British band The Police were one of the biggest British bands from the 1980's. In probably their biggest hit Every Breath You Take, the singer talks about how he'll be watching his girlfriend's each move because he has trust issues and he is jealous. It's actually quite a dark song.

Your students will be doing a verb card matching activity in this fun and engaging ESL song lesson (the printable verb cards are in the free lesson plan found on this page). This is super good for their listening and to tune their ear to the song. Following on as an extention, the students will be making their own stanza to perform (and share on social media if they are brave enough!) This is also a perfect lesson to study simple tense verbs in a super cool way. The lesson plan is available as a free PDF download below.

Buy Every Breath You Take mp3 single right here - you'll be helping us out

What to Do

Cut out and laminate all of the printable verb cards before class. Shuffle up the printable verb cards before you give them out.

Give one set of verb cards to each group and let the students lay out the cards on the desk or on the floor. Tell the class that you are going to play the song to them three times, but the first two times, they won’t be able to read the lyrics.
Play the song once and allow the students to try to put the verb cards in the order that they hear them in the song. Play the song again and to give them another chance to get them into the correct order.
After each group has heard the song twice, ask the class to tell you the order that the verbs came in. Give out the lyrics sheet to each group and play the song a third and final time so that students can check their answers.
Follow-up activities:
- Groups of students have to put the cards in order as they listen to the song
- Students have to say all of the verbs from memory
- Spelling test/spelling bee competition
- Stick the cards on the wall and the students have to run and touch the cards as you read them out or as they listen to them in the song
- Mime games
- Make flashcards of the verbs and play games with these flashcards
- Students write a their own new verse for the song

by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen
Published in Song lessons
Runaway Train is about children who run away or go missing. It is a topic for mature-minded, intermediate-level or advanced-level students. This is a delicate topic, but certainly worthwhile and will offer your students something very different from what they've studied at their school or in any language schools.

Download Runaway Train by Soul Asylum immediately here from Amazon - you'll be helping this website too.


Using Runaway Train In Class
Put the students into pairs and hand-out the song lyrics. Play the song and let the students read the lyrics and they listen. At the end of the song, ask the students to try to guess what the song is about. To put them in the right direction, tell them that the song isn‟t about a train!
After a few minutes, ask the students for feedback and jot some of their ideas on the board. After you have collected many ideas, thank them for the good ideas and let them know that you will tell them what the song is about a bit later on in the class (telling them now will ruin the first activity!)

Task 1
Tell the class that Runaway Train really took the world by storm and that there were many opinions to what the song was really about. Hand-out some of these opinions and ask the students to read them. Feel free to focus on any interesting language from the blogs about the song.
When the students have finished reading the blogs, ask them to write their own mini-blog about what they think the song is about...

Optional Task

In America, the faces of missing children have been put on milk cartons since the 1970's. Give your students some cultural information and ask them to get creative by bringing to class some empty milk or yoghurt cartons and asking them to make their own imaginary appeal in English.

Lesson by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen

Published in Song lessons
Pink Floyd have sold more albums than any other band...The Beatles included! Time was one of the major hits on the 70's masterpiece Darkside of the Moon.

Time talks about how time passes us by, and before we know it we are old and haven't done the things in our lives that we could have done had we spent the hours, days, weeks and months better.

This ESL song lesson is good for intermediate and a

bove teen and adult students. In this lesson your students will learn phrases we use in English speaking countries to talk about time. Tolling, ticking away, starting gun, kicking around, wasting away, moments...

Don't have Time by Pink Floyd in your collection but want to teach this lesson? Click here to download the song right now - you'll be helping us to grow.

Published in Song lessons
Don't Speak by No Doubt has been predominantly used to teach the present continuous tense in the past; however I decided to have a bit of fun with it! I got the idea from the name of the song – “Don’t speak!”
I thought how fun it would be to cut the song lyrics up into strips and have the students mime to each other to sort out the order. It worked marvelously!

Want to try this ESL song class tomorrow and need the song? No problem - click here to download the song. You'll be helping this site to grow too.

