Song Showdown!

Play a fun game to explore the world through music!
Ages 5-18 / 30
min Activity
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  • Foster an understanding of cultural diversity through music, and explore similarities and differences in styles and themes 
  • Participate in a game to guess the meaning of songs in different languages 
  • Connect with other classrooms through follow-up activities (located in the “Extensions” tab) to continue exploring music in other languages (e.g., interacting with another class over a live or asynchronous exchange)

Supporting Research

There are numerous benefits when we learn multiple languages, such as decreased prejudice toward people different from ourselves, greater analytical and problem-solving abilities, and enhanced listening and memory skills. Importantly, when we learn a new language, we also learn about the cultural context surrounding it, and gain a deeper understanding of our own culture. This activity aims to foster students’ self-awareness as they reflect and share about their language and culture, and perspective taking and inclusivity as they seek out and try to understand others’ perspectives and experiences in how they express themselves. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.


Activity Partners

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Educator Note

This activity offers an opportunity for students to share about their native language(s) or the language they are currently learning in school. For language learners, encourage them to identify a song in the language that they are currently learning, translate the lyrics, and interpret the meaning of the song.


  1. Begin the activity by discussing the role of music across different cultures. You might say: “Music has been around for tens of thousands of years, and continues to be a huge part of our world! It has such an incredible power to convey our emotions, experiences, and identity, giving us a glimpse into each other’s hearts and souls. Each culture has its own unique musical style, but there are still common themes that echo through our songs.”
  2. Ask students the following questions:
    • What kind of music do you enjoy listening to? Does it depend on your mood or what you’re doing?
    • How is music part of your identity? Do you associate certain songs with your childhood, holidays, traditions, or community?
    • Is there a song that evokes a strong emotion when you listen to it? What song is it, and how does it make you feel?

    As students share about different songs, write them down on a physical or digital board that is visible to everyone, and encourage them to describe each song’s meaning as well.

    If students are currently learning a new language, consider playing a few songs in the language that they are learning, and ask them to select a song that they enjoyed. Then, students might work on translating the lyrics, interpreting the song’s meaning, and describing how the song made them feel.
  3. Then, display this slideshow for students, which leads them through a game to guess the meaning of different songs from around the world.

    After playing each song, give students some time to share their guesses, as well as any clues that they used, like the song’s rhythm or the singer’s tone. Then, examine the lyrics to interpret the song together, and figure out whose guess was closest!
  4. Afterwards, invite students to reflect on the songs that they heard. For example, you might ask:
    • Consider how people express themselves through music. What similarities and differences did you notice in the expression of emotions, experiences, dreams, and challenges across the different songs?
    • What did you notice about the different musical styles, like the instruments, rhythm, and lyrics?
    • Was it easy or difficult to guess each song’s meaning? What clues helped you form your initial interpretation?Did the lyrics make it easier to understand the song’s meaning?
    • Did you notice any common themes across the different songs? How do these similarities reflect our shared human experiences and emotions?
    • Was there a song that had a theme that particularly resonated with you, or one that sparked strong emotions
    • How does listening to music from different cultures help us feel more connected to each other?

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.