Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where to get your ELT rap tune from?

Rap and hip-hop songs have become one of my favourtite teaching tools to all ages, from Very Young Learners to adults. It is unbelievable how all the students who rap along the songs I and/or we put together can use all the language chunks from these texts with so much ease.

And all the preparation I had to do for the lesson was usually no longer than 10 minutes, including the following steps:
  • coming up with the target vocabulary/functional language/whatever chunks I thought would be useful to practice
  • coming up with a short repetitive text (dialogue, poem, ...)where the above language would occur naturally in real life
  • typing it all up on a handout for later use in various ways in the classroom
There was only one thing that took much longer and that was to find the right tune: appropriate in style to the topic, long enough, repetitive and simple enough without words spoken over and FREE.

As I have done quite a few workshops on this topic I've collected some, so here they are, in case you would like to have a go at rapping with your sts.

And here's another thing that made me do this. I was so delighted when a teacher stopped me at my latest workshop and told me that her life as well as her sts' life had completely changed ever since she started rapping with them in September and set up their wiki together with sts from six different countries (the idea she got from another session I did on collaborative learning tools). She told me that before the children hated English classes, she wasn't particulary happy about teaching either and ever since she used these tools everything has changed. I thought this was so amazing that I felt a sudden urge to just post all the sources of these free beats as well as the mp3s of them so you can immediately play from here.

So here they go. But before you check out the differnt sites, a quick reminder that in case you want to dowload them, you usually need to register, which is easy enough.

So here I found the first ever beat I found to be useful and appropriate for text where you have a clearer message, you really want to say something, as oppossed to a nice and joyful conversation you might want to put together.

The free beat I used for the winter rap is somewhat more suitable for neutral style lyrics or even a little more festive. It's got a light air to it, so it's easy to imagine anything nice and bright to go with it.

If the words of the text sts produce are slightly more rebellious or contain some stronger messages you can use the inspirational beat I downloaded from youtube. The bloke who made this has loads more uploaded, so if you have internet access where you teach, you don't need to download them, just click on the tune you find the most appropriate.

Of course, there are loads more beats you can download for free from these sites as well as some others. I just thought that these were more appropriate for my texts and sts I'm teaching.

Let me know of how your rapping goes.

Ok, lots of requests came in for more beats. So here's another good one I've found. In case the divshare player freezes, which does happen from time to time, download it onto your computer by clicking on the share button, then on download.
Have fun!


  1. Great, thanks!
    My students also love the instrumental versions of their fav hits as base beat. Just search the title of he song with "instrumental" and go ahead. (The top hit:

  2. Hi Barbi,

    I'm so happy to hear that you are using it so much with your sts too. Isn't it great?
    Would you video any of them so that we can see your sts rap? It would be fantastic for all of to see them.

    What have you noticed as the greatest benefit in using rap and hip-hop songs were?

    Would love to find out about your experiences.


  3. Love it. Thanks for sharing and have bookmarked for future use !

  4. Thanks, Brad. Let me know how it works out for your sts.

  5. On this website you can find a variety of tools that can help you prepare English language exercises within minutes. And its all FREE! COPY/PASTE or write the text you want to use in to our generators. Tools for english language

  6. Hi Tools for english language,

    Glad you dropped by and gave us the link of your website. I tried it myself and it's really very quick to make the specific gap-fill exercises listed on your site, and this is a great help.

    As a teacher I would also benefit and learn a lot from a mini help-article on how to check the quality of the gap-fill exercises that the programme produces automatically. What are the questions for each criteria that make a gap-fill exercise valid, manageable, useful, etc. for the students? If teachers could do a quick check of the computer-generated gap-fill exercise, it would definitely ensure that sts don't get exercises that may have more than one answer that is set, or that they cannot do them because the language of the text is far more complex than the gaps themselves, etc.
    This would really help teachers a great deal.

    Also teachers might find useful to have some tips on how to use these gapped texts in the lesson to make sure that their full potential is exploited.

    Great idea, and looking forward to further help you might be offering for teachers to develop quality teaching materials.


  7. Aaah, sorry I'm kind of lost :D:D Getting back to raps, rapping will help extinguish the phenomenon that young learners tend to speak like books...L1 interferes so much. Rapping helps them grasp natural intonation more easily.

  8. Hi Barbi,
    Didn't notice you being lost. Lost where, when ...???
    Anyway, you are absolutely right about the benefits of rapping. Another thing I noticed is that children memorise and can use any "complicated structure" immdediately, no matter how long they are in terms of number of words.
    For example, when we prepared the skype chat lesson with my A1 level kids-group to chat with my colleague in Brazil, guess which of the questions they ALL wanted to aks from the ones below and why:
    1. How old are you?
    2. What's it like to live in Rio?
    3. Where do you teach?

    Looking forward to your guesses :-)))

  9. I saw that you went to university in Romania. Do you happen to know what the TEFL market is like there?

    I've been trying to get Romanian citizenship for years and if it comes through I'd like to move there.

  10. Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for dropping by. Unfortunately, I can't really help you much because I left Romania quite long ago and I don't know much about the TEFL market there. However, the thing I do know is that sts in Romania are very motivated and it's very easy to teach them for various reasons (Romanian is a latin based language, films are not dubbed and most of them are in English, etc.)

    Wish you best of luck with your citizenship!



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