What’s that sound…?

In issue 63 of  TESOL France magazine an article by Mike Harrison (@harrisonmike) encourages teachers to use sound in the classroom. Inspired by this push I wanted to post this lesson idea.

To get students into the mood for focused listening get them to close their eyes and listen to their environment for one minute.

After a minute, ask the class to list all the things they heard in the school environment around them. Ask them to think about what the sounds might be, how near or far away they were, whether they were discrete or continuous, natural or man-made.


Then play them track 3. Dead Wood ‘Warming’ from below.

Ask them –  What kind of words could you use to describe the sounds? What images do you see?

Here work could be done on the language the class produces in response to the questions.

Some of the following words to describe sounds could be used to prompt students:



After the class has time to respond to the questions tell them that the piece of music was made in response to a photo. So what do you think the photo was? How would you describe the photo?

Again language produced here can be worked on.

Then four photos could be shown and students are asked to pick the one they think inspired the piece of music that they heard.

Photo number three of a wooden structure peeling and drying was the photo which inspired track number 3.

There can be many follow up/alternative activities should the lesson be a hit, e.g. play some more tracks from the INSTAGR/AM/BIENT project and match to photos already shown; students can draw a response to the sounds heard; they can write a story or a scene inspired by the sounds. See the one minute listening site for more ideas.


@mikeharrison recording at #vrtwebcon 2012 where he shows how to use sound effects in the classroom.

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