Lyrics and language

Avantika Thakur

It was by accident that I learnt to use music as a teaching tool. I am passionate about music, and so between art and group activities, my students were often treated to calming music. I mostly played instrumental tracks introducing a new instrument or natural sounds of rivers and oceans in the background when they engaged in independent work. To my surprise, music, especially different kinds of music, had an immense impact on them. They became more energetic and alert.

teaching-english-with-music To further my little experiment, I tried to imbibe songs into my English curriculum. I discovered that there was a lot a song could achieve, which reading a passage could not. Often, my students would approach a reading passage as mere exercise, where they had to find the answers within the lines, and somehow fill up the blanks to prove that they had understood the passage. Listening to a song and comprehending its lyrics was much more than merely filling the blanks.

The first song, I chose was Imagine by John Lennon. It is a classic and also has a message of peace and non-violence. Choosing a song with a message or lesson also emphasizes values, which is beneficial for the culture that you aim to bring about in the classroom. Some other interesting song choices for comprehension could be the national anthem or popular songs in regional languages. These could encourage students to express the meaning by translating it into English. While teaching a new skill or objective, the control and responsibility of the lesson, has to gradually evolve from the teacher to the students gaining complete and independent control. Therefore, at Teach for India, I was encouraged to strategize my lesson in the following manner:

The author is a graduate in law from National Law School, Bangalore. She taught second and third graders during the Teach for India fellowship in Delhi in a low-income private school. She can be reached at

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