Category Archives: Words in a song

Teaching with Adele’s “Hello”

Should I say “hello” in class, everybody would say “hello”, but if I added “Adele”, I bet most of my students would answer “it’s me”. Who, in this planet, hasn’t heard Adele’s new single a thousand times already? And this is good, believe me, at least for teaching purposes. I’ve always found it easier to do songs students are already familiar with as once they know the melody, they are further motivated to work with the lyrics. Mindful of the fact that one of the most important ingredients in learning a language is motivation, what could be more motivating than singing along Adele’s song now that it is being played everywhere?

THE ACTIVITY

Level. B2 (Advanced)

Time required: 30 to 40 minutes

Materials: teacher’s handout here, students’s handout here

Warming Up:

Show a picture of Adele and elicit any information they might know about her and her music. Offer some information about the song they are about to hear.

Adele is a British singer and songwriter. Her two previous albums, 19 and 21, have earned the artist numerous awards. Now, she has just released her third album 25 and the song Hello is the first single from the album. The song is a soul piano ballad that talks about nostalgia and regret and plays out like a conversation. Hello is the first song to sell over one million digital copies within one week of its release in the USA. (source Wikipedia)

Step 1. Introducing telephone vocabulary

Play from the beginning until 0:27 and ask students to tell you what Adele is saying when she is on the phone. Write on the board:

I’ve just got here, and I think I’m losing signal already. Hello? Can you hear me now? Sorry. I’m sorry, I’m — Sorry

Focus on the expression “losing signal”. Do students know what it means? Elicit vocabulary they know related to using the phone and write it on the board.

Step 2. Vocabulary handout

Hopefully students will know most of the words and expressions you are going to give them. Give students the handout and ask them to do Exercise 1.

Ask students to share their answers in pairs and then go over the answers as a class.

Step 3. The video: telling the story.

Tell students they are going to watch the video without sound; their task will be to narrate the story in the video focusing on using the vocabulary they have just learnt.

Ask students to work in pairs, student A and student B. The video lasts about 6 minutes.  Student A will face the board and will tell student B, who is sitting with his back to the board, in as much detail as possible the story in the video for the first three minutes. Then, they change roles and student B does the same from 3.00 to 6.06. Encourage students to use the targeted vocabulary. Make sure everyone understands the activity and demonstrate if necessary.

Step 4.  Focusing on the lyrics

Students listen to the song and their task will be to find the following:

  • a verb meaning  to desire to know something.
  • three phrasal verbs.
  • an informal contraction that some people consider incorrect.
  • an idiomatic expression meaning to be lucky, successful and greatly admired.
  • a modal+ perfect infinitive
  • an idiomatic expression meaning to cause someone great emotional pain.
  • a combination that goes against grammar, but which is very common in casual registers.
  • an idiomatic expression meaningto achieve a goal, to be successful.

Ask students to compare their answers in pairs. Play the video a second time. Go over answers as a class.

Step 5. Singing along

Give students the lyrics and ask them to sing along. Should you have shy students, encourage them to shadow read. It might be good idea, at this stage, to remind students that listening to songs will help them improve pronunciation, listening and understanding of the English language.

The content of the lyrics is open to interpretation. Some people say it’s  about a failed love relationship, some others argue that it is about Adele’s relationships with everybody she loves and cannot be with; others, on the other hand, claim it is Adele’s  conversation with her old self before she became famous.

Which interpretation do you fancy?

 

Words in a song: by one’s side

This is the third cropped song of the series “Words in a song”. If you want to see the Whys and the Hows of this exercise , follow this link to the first song in this series.

This time I’ve chosen the song Mirror by Lil Wayne Ft. Bruno Mars and the highlighted expression is ” by your side“.

Steps :

♥Orally , introduce the word you want students to learn, giving examples and asking them to infer the meaning.

♥Choose a song that contains the word or words you want to teach

♥Crop the video with tubechop; you don’t want to play the whole video.

♥ Students listen to the cropped video and identify when, in the song, the highlighted word(s) has been used.

♥ Second time: students do a fill- in- the- gaps exercise or any other king of exercise that takes my fancy.

