This website uses cookies. A cookie is a small piece of code that gives your computer a unique identity, but it does not contain any information that allows us to identify you personally. For more information on how TESOL International Association uses cookies, please read our privacy policy. Most browsers automatically accept cookies, but if you prefer, you can opt out by changing your browser settings.

TESOL Connections (April 2011)

by User Not Found | 11/08/2011


  • Lesson Plan: Music Activities for the K–12 Crowd, by Sarah Sahr

  • Free article from March 2011 TESOL Journal:

    Student Voices: Reflection on my EFL Experiences, by Ramesh Kumar Pokharel

    Association News

  • Registration now open for TESOL Advocacy Day: June 6–7, 2011

  • TESOL Executive Director Rosa Aronson and recent Board member

    Yilin Sun radio interview about adult ESL

  • TESOL Quarterly Call for Abstracts: Novice Professionals in TESOL

  • Upcoming TESOL Education Programs:

  • Start PP 100 on April 25 and finish the program this year in October!

  • TESOL Conference on Putting Research into Practice in Qatar - Call for Proposals

    Deadline Extended to May 1

  • Register for the 2011 TESOL Academy, June 24–25

    at the University of Virginia, Falls Church, Virginia

  • Sign up for TESOL virtual seminars on teaching large classes, K-12 ESL,

    technology tools, and family literacy

  • Preorder these new TESOL books by April 15 and get 50% off!

  • Pragmatics: Teaching Natural Conversation

  • TESOL Technology Standards

  • Check out convention presentations on the 2011 TESOL Convention SlideShare page!

  • TESOL Board approves new recommendations for the reauthorization

    of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act


  • TRC Featured Resource: 1,500+ ESL/EFL Conversations on Different Topics
  • Helping Students Cope with Global Disasters
  • What Strategies Exist to Reduce the Misidentification of ELLs

    as Students with Disabilities?

  • Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners

    TESOL Connections Archives (members only)

    To submit a feature article to TC, e-mail your submission to

    To advertise in TC, e-mail

  • Lesson Plan:

    Music Activities for the K–12 Crowd

    by Sarah Sahr

    download the PDF

    Below there are several classroom activities using music. The list ranges from young learners to older learners, which does not necessarily denote proficiency level. Some of the activities for younger students are appropriate for advanced English language learners while some of the activities for older students are appropriate for beginning ELLs. Please manipulate the activities to meet the needs of your students. Enjoy!


    Who’s Got the Flashcard?

    Grade: Early elementary

    Level: Upper beginner

    This is a hybrid of the games hot potato and musical chairs. Students stand in a circle, facing in, with their hands behind their backs. The teacher shows the class a flashcard (if you are studying animals, use a picture of an animal; studying food, use food, etc.) and elicits the name of the item on the card. After all students know what the item is, have one child stands in the middle of the circle, eyes closed. Have music ready to play (mp3, CD, video, etc).

    Explain that when you play the music, the students pass the flashcard around the circle behind their backs. When the music stops, they stop, and the student with the flashcard holds it hidden behind his or her back, out of sight of the student in the center. The student in the center has three chances to find out who has the flashcard by asking:

    Have you got the cat? Or Do you have the cat?

    The proper response would be:

    Yes, I have / No, I haven’t. Or Yes, I do / No, I don’t.

    Rotate the middle student until all students have a chance to be in the middle and use a different flashcard each time.


    For 100th Day (A little late for this year but…):

    Grade: Early elementary

    Level: Upper beginner

    Make musical instruments

    Have each child bring in a cardboard toilet paper tube. Have them securely tape one end closed (using strong tape) and fill it with 100 dry beans. Close the other end with paper and secure paper with tape. The students have made a 100s shaker. Using the shakers, sing the 100th Day Song.

    100th Day Song (to the tune Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay)

    It is the 100th day

    So shout hip-hip hooray!

    We will count, eat, and play,

    On the 100th day!

    We count by 5s and 10s

    Together with our friends.

    Join in the fun and say,

    Hooray for 100th day!


    Can/Can’t Chants

    Grade: Late elementary

    Level: Intermediate

    The words can and can’t often cause pronunciation problems with English language learners. For example:

    • Length of vowel /kæn; unstressed kən/ or /kænt, kɑnt/
    • Aspirated /t/

    I can go. (reduced and not reduced)

    I can’t read your handwriting.

