Teaching English is a lot of fun. The activities you can do with your students are limitless and not circumscribed to just textbooks or exercises. One of the many amusing things you can apply, and one that students constantly ask for, is song activities.

I like to use songs to practice or reinforce grammar, specifically verb tenses like the simple past. This tense comes with a lot of new vocabulary because of the introduction of the past form of the irregular verbs, and there is also a pronunciation challenge: the –ed endings (something most of us have struggled with) in the past form of regular verbs.  A song will help students reinforce their vocabulary, help their listening and pronunciation, all while they have a great time and use the language meaningfully. Furthermore, music in the classroom will contribute to a better acquisition of the language and to increased levels of class motivation and participation.

So, if you want to try this out with your pupils, here are five songs that will definitely make teaching the simple past a joyful experience:


“Lava”- Disney

This is the soundtrack for the Academy Award short film Lava. Although I haven’t been able to find the film online (it was originally released in cinemas with the movie Inside Out), Disney released an outstanding lyric video with footage from the actual short film which shows all the actions and events mentioned in the lyrics. It is a great asset for increasing comprehension.

This track is slow-paced and full of vocabulary for irregular verbs.


“Set Fire to the Rain”- Adelle

A pop hit all of your students will know. This is a tune full of energy that definitely will put your students in an active and participative mood.



“Trouble”- Coldplay

A classic of the alternative rock genre, by an awesome British band.  This song is rich in vocabulary for irregular verbs in simple past.



“Wrecking Ball”- Miley Cyrus

Warning: Unless you’re teaching adults, please do not play the song video in front of your class. Other than that, the lyrics are nice and rich in vocabulary.

Video (just the lyric video, not the actual one)



“Perfect”- Ed Sheeran

A pleasing love ballad by one of the most popular British singers nowadays. This song is great because it is really slow-paced, perfect for pronunciation practice.



How has been your experience when teaching English through songs? Which tracks have you used for teaching the simple past in your classes? Let us know in the comment section.

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