♥ Third time: students sing along

HOMEWORK: Now, very important, students need to go home and write a sentence containing the highlighted word(s) . Ask for vonlunteers to translate the cropped song .

Here’s the cropped version and the corresponding lyrics with my proposal for blanks.

LIES,WHY,CORRECT, FRIEND, MIRROR,NOBODY, UNDERSTAND,WINDOW

[Bruno Mars]
_____ on the wall, here we are again
Through my rise and fall
You’ve been my only _____
You told me that they can ______ the man I am
So _____ are we here talkin’ to each other again

[Lil Wayne]
Oh, I see the truth in your _____
I see _______ by your side
but I’m with you when you ‘re all alone
And you ______ me when I’m lookin wrong
I see that guilt beneath the shame
I see your soul through your ______ pain
I see the scars that remain
I see you Wayne, Im lookin at the..

Words in a Song: Give Up

Time for a phrasal verb in the second cropped song of the series “Words in a song”. If you want to see the Whys and the Hows of this exercise , follow this link to the first song in this series.

Steps :

♥Orally , introduce the word you want students to learn, giving examples and asking them to infer the meaning.

♥Choose a song that contains the word or words you want to teach

♥Crop the video with tubechop; you don’t want to play the whole video.

♥ Students listen to the cropped video and identify when, in the song, the highlighted word(s) has been used.

♥ Second time: students do a fill- in- the- gaps exercise or any other king of exercise that takes my fancy.

♥ Third time: students sing along

♥ HOMEWORK: Now, very important, students need to go home and write a sentence containing the highlighted word(s) . Ask for vonlunteers to translate the cropped song .

This time I have chosen  the beautiful song My Kind of Love by Emeli  Sande to teach this popular phrasal  verb.

Cropped version

Fill in the Blanks

THOUGHT,QUESTION,PERFECT,FEEL,ENOUGH,PROMISE,MATTER

I know I’m far from _____, nothin’ like your entourage
I can’t grant you any wishes, I won’t _______ you the stars.
But don’t ever ________ if my heart beats only for you, it beats only for you.

Cause when you’ve given up.
When no ______ what you do it’s never good ______.
When you never _______ that it could ever get this tough,
That’s when you _____ my kind of love.

A Five-Minute Activity to Bring Music into the Classroom

Wouldn’t you like to be listening  to the latest hit on the radio and find out that you are able to understand the lyrics? Wow!!! Don’t you, every now and then,  sing along even though you can only remember some  of the words from the chorus and you don’t have the slightest clue about what it means? I’m sure you do! We have all been there!

But time flies and the course is short  and even though I feel listening to a song can be as good as doing a traditional listening comprehension exercise  the truth is that dedicating 20 minutes to a song never seems to fit into my lesson plan .

The idea is to bring music into the class as often as possible but without this activity taking too much time off my lessons. My focus in this five- minute-maximun activity will be on teaching  vocabulary – a structure , an idiomatic expression, a phrasal verb or a certain word. The idea is to help students  improve their listening skills and pronunciation, as well as teaching vocabulary.

In this song, we focus on the verb “to try”.

STEPS

♥Orally introduce the word you want students to learn by giving examples and asking them to infer the meaning. In the case of the verb “to try” I might want to teach the structure: Try+inf

♥Choose a song that contains the word or words you want to teach

♥Crop the video with, for example, tubechop; remember you don’t want to play the whole song .

♥First time: Students listen to the cropped video and identify when, in the song, the highlighted word(s) has been used -they can raise their hand when they hear the target word(s) .

♥ Second time: students do a fill- in- the- gaps exercise or a spot- the -mistakes exercise with the lyrics.

♥ Third time: students sing along; yes, why not? It’s  a very good pronunciation exercise!!!

♥ HOMEWORK: Now, very important, students need to go home and write a sentence containing the highlighted word(s). Ask for volunteers to translate the cropped song .

My Fill in the Blanks

DESIRE,DIE,GET UP, SOMETIMES,SOMEONE’S, LIES,WONDER,JUST

Ever _____ about what he’s doing
How it all turned to ______
__________ I think that it’s better to never ask why

Where there is ____
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
____ bound to get burned
But ______ because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna _____
You’ve gotta _____ and try try try
Gotta ……

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