    I can’t allow you to go today.

    Chanting can help students pronounce the appropriate vowel with the appropriate word:

    I Can’t Do It

    I can’t do it.

    I can’t do it.

    Yes, you can.

    Yes, you can.

    I can’t do it.

    Yes, you can.

    You can do it.

    You can do it.

    I can’t do it.

    Yes, you can.

    You can do it.

    You can do it.

    No, I can’t.

    Yes, you can.

    No, I can’t.

    Yes, you can.

    I can’t do it.

    Yes, you can.

    You can do it.

    You can do it.

    Can’t Stay, Gotta Go

    Can’t Stay, Gotta Go

    Can’t Stay, Gotta Go

    Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!

    Can’t stay.


    Gotta go, can’t wait.

    You’re late.

    Gotta go, can’t wait.

    Hurry up! You’re late.

    Gotta run.

    Have fun.

    Can’t wait.

    You’re late.

    Gotta go, can’t stay

    Gotta go!

    Teaching note: In the second chant, use of the word “gotta” is a great example of elision, the omission of sound(s) in spoken English. “Gotta” is a very informal way to say “got to” which is also very informal in most conversational settings. However, for the sake of the above chant, it’s just fun to say.


    Rhyming Exercises

    Below are the lyrics for two songs, broken into phrases; the following activity can be done with different ages and levels—choose the appropriate song for your age group and level. Divide the class into groups of three to five students. Give each group an envelope with the phrases cut into strips and mixed up. The groups have to arrange the strips in order, using the rhyming words as clues. You might want to give the students the first and last phrases so they know where to start.

    Grade: Elementary

    Level: Upper intermediate to advanced (students must be able to read)

    Hush, Little Baby,” a traditional American lullaby (in so far as mockingbirds are thought to have come from the North American continent):

    Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,

    Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

    And if that mockingbird don't sing,

    Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

    And if that diamond ring turn brass,

    Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass.

    And if that looking glass gets broke,

    Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat.

    And if that billy goat don't pull,

    Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull.

    And if that cart and bull turn over,

    Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

    And if that dog named Rover won't bark.

    Papa's gonna to buy you and horse and cart.

    And if that horse and cart fall down,

    Well you'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

    Use this link for students to self-check and, if you’d like, sing the nursery rhyme as a class.

    Grade: Secondary

    Level: Upper intermediate to advanced

    “Sk8ter Boi,” by Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne, is a more teenage-friendly song. This exercise can be done with any popular song that has good rhyming patters. Consider singers and groups such as U2, Michael Jackson, or the Jonas Brothers….

    "Sk8er Boi"

    He was a boy, she was a girl

    She calls up her friends, they already know

    Can I make it any more obvious?

    And they've all got tickets to see his show

    He was a punk, and she did ballet

    She tags along and stands in the crowd

    What more can I say?

    Looks up at the man that she turned down

    He wanted her, she'd never tell

    He was a sk8ter boy, she said ”See ya later boy”

    Secretly she wanted him as well

    He wasn't good enough for her

    But all of her friends stuck up their nose.

    Now he's a superstar

    And they had a problem with his baggy clothes.

    Slammin’ on his guitar

    Does your pretty face see what he's worth?

    He was a sk8ter boy, she said “See ya later boy”

    He wasn't good enough for her.

    Sorry girl, but you missed out

    She had a pretty face

    Well, tough luck that boy's mine now

    But her head was up in space

    We are more than just good friends

    She needed to come back down to earth.

    This is how the story ends

    Five years from now, she sits at home

    Feeding the baby, she's all alone.

    She turns on TV, guess who she sees

    Sk8ter boy rockin’ up MTV.

    Too bad that you couldn't see, see the man that boy could be

    There is more than meets the eye, I see the soul that is inside

    He's just a boy and I'm just a girl

    Can I make it any more obvious?

    We are in love, haven’t you heard

    How we rock each other's world?

    I’m with the sk8er boi, I said, “See ya later boy”

    I'll be backstage after the show.

    I'll be at a studio, singing the song we wrote about a girl you used to know

    I’m with the sk8er boi, I said, “See ya later boy”

    I'll be backstage after the show.

    I'll be at a studio, singing the song we wrote about a girl you used to know

    Lyrics from

    Places for students to self check:

    Download the song

    The lyrics* with the song

    The video with an advertisement

    *Note that the lyrics provided may differ slightly from the actual song.

