Engaging Learners with a Songwriting Project

Why I love project-based learning

In all my years of teaching, I never thought a songwriting project could be so much fun for both learners and me.

As I pointed out in my previous post on using a film project. I do a lot of project work with high-intermediate and advanced language learners for many reasons, including its emphasis on learner creativity and collaboration.

The songwriting project I use in my textbook, Actively Engaged in Academic Writing (AEAWhas three objectives:

Actively Engaged in Academic Writing 2020 Edition
  • analyze the structure of different AABA song forms
  • write an original song using suggested formulas
  • apply a personal experience or interest to the song

Sign up now for a sample copy at Bokomaru Publications.

How it works

Working in teams of four, with an A team and a B team, learners get to study the AABA song form and discover how it is used in different songs. Learners learn songwriting terms, such as title, verse, and refrain. They are introduced to three different song writing formulas: basic, problem-solution and vignette. As a teacher, I love this kind of organization because it gets learners thinking in a structured way.  In addition, students learn how to interpret and analyze a song. Finally, learners present the song in front of the class, and comment as on the work of another pair.

What Learners say about the songwriting project

First, learners love the opportunity it gives them to be creative.

Be creative with Activity Engaged In Academic Writing

One student, Laurence, commented:

In this songwriting project, I learned a lot about songwriting, and how complicated it can be. You
have to check if everything works, like if your sentences are too long, if the lyrics fit well together,
if your words rhyme, and if your structure is good. I also learned that it can help to write whatever flows through your mind, because there can be some good song ideas. I also learned a great deal on how to analyze a song.


Second, most students also enjoy working in teams, even though it can be challenging.

Morgan enjoyed the songwriting project because it

taught me more than just how to write a song. It taught me to work in a team and to be organized. It wasn’t easy because  I was with people with whom I never talked before, and we had to figure out a way to communicate. We had trouble with the communication, and we weren’t able to present on the date that we were supposed to. I think it taught me a lesson, and for my future projects I will know that I have to be organized and to communicate with the other members of my team.

In commenting on the songwriting project, Emile mentioned

Encourage teamwork with songwriting project

that it was fairly easy to write a decent song/poem but incredibly hard to write a very good song/poem. Writing it in a team of two was also extremely difficult since two individuals don’t necessarily have the same aesthetic values. For example, I was criticized by my teammate
because I didn’t really like rhymes. I thought they sounded forced, but my teammate thought
they sounded good. 


Third, another positive upshot of the songwriting project is that it encourages learners to brainstorm and write about a captivating subject for their song. 

What Sophia learned from the songwriting project is

that it’s easier to write a song when you have a subject that you are passionate about. It makes it easier to come up with ideas and is more motivating. I also learned that it’s hard to find a topic that is worth talking about, especially when you have to work in teams because you have to find a topic that all the members can relate to. This can also be applied to other writing styles.

Content is king in songwriting project

Alicia also thought that choosing the right subject was critical:

I learned that writing a song is not that difficult if you have a theme or general idea to start with. You have to choose a subject you like, and after it will be easy to write something about that. Andrea and I talked about life and the fact that we have to enjoy every little moment of it, and it made me realize that time goes by so fast. I learned about how to write a good song and how to enjoy life to the fullest, so I think that it was enriching.

Finally, Claudia summed up beautifully her appreciation of the songwriting project by stating:

people from my generation care about rather the same things, like the environment and the injustices in our society. It also made me realize that songwriting isn’t as easy as it seems, and I should respect the work of artists more.

Actively Engaged in Academic Writing 2020 Edition


AEAW New Edition available in January 2020.

Sign up now for a sample copy at Bokomaru Publications.

Years of experience reveal that upper-intermediate and advanced A-block students enjoy innovative, well-designed, and engaging projects. That’s why Actively Engaged in Academic Writing (AEAW) aims to provide students with a project-based approach that is two steps ahead of anything they have ever seen before. Students are sure to discover new uses for English that will spark their curiosity, harness their creativity, and gamify an irresistible impulse to revise every draft. With a foolproof but flexible 14-lesson sequence, every experienced and novice teacher can start their semester with new levels of confidence.

Get free video-based tutoring on how to use the textbook and
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