What to Do in Class
Divide the class up into a number of teams. You should have between 3-6 students on a team. Give each team the song strips (already cut up by you before class.) Give one student from each team the entire song lyrics sheet (opposite). They are not allowed to show this sheet to their team.
Give the students a little time to arrange their song strips and to ask you the meaning of any tricky words. At your signal, each team member who has the full lyrics must mime the song to the rest of their team, so that they can put the sentence strips in the correct order. The first team to get the entire song in the correct order wins! Play the song at the end so that students can check if they have put the sentences in the correct order.
This is a great activity, which will really liven up the classroom. Your students are sure to go home with smiles on their faces and some fantastic new language!


Lesson written by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen
Published in Song lessons
This is a discussion based ESL lesson about homelessness, the reasons behind homelessness and what we can do as a society to solve the problem. It is a topic that your students are bound to be interested in and it serves as a great platform for your students to express themselves. Often English students, especially in China, think that the west is super rich and that everyone has money. This is an important lesson to teach them that this isn't true whatsoever. Streets of London was written and written and performed by Ralph McTell

Download The Streets of London by Ralph McTell here - you'll be helping too

How to Teach this Class
As a warmer, play hangman with the students. After the mystery word has been revealed (homelessness), ask your students what it means. From their answers, develop a small discussion about homelessness. The main discussion comes later, after listening to the song.
Tell the students that they are going to listen to a song about homelessness. The people in the song don’t want to be homeless and they are sad and lonely. The students should work in pairs to fill in the missing words. Play the song twice and then go through the answers at the end.
Following the song, ask your students to discuss in their pairs the following questions. Get feedback from the pairs just as you hear the discussions begin to die down (never wait too long, so that there is silence!)
1. Why is the man reading yesterday's newspaper?
2. What does it mean by "carrying her home" in two bags?
3. Why do you think the man makes each cup of tea last an hour?
4. What do the faded medal ribbons represent?
5. Why does the world not care about the elderly hero?
After pairs have given you feedback, you can use the conversation questions or go your own way with the lesson.
by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in Song lessons
David Bowie, also known as Ziggy Stardust, is one of the mos iconic and influential music stars of the 20th Century. After his death in December 2015, millions around the world looked back at the monumentous hits and moments in his life. Space Oddity was written in 1969, the same year as the moon landing. In this wonderful ESL speaking lesson, students must work in teams to decide what things they would use to survive on the moon!

Download Space Oddity for this ESL song lesson here - you'll be supporting this site in doing so.

What to Do in Class

Setting Context - Draw a basic picture of the moon on the board or show a picture. Ask the students what they know about the moon. Answers could include it’s big, white, a sphere, it goes round the earth, it has no (or very little) oxygen, gravity is weaker (so things weigh less). Feed the students any of the specific vocabulary they need to describe these things as and when they need it. Move the topic onto the moon landing.
- What they know about the moon landing?
- When did it occur? (1969).
- What was the name of the mission? (Apollo 11)
- Who was the first man to walk on the moon? (Neil Armstrong)

Listening to Space Oddity 
Tell the class that they’re going to listen to a song about space travel, and that it was released in 1969, to coincide with the launch of the Apollo 11 mission. Give the students the lyrics sheet and when they listen to the song, tell them to underline any words they don’t know.
Next, in pairs or small groups, they have two tasks;
1. Work out the meaning of any words they don’t know from the context. Be ready with the dictionary just in case there’re any problems!
2. Work out the story of the song – what happens in each verse. Is it positive about space travel or not? Is it realistic?

Discussion Activity– Moon Survival
Tell the students that they’ve travelled to the moon, but there is a problem; they landed 200km away from the moon base, and their spaceship is now broken. They must choose which items to take from their ship when they walk to the base. They must be careful! If your ESL students they choose the wrong things, they may die!
Divide the class into small groups for the discussion. Give each group the ‘Item List’ and ask them to rank the items in order of importance. Go through the vocabulary to make sure the students understand. Monitor, provide hints to weaker groups and play devil’s advocate if you have to.
After a suitable amount of time, swap the papers round so different groups can mark each other’s work. Talk through the answers, using the board to help you establish the ranking, and talk through the reasoning behind the choices. The ranking of the list comes from NASA’s website, so it’s pretty authoritative!

