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How to Use Music in a Foreign Language Classroom

Learning a new language can be complex. To make that more enjoyable, music is an awesome tool to use in the classroom or at home!. There are multiple ways to incorporate music into your language lessons.  Keep reading for six ways you can get started today!

The Classic Cloze

Cloze activities are a staple in world language classrooms. This is where the lyrics are provided with a small percentage of words missing from the student’s copy. The students listen to the song several times while trying to pick out those missing words and write them down. 

The student is challenged because to find the missing words they need to follow the song closely and have enough understanding to spell the missing word. Choose a song that is close to the student’s current listening comprehension level. While there may be parts of the song that are harder, the sections where the missing words are located need to be easy to follow. Ideally, they would be repeated within the song. 

To make this activity easier for your students, provide a word bank. (And if that’s too easy, you could add some detractors to the word bank.) For the least experienced students, you could provide word choices for each blank.

Lyrics Line-Up

This activity is much easier than a cloze activity and great for less experienced students.  The students cut the lines of the lyrics apart and put them in order as they listen. Choose a song close to their comprehension level because if they can pick out a few words from each line, they will be successful.

What I love about this activity is that it is fairly frustration-free for students, and they are willing to listen to the song over and over again so that they can get it right. Another plus is that this activity can be done in pairs, which is great when you need an interpersonal activity to vary your instruction. Personally, I feel that this activity is just as valuable as cloze activities and less frustrating for the students. However, it is a little bit of extra prep for the teachers due to the cutting and then keeping up with all those scraps of paper from class period to class period. 

Two Ways to Avoid the Mess with Lyrics Line-Up

  1. Have them number the lines of the lyrics instead of physically rearranging them.

  2. Offer the students a google document, or another online tool for dragging and dropping. Just be mindful that some students would immediately open another tab, google the lyrics, and turn it into a reading rather than listening task if they have access to their computers.


This one is my favorite! This activity requires sharing multiple songs with your students. I typically share one or two songs during each class period for a week or two to prepare. 

To prep for this activity, use a bingo card generator and create bingo cards that contain categories of words that are often used in music.  Some of the categories could be love, friendship, youth, and beauty. These categories should be in the target language, and you will need 24 of them if using a 5X5 card with a free space. 

Before sharing the first song, discuss the categories and give them examples of words that would fall into each one.  For example, words in the youth category could be young, younger, baby, child, and childhood. Students may even generate some of their own ideas. Then, play the first song as many times as you choose. 

When students hear a word that fits one of their categories, they write it on their card. You could have them color-code the songs so that it’s clear where each word came from. When I do this with my students, I encourage them to share with the group whenever they hear a word they can use. It can be a lot of fun to hear them shout out while they search their cards. Of course, when sharing they usually all end up with Bingo at the same time, so classes who have a more competitive vibe will prefer to keep their answers private until someone wins.


Not sure what categories to use? Use my Bingo cards! These were created using one because I’ve focused on vocabulary that is very common in French music.

Quote Contest

This is a fun game that can last a while! Share several songs with the class and give them links to review the lyrics.  Each student picks three songs, with a quote from each song. They then copy each quote to a separate scrap of paper, fold it, and put it in a jar at the front of the room. Each day, pull two or three quotes from the jar and have the class guess which song it came from. You could also have the students choose a favorite quote to display prominently in the classroom.

Memorize a Verse

After your students have many songs that they are familiar with, challenge them to memorize a verse of their choice. This is an excellent opportunity to get students to listen to a short section over and over, and to work on their pronunciation skills. You could even draw up a rubric and turn this into a grade.

For added fun (but definitely not for a grade), challenge students to pick one to four lines that they can actually repeat at the same speed and rhythm as the song. Those that enjoy singing can sing, but even just trying to say the words to the rhythm can often be quite a challenge. You could also host a contest having the spectators try to name the songs the lines come from.

Rate and Review

Students love to share their opinions. Plan to use music often, and provide an avenue for your students to rate, review, and rank the songs you share. Not only does it get them more engaged, but it can give you an idea as to what type of music is most popular with your group. You can continue to choose songs that they are happy to listen to again and again. 

3 Ways to Rate Music

  1. After each song that you share, add the name of the song and artist to a poster or shared google document. The students write on a scrap of paper their ranking from 1-10. Collect these, average them, and write the song’s score next to it. For each subsequent song, compare the ratings so that you always have a song in the “#1 Hit” position. You’ll find that, since students’ tastes vary, they will get very enthusiastic about debating the rankings of the songs.

  2. Create a jamboard with the names of several songs you have recently shared. Ask students to make a copy and then move the notes around to list the songs in order of their preference. They can then share what they like most about their favorite song: the lyrics, the music, or the music video?

  3. Provide the students with a chart to fill in. They add to it each time they hear a new song in class. They can record details such as:

  • Name of the song

  • Name of the artist

  • Rate song on a scale of 1-10

  • Rate music video 1-10

  • Likelihood that you would listen to another song by this artist 1-10

  • Level of difficulty of the lyrics 1-10

  • What you did or did not like about this song

When you’ve finished the unit or the grading period, have students circle which song was their favorite. You can also give the students space at the bottom to let you know if they have discovered any music on their own that they’d like for you to share with the class (after you preview).

Using music in a language classroom doesn’t have to be boring! Students enjoy playing games and I hope these ideas empower you to use music as often as possible with your language learners. If you have your own ideas to share, I’d love to hear about them! Looking for ideas for specific French songs to use, check out my previous music-themed posts!


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