Since 2005 I’ve been making worksheets for English based on song lyrics, and I now have quite a collection. Many of these I call polished worksheets because I:
  1. verify their accuracy (so that they are not just copied off the Net, where you often find mistakes) ;
  2. improve the layout, and add an image or two;
  3. have taken the liberty of including punctuation so that one gets a clearer (visual and textual) understanding of a line or verse and highlighting idiomatic language;
  4. include simplified definitions of words, additional clues and hyperlinks to support clarity, to help put things into (historical) perspective or to draw attention to poetic license, etc.
  5. use gapped text (sometimes incl. the first letter) and often using two different versions, so that pairs of teams may help each other find the missing words.
Carefully chosen ones
As I often accompany myself on the guitar and sing them to students, I want to take those that are doable for my ‘limited’ voice skills. But more importantly, I choose music that doesn’t drown out the singer (who must articulate clearly) so that it not be strenuous for ‘learner’ ears. The songs should serve to illustrate either an interesting and useful grammatical aspect and/or should provide idiomatic language. The songs, furthermore, should spark motivation for speaking so that we may discuss themes—but not limit students, as they may wish to branch out into loosely related topics instead.
The latest song I’ve prepared is by Mark Knopfler, called “Sailing to Philadelphia”.
I’ve chosen it for several reasons (besides it being a beautiful song):
  1. While it might contain a few challenging words which you might not come across in everyday English, the syntax is simple enough for intermediate levels.
  2. The theme is an interesting one; it addresses American history and this makes for good (post-activity) conversation (e.g. can be extended to current issues of migration).
  3. It was inspired by a good book from the 90s, which means that it should entice participants, especially those with a passion for reading, to look into it further.
  4. Students can be encouraged to research more into something like the Fellowship of the Royal Society and their role today. From there, you may assign a short presentation.
Finally, I always encourage participants to take time to go and listen to the original song. Care to give it a listening to? Go right ahead! One finds virtually everything on YouTube.
 (I might even take my guitar with me next time to the get-together, if you like).
Plus, you’ll find a copy of my worksheet on my shared Evernote folder:
Other site for song lyrics for ELT: (but not mine)