Lesson written by David Weller

David Weller

David Weller is from the UK and is an ELT veteran with both an MA in TESOL and a DELTA (distinction). He is a former Area Operations Manager with EF Education First in China, and now works for EF in the UK, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can follow David on his excellent TEFL blog here.
Published in Song lessons
Students will listen to a song about leaving home and saying goodbye. They will then write a letter to one of the people in the song to practice using the past and present voices. Finally, there are some discussion questions about being away from home. Seasons in the Sun was sung by Westlife, a 1990's Irish boyband. 

Want to teach this ESL song lesson but need the song? No worries, click here! You'll be supporting this site to grow also.

Tell students they’re going to listen to a song about a man who is saying goodbye to some people. We don’t know why he is saying goodbye, but it is either because he is about to die, or is going to war.
Play Seasons in the Sun and ask students just to listen for which three people he addresses the song to. This will allow students the chance to simply listen to the song and enjoy it, without having to listen for too much information.
Tip! When using songs in class that are a little bit difficult for your students gradually ask them questions about the song.
Task 1
Play the song a second and third time, and have students answer the questions for task 1.
Task 2
Hand out the lyrics and check answers to task 1.
Next, get students to imagine they are the person saying goodbye in the song. They are all in the army (brainstorm different jobs: soldier, cook, engineer etc.) and have been stationed far from home. Get them to write a letter back home to one of the people in the song.
This is a good practice of using the past voice (talking about their relationship) and the present voice (to describe their current living situation).
Task 3
Put students in small groups or pairs and have them discuss some of the questions. Encourage them to choose any question they like. They don’t have to answer the questions in the order on the sheet.
Tip! Allowing them to choose their questions makes the task more personal and interesting. It gives them ownership of the learning.

by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council. Phil is currently writing a kids book called The Funky Bubble Box

Published in Song lessons
Cats in the Cradle was written by Harry Chaplin after his wife warned him that he was missing his children growing up because he was always busy. Its a song about a dad who was always walking and his son wanted to play with his dad. As the years quickly went by, the father then wanted a better relationship with his son, but his son is now grown up and too busy to call his dad. He's left it too late. The song was later covered by Ugly Kid Joe, the American rock band and they did a great job.

Want to teach this ESL song lesson but don't have Cats in the Cradle by Ugly Kid Joe? No worries, click here. You'll be helping to maintain this site too.


1. Play the song and ask your students to listen for who the song is about and anything else they hear
2. Play it a second time and ask what four stages of life are referred to in the song
Answers – a father and his son; baby’s birth and first steps (infancy), child turning 10 (childhood), child returning from college (late teens), and then becoming a man himself (adulthood)
3. Hand out the lyrics, go through any new language, and answer these more questions:
Why did he miss his son’s birth and first steps? (answer – there were planes to catch and bills to pay, i.e. he was away on business)
What did his son want to do with his dad when he was ten? (answer – play ball, learn to throw)
What did his son want to do instead of sitting and talking with his dad after coming back from college? (answer – borrow the car keys)
Why is his son too busy to talk to his dad at the end of the song? (answer – his new job’s a hassle and his kids have the flu)
What is the message of the song? (accept all suitable answers – e.g. spending time with your kids is very important)
4. Hand out discussion questions
Description: a song about parenting followed by discussion questions
Time: 30 minutes
Level: Low-Intermediate and higher
Keywords: parenting, stages of life, childhood, discussion

1 What are some of the things that your parents did that you would never do?
2 What do you think are some of the most difficult problems faced by parents?
3 How should you reward children for the good things they do?
4 Are all couples who can have children qualified enough for being parents?
5 Would you allow your child to pierce their body or get a tattoo?
6 What are some of the things you would not allow your child to do?
7 Should a good mother give up her job to stay at home to look after her children? Is it okay for a father to stay at home instead of the mother?
8 Do you think it is okay for children to call their parents by their first names?
9 Do you think there should be a maximum age for parents to have a new child?
10 Should children work?
11 Should parents read to their children? Why or why not?

Lesson written by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council. Phil is also writing a kids craft activity book called The Funky Bubble Box!
Published in Song lessons
Dry Your Eyes by The Streets is a song about a guy who has just broken up with his girlfriend. He feels really sad and cut up by the breakup and wants to get back with her, but she doesn't feel the same way. Everyone has been hurt at one time in their lives by a breakup and will be able to emphasize with this song. It's good to use with Intermediate and above ESL students.

