literacy series by @eliza_peterson
  • Don’t translate lyrics. Do preteach important phrases and concepts and use lots of visuals for any pre-listening activities. @ZJonesSpanish says, “I teach in the target language when using songs providing as much context as possible through videos, discussions, images, and comparisons.”
  • Use music videos as much as possible since they combine music and story/drama.
  • Incorporate TV shows like Viva el Sueño @SECottrell
  • Connect to other parts of the curriculum with songs.
  • Depending on the level of your students use cloze activities read background information, videos, websites, rewrite verses, create new rhymes. For beginners, have students analyze the songs for loud/soft, fast/slow, melodic/not melodic, etc. @pamwesely
  • Students love to write original lyrics in the target language and create music videos. @melindamlarson

Diego Ojeda’s Advice and Activities for Using Songs in the Target Language (@DiegoOjeda66)

Always show the video when you introduce a song (watch it first to make sure it is appropriate for your students.) Allow students to get into groups close to their friends when singing. If you really want students to connect with the songs, you will need to spend a month working on the same song.

  1. Read the song syllable by syllable.
  2. As a class read the song word by word. One student at a time.
  3. Alternate reading between groups.
  4. Sing along with your class.
  5. Be dramatic while singing.
  6. Use the popcorn method to read the song.
  7. Don’t keep the same rhythm all the time. I sing Juanes rap opera, wide variety of styles.
  8. Make competitions to find out who can read the song the fastest without pronunciation errors.
  9. Classes can compete among themselves to see which class can read the song the fastest, one student at a time.
  10. Students dramatize the song and create skits.
  11. Students change the verbs in the song.
  12. Students change the nouns in the song.

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Visit The Language Teacher’s Collaborate Wiki for the #LangChat Archive links as well as great resources from teachers around the world.


Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.


  • Sra. Spanglish

    Very helpful, thank you! I was feeling awful Thursday, & the actual chat transcript wasn’t doing much for me, but this I can do something with.

  • Spanish Student

    You are certainly good at turning a disjointed chat into a coherent resource. 🙂

  • Erica Fischer

    Sra. Spanglish, you are welcome. Spanish Student, it is as hard as you might imagine to reorganize 500 tweets! There are some amazing resources shared every week at #LangChat. It is a pleasure to share them with all of you in this format.

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