Have you ever been in a rush to finish up a grammar lesson plan so that you can squeeze in all that curriculum content? Scoured the web for worksheets that make grammar content a little less dry for your students? It’s such a chore, right?
I hear you! In fact that’s why I’m writing today’s post. Making grammar fun is one of my main objectives when I teach, whether it’s one-on-one tutoring, a group of kids, or a university English class.
Why Students “Hate” Grammar
Why do you think students groan at the words “grammar lesson”?
Well, it’s quite simple:
Despite research telling us traditional teaching methods don’t work as well as communicative approaches, schools seem to be filled with grammar worksheets. At least here in Spain, English as a second language classes seem to be full of the same old worksheets, verb conjugations with little interactive content. Usually, parents of kids I teach want to ensure that that’s not my plan (don’t worry, it’s not!)
Actually, come to think of it, I remember copying down pages of notes of verb conjugations in my first year university French class in Canada, way back in 2002, as well.
So, how can we make grammar fun then? If you missed my post on 3 Ways To Teach Adjectives, you could check that out, too. Read on for specifics!
3 Ways To Make Grammar Fun
- It’s all about the games – Anyone who has met me knows I’m all about teaching games. They are so much fun, liven up your class, keep university lectures interactive and help students learn. My free speaking board game is in the printables library, so sign up at the end of this post to join. If you missed my post about Linguapolis, an awesome language game, be sure to check it out!
- Communicate (throw away those worksheets!) – So, in one of my English (ESL) classes this year, the curriculum guide tells us we have to hold four mandatory speaking sessions each semester. I tell students on the first day that we will be speaking every class, so they can feel more confident speaking their second language.
- Teach with Songs! – Of course, this wouldn’t be a post about teaching with songs if I didn’t love it. Read on for more details!
Why I Teach With Songs: An Avril Lavigne Lesson Plan
I love teaching with songs, something quite recent in my repertoire. Now, don’t get me wrong, the idea has been around for ages and I had been advised to do so before, but it didn’t seem like a good fit for me. Mostly, I was afraid that not being able to sing would ruin it for kids, and that adults might find the overall idea a bit juvenile.
That’s what I thought.
Until I tried it last year.
A teacher friend recommended using Beyonce’s If I Were A Boy to teach conditional tense and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. First, I used it with a 12 year old private tutoring student, and then I adapted it for my first year university ESL class. They loved it! One Stop English has some more ideas on teaching grammar concepts such as modals, which is where I got the idea to use an Avril Lavigne song.
Teaching modals using the Skater Boy song was a real hit with my university class. My (now 13 year old) private student loved it, too. You’d be surprised how much a short activity with a song can liven up your class!
Last year, I saw the movie La La Land and loved it so much that I made a lesson plan from one of their songs.
ALL THREE of these lesson plans are available FREE in my printables library!
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So, there are three ways I use songs to teach English:
3 Ways To Use Songs In Class
Gap Fill Activities
Simply find the lyrics on Google Lyrics, and create a worksheet omitting difficult vocabulary words or grammar words you want to teach. Have students fill in the blanks as they listen. This works really well for phrasal verbs, expressions and slang.
Grammar and Vocab Search
Rather than using a gap-fill, have advanced students listen for the words without the guidance of the lyrics. To make it easier, you can provide them with the lyrics and have them circle words that relate to the grammatical form or vocabulary concept you are teaching.
Extension Activities – Find Your Own Song
While it’s great to use songs you like, having students choose their own songs is even better! Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough class time to try this one out for the modals activities (we lost a lot of class time due to political events here in Barcelona!). However, my plan was to have students bring songs to class, find the phrasal verbs and expressions, and share what they learned with their classmates.
How do you use songs in your class? Do you have other grammar teaching tips you’d like to share with us? Let us all know in the comments below and help the whole community of teachers grow. I read and respond to every comment 🙂
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post is one I took about a week ago on a tour of the old town in Zagreb, Croatia
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For more advanced students, I use songs to teach grammar implicitely without naming the grammar form.
I choose a song that uses the targeted grammar form many times and in most of then I ask them to invent another verse to the song and hope they use the grammar form correctly.View Comment
I have the students red their verse and then we discuss as a group how well the different verses match the song’s grammaticaly. Hopefully the targeted grammar form will come up in the discussion.
Wow, Chantale – that sounds great! Do you find students have fun inventing a new verse? What age students do you do this with? Thanks for sharing 🙂View Comment