Name That Tune ESL Listening Activity

Name That Tune is an adaptation of the popular game on TV. This is a fun activity for improving listening skills with music. Students listen to a song with headphones on, write down what they hear, and read the lyrics to their classmates.

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Age Group: Kids, Adults

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Name That Tune ESL Listening Activity

Name That Tune ESL Activity Preparation:

To prepare, think of a song that all of your students are familiar with.

Write the lyrics on a piece of paper and have it ready to use for your example. Also, make sure that your students bring their headphones and smartphones for the lesson.

Name That Tune ESL Activity Guidelines:

To begin, tell the class that you are going to listen to a song on your headphones and take a minute to write down the lyrics.

Pretend to write, take off your headphones, then use the lyrics that you prepared beforehand.

Read the lyrics using your regular voice. Singing is unnecessary.

For example, if your students are rock fans, here are some lyrics that you could read:

Getting born in the state of Mississippi
Papa was a copper, and her mama was a hippy
In Alabama she would swing a hammer
Price you got to pay when you break the panorama
She never knew that there was anything more than poor
What in the world does your company take me for?
Black bandanna, sweet Louisiana
Robbing on a bank in the state of Indiana
She’s a runner
Rebel, and a stunner
On her merry way saying baby, watcha gonna?
Looking down the barrel of a hot metal forty-five
Just another way to survive
California, rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California, show your teeth
She’s my priestess
I’m your priest

Ask the students if they can name the artist and the title of the song.

In this case, it is the song “Dani California” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

After they guess the song, play it for everyone to hear. You can search for the Chili Peppers’ song on YouTube and show them the video. Use another song if you prefer to use other lyrics that you have prepared.

Next, put the students into small groups. Tell everyone to find a song on their smartphone to listen to with their headphones on. They should transcribe the lyrics of the song on paper.

Give everyone about 10 minutes to complete the task.

After they have finished transcribing, each student takes a turn reading the lyrics to their group.

Finally, the students try to guess the title of the songs and the artists.

Write any difficult expressions from the lyrics that students have transcribed on the board. Explain the meaning and give some examples of how you would use it in daily conversation. For extra review, get the students to practice the expressions with their classmates.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

Pick some vocabulary from the previous lesson and try playing the I Spy ESL Game or No Harm No Vowel.

More ESL Listening Activities for Kids and Adults:

View the ESL listening activities archive.

View more ESL activities.

Related ESL Resources Online:

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