Number one for English language teachers

Teenagers: Songs 3: Music as a stimulus for writing

Type: Reference material

A great way to use music in a writing activity.

This is another writing activity. I learnt it from a fabulous colleague in Greece, Camilla Ralls, (most of our best classroom ideas are borrowed or stolen from colleagues!) 

  • Choose four very different pieces of instrumental music (e.g. some ragtime, a gentle piece of classical music, a stirring tango and a march or brass band)

  • Give each student four pieces of paper and tell them NOT to write their names or which piece of music they are listening to on them

  • Play each piece of music separately and ask students to write what they see/feel on the pieces of paper as they listen. They do not need to write in sentences – single words are fine, or even pictures are a possible response

  • Give the students enough time to listen, respond and write

  • Pin up all the pieces of paper on the class walls and ask students to walk around reading them and decide which piece of music inspired which descriptions

  • Check if they were right – though it is NOT a test – it’s just interesting

  • In pairs students choose one description that they like – it can be written by one of them, but not necessarily

  • In pairs they use that as a basis to write a short story or descriptive piece of writing – this time ensuring that they also focus on grammatical correctness

  • Writing in pairs helps maintain interest and students can share knowledge about vocabulary, grammar and their ideas, and takes the stress out of writing. Also if the students are writing in class, you can monitor and help them 

Other ideas for using songs in classs

Teenagers: Songs 1: Music in the background

Teenagers: Songs 2: Music as a stimulus for speaking

Teenagers: Songs 4: Activities

Teenagers: Songs 5: Discussion and presentation

Teenagers: Songs 6: Songs and grammar

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