Karaoke in the TEFL Classroom

The word Karaoke means empty orchestra from the Japanese Kara = empty and Oke (short for Okesutora) = orchestra.

Karaoke tracks are without lead vocals. The lead vocals are provided by the performer singing the Karaoke song through a microphone.

The song is played in the background and the words displayed on a television screen.

Singing Karaoke songs is a stimulating and fun activity that can be exploited to teach English‏‎ to learners of all ages and levels.


  • Karaoke singing reduces the level of self-awareness and allows even the shyest student to perform in front of an audience.
  • The need to read and reproduce what’s on the screen in a timely fashion takes away the pressure of delivering perfectly pronounced words. Students will read the words and say them out loud almost automatically.
  • Karaoke tunes are often very popular, inducing an almost immediate response on the student’s part. They already know the tone and pitches of the song and by following the lyrics, they can exercise their control over the language.
  • Singing along increases the attention span of the students.
  • Repetition is an inherent element to Karaoke singing that can be exploited ad hoc.
  • The competitive element can also be exploited by organizing students into teams.

ESL Activities

There are many activities you can devise around a Karaoke song, before or after your students have played with it!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Prepare a list of words – some from the song, others related to it but not contained in the song. Have the students listen to the song and tick the words they hear.
  • Prepare a cloze test using part of the song. Have the students listen to that part of the song and fill in the gaps with the missing words. Optional: provide a list of suitable words they can choose from.
  • Number each line in the chorus and list them in the wrong order. Then have the students listen to the chorus and put the lines in the correct order by renumbering.
  • Select part of a song. Divide any full sentences into halves and jumble them up. Then have students listen to that part of the song and match the halves.
  • Edit one part of the song by purposefully making several mistakes. Have the students listen to that part of the song and correct your mistakes.
  • Prepare a grid with relevant verb tenses and have the students place each verb they find in the lyrics in the correct column.
  • Have the students read an article about the singer and answer questions you have provided.

These two last activities target pronunciation:

  • Select a part of the song where a sound you want to target, for example /ai/, is more present. Then have students find the words with that sound.

see its very defined, girl

one of a kind

but you mush up my mind

you walk to get declined

oh lord…

My baby is driving me crazy

To increase the level of difficulty place the words containing the sound /ai/ in the wrong lines and have students replace them after having identified them.

see its very declined, girl

one of a mind

but you mush up my kind

you walk to get defined

oh lord…

My baby is driving me crazy

  • Replace all vowels in the song chorus with one vowel only, for example the vowel a. Then have your students set them right.


Virtual Society

Info superhighway interaction

Into the future, into the future



Vartaal sacaata, anfasaparhaghwaa antaractaan

Anta tha fatara, anta tha fatara



The music and words of a Karaoke song are stored on special compact discs known as CDGs.

A CDG (Compact Disc + Graphics) is the standard format for most English Karaoke discs. These discs can either be played on a Karaoke machine that supports CDG or on a regular player that can play CDs.

A DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) is a disc that is able to store large amounts of information on a single disc. This format is different from CDGs so you will need a Karaoke player capable of reading DVDs to play this format. Most non-English music will be in this format.

CDGs have no video running in the background when the song is playing.

DVDs instead have a video running in the background in addition to lyrics, while the music is playing.

There are several other disc formats to choose from but bear in mind that most new songs will come out on CDG before they appear in any other format.

See Also

Music in the TEFL Classroom – more about using and exploiting music to help your students learn English

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Posted in Lesson Plans & Activities.

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