This week schools across China resumed classes after the long Spring Festival holiday. At my university, I began a new semester and wanted to kick things off with an interesting lesson. On my travels, I listened to a lot of music and so I thought it would be good to start with a music-themed lesson.

To begin with, I taught some musical instruments as vocabulary – guitar, piano, etc. I started off easy and then threw in some more difficult ones. I chucked a couple of simple conversation questions at my students and had them work together. Here’s the PPT I used:

ESL Vocabulary: Musical Instruments from David Wills

I also used a video, downloaded from YouTube, and had my students point out the instruments involved. You can pretty much use anything, but I liked this one:


Next, I taught musical genres – that is, types of music. I transition with another video. I used Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” but again you can use anything. Ask what instruments they can see/hear, and then what type of song it is.

I used this PPT for the next part of the lesson:

ESL Vocabulary: Musical Genres from David Wills

If your students are struggling to understand, or perhaps losing interest, you might want a better demonstration of each type of music. If so, a video like this one will do:


Music is one of those topics that’s really fun to teach, but also useful. To make this lesson more relevant to IELTS students, try using some questions from part one of the speaking test.