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Creating Awesome ESL Music Lessons for Kids [+ Free Resources!]

Injecting some music into your ESL lessons doesn’t require you to be Jack Black from School of Rock to make it epic.

However, if you want the class to be engaging it’s not about finding the latest chart-topper (or worse – some generic children’s song on YouTube) and hitting play.

You’ll find it much easier to plan your lessons & adapt to your students’ different needs with music resources that are specifically designed for young ESL learners.

Not only this, but if you’re adaptable to the different needs of your students you can make much more of an impact on their learning.
That’s exactly what we’ll be helping you with in this article: how to make sure you’re choosing the right ESL music resources and our top tips on how best to use them in different classroom situations.

Where to get Great Music Video Resources for your ESL Music Lesson

If you want to use more music in your classroom then you first need to choose that music, but what makes a great music resource for your students?

Here are some key criteria to help you decide what to use when choosing music for your classroom.


The songs that you use need to be age appropriate, meaning that there are no swear words or other inappropriate messaging that can be problematic for young students.

If you do plan on using pop songs make sure to double check the lyrics before using them in your classroom.

It’s also equally important to choose songs that aren’t too babyish for older kids too, so that means you should avoid nursery rhymes.
What eight year old want to be singing ba-ba black sheep?

Written in the proper range

Mind-blowing fact: most ESL songs for kids are actually written in a vocal range that kids can’t actually sing in!
Usually the key is far too high for children and if they can’t sing comfortably then they aren’t going to bother.


A big problem with music video resources for young ESL learners is that they don’t match our students’ high expectations when it comes to audio-visual content.

They use basic 2D animation that kids these days just don’t find engaging anymore. It’s important to find videos that have a higher production quality or your students will tune out with boredom.

Our main goal at ELT Songs is to provide these types of resources for your students, because we believe that kids learn best when they’re entertained.

You can see for yourself in the video below.

So now that you’re clear on what makes a good quality resource for your ESL music lesson let’s see how to use it to great effect for a few different scenarios.

Helping Shier Students come out of their shell

You might think that shier students will hate singing and dancing, but we’ve found that the shier students still love music – they just don’t feel too confident about singing.

To make your ESL music lessons more fun for these students you can take the ELT Songs approach and incorporate sign language or dance moves as an integral part of the song itself.

When we teach kids new vocabulary we make sure that each word has its own unique dance move to go along with it. We’ve found that this helps with two things;

  • It adds an extra layer of kinaesthetic learning so they’re more likely to remember the vocabulary item.
  • It helps shier students engage more when we sing the songs together as a class – maybe they don’t sing as confidently as the others, but they’ll do the dancing and we make sure that they know their contribution is valued. This can go a long way in helping them open up and speak when they feel ready.

Here’s an example:

Channel the enthusiasm of a high-energy class into something productive

On the other extreme we might have a class that is incredibly high energy and we need to get them to direct that energy into our lesson.

It’s easier to move with the madness than to be constantly swimming against the current. Using music and dancing can be a great way to get them to use their energy for learning.
Here are a couple of ideas to make your ESL music lesson more successful with high-energy classes.


You can read more about how to effectively use dance-offs in your classroom in this article. In a nutshell, you can get them to learn the dance-moves and lyrics of one of the ELT Songs and compete in two teams.

Each team has to remember all the dance-moves and the lyrics while busting some serious moves in the process!
Bolder classes love activities like these because for once their high energy is being rewarded and used for something productive!

Use songs and dance as a reward

Even though we have to harness their high energy in more physical activities, at some point they’ll have to sit down and do quieter desk work.

One way we can motivate them to complete the task is to reserve the final ten minutes of class to song and dance.

Ask your class what songs/dances they want to do when they finish their desk work.

Including them in the decision means they’ll be more motivated to get the reward at the end.

So, music and dance can become a nice way to get your rowdier children to behave because it engages them in an activity they’re naturally drawn to.

When you finish early with no back-up plan!

Has this ever happened to you?

Sometimes you can create the perfect ESL lesson plan but you still find that your class has finished 10 or 15 minutes before schedule.

Don’t worry, here’s a great last-minute activity to add onto your ESL music lesson to hold you over until the bell rings.

Vanishing Lyrics

  1. Choose a song for your class to listen to – if it’s relevant to the topic you’ve been learning that day then that’s best.
  2. Play it once so the students the gist.
  3. Play it again and write the lyrics on the whiteboard.
  4. Now find the karaoke version of the song.
  5. Erase some words and see if the kids can still sing it.
  6. Keep erasing words so it gets harder and harder.
  7. When you’ve erased the majority of the words ask for volunteers to write the words on the whiteboard while the class sings until the lyrics are complete again.

This is a great activity that helps them retain the vocabulary they’ve been learning and doesn’t require any preparation on your part.

Want full Lesson Plans, Music Video Resources & Printable Worksheets for FREE?

You can sign up and join the ELT gang and seriously reduce the time you spend on lesson planning and boost the amount of fun you have with your students!

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