    There's More!

    Download the rest of the activities, along with music resources, here.

    Sarah welcomes feedback and suggestions. E-mail her at

    Sarah Sahr works at TESOL and has her Masters in ESL administration. She has managed a school in Vietnam, trained teachers in South Korea, implemented school reform in Qatar, run a circus train classroom for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and taught 8th grade writing in Maryland. Prior to all that, Sarah was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. She is also a certified ashtanga yoga instructor and has managed an eco-lodge in Chugchilan, Ecuador.


    This article is from Volume 2, Issue 1 of TESOL Journal

    March 2011

    Free Article:

    Student Voices:

    Reflection on My EFL Experiences

    By Ramesh Kumar Pokharel

    download the PDF

    Learning a foreign language is like exploring a foreign land; one will be directionless and may be lost in the exploration as one makes efforts to learn foreign language. It is not easy to learn or teach foreign language. However, an appropriate teaching approach or technique can facilitate learning of foreign language, and, thus, it can be taught or learned comfortably if good and effective skills are applied. Here, I will make an attempt to reflect on my experiences as a second language learner about how the language was taught and how I would teach differently if I were in the position of teacher in that context.

    I learned English as a foreign language, or academic language. I began learning English with the alphabets in Grade 4. English was taught extensively but not intensively from Grade 4 to undergraduate level as a compulsory subject, resulting in poor outcomes. Research has shown that intensive learning or teaching of any language, rather, has better impact on learning. At school, learning or teaching English language mainly concentrated on teaching vocabulary and grammar

    rules with special emphasis on prescriptive grammar. Later on at higher secondary school anduniversity-level courses, it was believed that language learning did not only involve learning vocabulary and grammar rules; it was associated with culture that gets reflected in literature. So literary texts were much focused on teaching English language. But still the traditional and discarded approach of the grammar translation method was used in teaching language and literature instead of oral structural method.

    Learning a language effectively, in fact, involves learning four language skills simultaneously (speaking, writing, reading, and listening), and it can be sustainable and long-lasting only if the four language skills are learned/taught in balance. But we did not have the environment for learning these language skills; there was no opportunity for speaking and listening at all, and some writing and reading would be done only limitedly. For writing, some exercises would be done from the textbooks, and no free or creative writing was encouraged. Though reading was limited to reading textbooks only, there was little more focus on writing and reading than in speaking and listening.

    The teachers would focus on rote learning: We would learn the grammar rules and vocabulary by heart without knowing how the words are used in context. I remember I could do grammar exercise correctly, but still I had problems writing an essay on my own. Whether rote learning is a good or bad thing I don’t know, but I felt like learning a passage or a story or a poem by heart sometimes helped me understand the content, vocabulary, and grammatical structure of the sentences used in the context that definitely enabled me to reproduce similar expression in my writings. I learned to use the vocabulary and sentence structure subsequently. More important was that learning the vocabulary, grammar rules, and even sentences as used in the text built my self-confidence as if I knew it and I could use the language well. But when I was asked to memorize long passages, lines of poetry, or long lists of vocabulary and grammar rules by heart, it would be troublesome. At the same time, I would have self-satisfaction if I could do so.

    If I were in the position of teacher in this context, I would contextualize the teaching of language with the life of the learners by creating life like situations in examples and tests. I would make them read many books on the literature in the target language because I do believe that learning language structure can best be done from reading literature as language is used in context in literary text. I would try to teach all language skills with equal focus because learning a language means, in fact, learning all language skills. I would discard the grammar translation method and create oral structural situations for the learners to practice their speaking skill. Likewise, to develop writing and listening skills together with reading and speaking, I would create a lifelike context for writing assignments and make them write more and more because I believe that writing makes one exact and polished. For listening practice, I would provide them opportunity to listen to dialogues in different contexts because they would learn what sorts of utterances are produced in what context.

    Overall, I would balance the four skills and provide opportunities for authentic language learning.

    To print the article, download the PDF

    Members: read the full March 2011 issue of TESOL Journal
    (After logging in, please wait for the page to load completely
    before clicking through to TESOL Journal.)

    If you are not a member of TESOL, you can read about the journal here

    or view parts of issues and purchase articles here.