Need Dry Your Eyes mp3 for this ESL song lesson? Click here - you'll be supporting us to keep going as well.

Please note this song has two swear words (f*ck x2). You can find a clean version of this song online and alter the lyrics above.

What to Do in Class
1. Play the song once and ask the students to tell you what the song is about. It is about a man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, and he is heartbroken. He doesn’t want it to be over.
2. Hand out lyrics and go through them together discussing what they mean.

3. The yellow highlights are the details of what he and she did just after she told him it was over

4. The blue highlights are what he said to her at the same time  The green highlights are what he feels about the break up. The choruses describe his friend’s advice to him later on
5. There’s a lot of lyrics here, but hopefully your students’ level will be high enough that you don’t need to spend a lot of time going over new language. 10 to 15 minutes should be ideal.
6. Play the song again so they can listen to it and read along. Students find listening to a song after they’ve learned the lyrics very motivating tool
7. Then go on to the activity
1. Put students in pairs.
2. If they are a boy and a girl pair get them to reenact the break-up: they obviously will use what is in the song, but tell them they should add to it, starting with the girl telling him it’s over. They can swap roles if they like, with the girl having been dumped by the boy.
3. If they are a boy and a boy pair get them to reenact the conversation between the boy in the song and his friend following the break-up: they will use the words in the chorus, but also need to add to it with the boy telling his friend about the break-up
4. If they are a girl and a girl pair, get them to swap roles with the men in the song: so, the girl has been dumped and his telling her girl friend about it, who then gives her advice. See number 3.
This is a great activity for students to use real English that is provided in the song, and to learn and reinforce language that describes action
5. Give them 25-30 minutes to prepare.
6. Get each pair to perform their dialogue to the class. Not suitable for large classes, because there will be too many pairs.
Description: a song about a break-up with a dialogue activity
Time: 60 minutes
Level: Intermediate and higher
Keywords: love, relationships, dialogue, conversation, action verbs, present continuous

by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council.
Published in Song lessons
The Hokey Cokey is well-known in English speaking countries. Kids join hands in a circle chanting the words and dancing along. It is a very catchy song with an accompanying dance – a great song for young children to practice body parts.

Want to use this song in class? Download the Hokey Cokey right here. You'll be helping us also.

Activity 1 – Label a Body

Before the class, make and cut out copies of the body parts word sheet in the free PDF lesson plan for each group of 3 students. Follow these instructions:

- Review the names of body parts (arm, leg, hand, foot, head, ear, eye, nose, mouth) and left & right
- Hand out the cut up body parts to each group. You need to put double-sided tape on the back of each body part.
- Each group of three has to choose one student in their group and label his or her body using the body parts. This is why you need to put double-sided tape on the back of the strips of paper.
- It’s a race to see which group can finish first.
- Kids love this as it’s very interactive and a bit silly, and don’t
be surprised after they finish if they then try and label you!

Note: bring your camera along for this class as you will capture some great photos!
Activity 2 – Song and Dance
You’ll need to learn the song first and the dance movements that go with it. In the lesson plan in the link below you’ll find the dance moves and words courtesy of
Tips for teaching this to kids!

For young kids they tend to learn songs better if there are movements to accompany it; that’s why songs & dance work so well.
- Teach kids the movements first. Sing the song to them and demonstrate the movements (see youtube video if you don’t know them). You can just do one verse to start, and add in extra verses (and body parts) as kids get more confident. Sing a few times in the first class to them, but don’t expect them to sing. Just make sure they are trying to dance with you.

In subsequent classes you can spend a few minutes reviewing the song. This works well at waking students up at any time during the class. Eventually, students out of fun and natural spontaneity will try and join in with the singing themselves. So, don’t sing it too fast to begin with. Sing it slow enough so they can hear the words (the main ones at least).

After they have started to sing it themselves, then you can teach them the words, as they will then be more receptive to learning them. Basically, don’t rush it and keep it fun. Finally, as they’ve mastered the song and all the movements, you can then start to get them to sing it quicker and quicker. It will then become manic, but boisterous fun.

by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council.
Published in Song lessons
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