Chris Walklett

Using songs in the classroom to explore social/controversial issues

In these extraordinary times in which we are currently living it is more important than ever to adjust the sails of what we teach and how we teach it, allowing for discussion of societal, cultural and social issues. Songs provide the ideal medium for this. This session will explore the uses this resource can be put to the ELT classroom.


"Songs have been used in the classroom in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of purposes, most of them if we are being honest rather ‘lite’ in nature. This session however will suggest that this resource can (and should) be used more effectively to highlight weightier issues.

The presenter believes that (thoughtfully selected) songs are the best way in and the most suitable resource to discuss controversial, social, cultural & political issues in the ELT Classroom. Similarly they can also be used to explore personal issues that students might otherwise feel reluctant to discuss. The reasons for songs offering these possibilities seems to be that this resource seems to have the ability to depersonalise such concerns, discussing them at arm’s length so to speak through the eyes of the singer / the words of the songwriter. And this ability - to take a step away - seems to be appreciated by students.

During this workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to input ideas as to which issues could be discussed and which songs could be used to do so and additionally how this resource could be best employed in confronting such issues.

This session will suggest that a CLIL (Content & Language Integrated Learning) approach to the use of songs is the way to go and raise the question of whether any subject is too taboo to be discussed in the language classroom via a song.

This session is part of a wider project that seeks to ensure that the 2020s are the decade in which songs are more widely used in teaching as a way of educating and informing as regards important local and world issues.


Chris Walklett is an ELT teacher/teacher trainer & history/cultural studies lecturer at a well-known UK university. His passion is using songs and song lyrics in the ELT classroom and has have given many presentations on the topic including a TedX talk. He is the author of the Teaching Tracks series on using songs and their lyrics in the language classroom.