Having music playing in the background during lessons can be very successful in most contexts, though not all cultures will be happy with this, of course.

Music is played while students work in groups discussing, planning or doing language exercises. I choose instrumental music or songs sung in a language that the students do not know, so that they aren’t distracted by the words.

  • The music helps create a relaxed atmosphere
  • Often when students are asked to speak together in English, they feel shy about speaking up. With music playing they need to raise their voice to be heard by their partner(s)
  • If groups of students are planning or competing, they do not want to be heard by other groups, so the music creates a barrier of privacy
  • Teachers must recognise what is positive noise and what levels of noise are unacceptable in the classroom
  • If students do not like the music I choose, I welcome their contributions of background music, increasing their sense of ownership in the lessons

Other ideas for using songs in classs

Teenagers: Songs 2: Music as a stimulus for speaking

Teenagers: Songs 3: Music as a stimulus for writing

Teenagers: Songs 4: Activities

Teenagers: Songs 5: Discussion and presentation

Teenagers: Songs 6: Songs and grammar