Call for Contributions: New Ways in Teaching With Music

TESOL Press seeks contributors for a book on how to use music in the ESL/EFL classroom.

Deadline: June 30, 2016

If you would like your contribution to be considered, please follow the guidelines below and make your timely submission to co-editors Jean Arnold and Emily Herrick at

Scope and Purpose

New Ways in Teaching with Music (NWTM) will be a collection of activities and exercises contributed by teachers who have used them in their teaching in ESL and EFL higher-ed or IEP classrooms around the world. Music is a new focal area for the popular New Ways series, and TESOL Press is seeking to publish successful, fresh, and innovative methods of using music to enhance English language learning in the following areas:
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing
  • Grammar
  • Cultural Exploration
  • CALL


Contributors may explore options for using music in teaching ESL or EFL to adult or young adult students in an academic setting.


This series offers at-a-glance, simple lesson plans. All contributions should follow the format below as closely as possible:


400–800 words

Section Parts

  1. Title
  2. Contributor name
  3. Levels (beginning, high beginning, intermediate, advanced, etc.) for which the lesson is most appropriate
  4. Aims of lesson (e.g. focusing on improving note-taking skills or teaching about the country’s culture)
  5. Class time
  6. Preparation time
  7. Resources needed
  8. Procedure
  9. Rationale (e.g. concepts / theories / pedagogical principles / research findings which support this teaching activity)
  10. Caveats and Options (e.g. suggestions on how the activity may be altered, shortened or expanded to meet different contexts)
  11. References, Further Reading, or Resources
  12. Appendix (e.g. sample handout for the lesson)
Please indicate which of the areas listed above your contribution best fits, e.g., listening, speaking, reading, etc.

Acceptance Process

Contributions should follow the format of the series as closely as possible and use APA formatting and referencing guidelines. See ‘Sample contribution’ below. Submissions should be meticulously reviewed for clarity and accuracy by the contributor before submitting. All contributions will be vetted by the editors and given a final review by the TESOL Book Publications Committee; there will be no automatic acceptance.


TESOL asks all contributors to assign their copyright to the association. The author(s) will be asked to sign a contract during the production cycle for the volume. Please do not submit work that has been previously published, is currently under consideration elsewhere, or already under contract, and do not submit work for which you wish to retain copyright. All contributors will be given a TESOL Press permissions form to use and are responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use previously published material. Please note that copyright permission for song lyrics must be obtained.

Sample Contribution

Title: The Back Story

Contributor Name: Emily Herrick

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Aims of lesson: Develop narrative writing and critical thinking skills; help students develop an understanding of the concept of "contextualizing" a piece of writing 

Class Time: Approximately one hour

Preparation Time: 15-30 minutes

Resources needed: Audio recording of any song; optionally an example of a back story you wrote about the song, and a transcript of the lyrics. Nearly any popular song can serve as a writing prompt for students to create a narrative "back story."

1. Select an audio recording of a popular song and write a short "back story" about the song that you can share with the class. 

2. Play the song in class and discuss the meaning of the lyrics.  You may want to give students a copy of the lyrics or display them for the class. 

3. Provide students with an example of a short "back story" using the story you created.  Explain that the back story could be something about the life of the songwriter, or it could be a story about the people mentioned in the song.  For example, if you played Meghan Trainor's 2015 hit, "All About That Bass," students could write a story about the songwriter's experience with weight, about why the mama in the song advises her daughter, or even research issues of obesity and self image.

4. Give students 15–20 minutes to write their own back story.

5. Students can share their stories in small groups or with the class.

Rationale: All writing grows out of a context or a background that helps form the interpretation of the text. By using clues in the lyrics of a song as a starting point, students can make imaginative inferences about the background of the song as they write a short creative narrative which provides a context.

Caveats and Options: Variations on this activity are nearly limitless as the text they create can be used as a draft for further writing practice. Instead of an example written by the teacher, a class discussion can serve as an effective method of introducing the concept of a back story. If you would like to incorporate more speaking and listening practice, or help students develop collaborative writing skills, students could write their back stories in pairs or groups. Finally, if available, you could provide students with the "real" back story, an explanation from the songwriter about the origins of the song.

Area: Writing