Category Archives: Music

Phones and Music: a Superb Combination

Funny thing! Every single year, no matter the level I’m teaching one of my lessons is  dedicated, without fail, to mobile phones.

This year, in November, I published a lesson for my B2 (upper-intermediate) students (lesson here) and now, it seems to be the turn of my B1 (intermediate) students.

This year my lessons about this topic seem to revolve around Adele’s hit “Hello”. Hey! What else did you expect? It’s not like every single year we have a song with
so many scenes where the leading actor is the mighty mobile phone. We certainly need to take advantage of this. Besides, I love Adele.

The lesson

This lesson is  aimed at students with a language level of B1 and focuses on discussing, reading and writing about mobile phones.There is also some general phone vocabulary and a song.

 

Warm-up: Speaking. Ask students as a whole class some of these questions.

  • What do you use your mobile phone for?
  • Have you ever lost your mobile phone?
  • How many text messages do you send every day?
  • Would you say you’re addicted to your mobile or the Internet?
  • Have you ever…?
  1. lost you phone?
  2. sent a message to the wrong person?
  3.  forgotten to turn your phone off/set to silent or vibrate mode (with embarrassing                      consequences)?

Teaching Vocabulary. You might want to show the slides twice to consolidate vocabulary. I would suggest doing it a third time at the end of the lesson.

Conjunto de Fichas creado con GoConqr por cristina.cabal

The song.
Warm-up. Students are going to listen to a song, so it may be a good idea to get them into the right mood by introducing the activity in a lively way.
Don’t tell students just yet we are going to listen to a song. After revising the vocabulary from the previous exercise, make a long pause until you have all the students staring at you, and say “hello”; I assume everybody should say “hello”. Pause again. Say “Adele”. I bet half the class would add “It’s me”. There you are! The perfect introduction!
(you might want to remind students that to introduce yourself over the phone “ It’s “ or “this is” are used ie. It’s Adele (speaking)/ this is Adele (speaking))

Task 1. Give students a list of words or expressions from the song. Give them some time to read them. If necessary, review how to pronounce the most difficult words. Depending on your class, you might want to keep the words in the order they are going to hear them or if you want a bigger challenge you can shuffle them and/or add some words that are not in the lyrics. Play the song and ask students to cross off the words as they hear them. Play the song once or twice depending on how challenging you want  the activity to be.
Handout here

 

Task 2.  Give students a photocopy with the lyrics of the song and ask them to sing/read along focusing on pronunciation.

Handout here

Reading and writing. Ask students to read online “7 strange stories of lost cell phones”  from the website mentalfloss.com and write a similar short story about something strange, funny or unusual that happened to them using their mobile phones.

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?