Tag Archives: song

Teaching I Wish/If Only through Music and Visuals

“Maybe all  one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets”. Arthur Miller.

Hopefully!  I surely have had my fair share of mistakes, and consequently  a few regrets too although to be honest,  I don’t really know if the are of the right kind. There are a couple of things, or maybe more, that I would probably have done differently if given the chance but…. this is  now water over the bridge and it’s no use crying over spilt milk! What about you? Do you have any regrets?

Let’s talk about regrets today.

Aim: to teach students how to express regrets using the structures I wish/if only

Level: B2

Lead in:  Play this 45-second audio clip and ask students to try to identify the next structure you are going to teach them.

1. I WISH (THAT)/IF ONLY+SIMPLE PAST

Introducing: display the picture below and draw students’ attention to the reflection of the man in the mirror. Ask: What does the old man see in the mirror? What is he thinking?

Listen to the students’ suggestions and use each of them to introduce

  • I wish (that)/if only + simple past

I wish/if only I was younger or I wish I was in my twenties.

I wish/if only I was handsome or I wish I was stronger… etc

Explaining the grammar: we use this structure to express a desire for a situation that does not exist right now in the present. A wish is a desire to change a real situation into an unreal one. This unreal situation is expressed in the simple past. In a wish sentence, the simple past does not indicate past time; it only indicates that the situation is unreal.

  • That is optional.

I wish/if only I lived in the countryside, but I don’t. I live in a city.

  • Were is used for both singular and plural subjects in a formal context

I wish/if only he were younger, but he’s not. He is old.

Practising. Guided practice.

1. Pictures.

Students look at the pictures and make a sentence using “wish”. Flip them to see a possible answer.

2. The power of music. A meditation activity.

Ask students to close their eyes. Turn off the lights, close windows and play some soft music to create the right atmosphere and help them relax. Tell them you are going to ask them some questions about themselves. Use a low, slow, soothing voice. They will need to imagine how they would answer the question using the structure I wish/if only + past tense. Read out the questions one by one, take your time and remember to keep your voice slow and calm.

 

  • If you could change something in your body, what would it be?
  •  If you could change something about your personality, what would you change?
  • If you could change anything about your job, what would it be?
  • If you could change something about you partner, what would it be?
  • If you could change something about your life, what would it be?
  • If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Practising. Freer practice. 

Students in pairs  talk about their anwers to the questions above. Let them choose the ones they want to talk about as some answers could be a bit personal.

2.  I WISH (THAT)/IF ONLY+ WOULD

Introducing: display the picture below and ask students to describe what they see.

Now, ask students to provide a sentence with “wish” about the picture. At this stage, students will probably suggest “She wishes he didn’t see so much TV”.

Draw students’ attention to the girl’s mood and offer this alternative sentence

She wishes/if only he wouldn’t watch so much football

Explaining grammar: the structure wish+ (that)/if only +would is used to talk about what other people do that annoys or irritates us and that we wish was different.

Practising. Guided practice.

Play the video and ask students to make sentences based on the pictures using I wish+would.

Practising. Freer Practice.

Students in pairs answer these questions:

  • What annoys you about living where you live now?
  • What annoys you most about living at home with your family?
  • What annoying habits does your best friend have?
  • What is the most annoying thing about your partner?
  • Is there anything about your teacher that annoys you? 🙂

3.  I WISH/IF ONLY + (THAT) + PAST PERFECT

Introducing. Display the picture below and ask: do you think he has any regrets?

Elicit: He wishes he hadn’t drunk so much or he wishes he hadn’t danced so much

                                                      Photo by JeanJulien

Explaining the grammar: 

We use ‘wish’ + past perfect to talk about regrets from the past. These are things that have already happened but we wish they had happened in a different way.

Practising. Guided Practice.

Introduce the activity by asking students to think back to the time when they were teenagers. Ask them if they have any regrets.

For example: I wish I hadn’t given up my studies.

Tell students they are going to watch a video of a song Mistakes of my Youth  by the American rock band Eels. In this video, the singer thinks back on his childhood and all the things he did wrong. Ask them to watch the video and write down as many I wish/if only + past perfect sentences they can think of based on the video.

Freer practice.

What are your regrets when you think back on your life? Make a list of three regrets and tell the story to your partner.

Grammar pdf

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

  • Writing a dialogue. Working in pairs, the students should write a conversation among two friends who are complaining about their boyfriends/girlfriends or bosses. Tell them to use as many I wish/if only sentences as possible. Ask students to act it out.
  • Writing about being the opposite gender.  Ask students to write a compositions about how their lives would be different if they were the opposite sex. Ask  them to use I wish/ if only sentences
  • Discussion about cultural customs. Lead a class discussion about what customs in their country wish were different.

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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?

 

A Little Bit of Thriller on Halloween

Raise your hand if you have never seen Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. No hands? Right! Just what I thought! You might like it or not, but what is undeniable is that this video has become a classic.

I was racking my brains about the activity I could give my students for Halloween this year when suddenly the image of the undead rising out from their graves in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” appeared in my mind out of nowhere. Yeah! I know! Weird!

A spooky video but also a masterpiece. I hope you enjoy the activity and also the homework.

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Time required: about 60 minutes

SETTING THE  ATMOSPHERE.

Ask students some of these questions:

  • Do you believe in ghosts? Do you know any stories about ghosts?
  • Has anything ever happened to you that you cannot explain?
  • Do you believe that vampires or zombies  exist?
  • What is the most frightening experience you have had?

THE VIDEO.

Pdf of the lesson here.

Ask students if they know who Michael Jackson was. Can they name any of his songs? Most probably students will know who Michael Jackson was and will probably mention the song “Thriller”. If you deem it appropriate, give students some information about this video, like for example, that it was voted the most influential pop video of all time.

More information about the video here.

The video lasts about 13 minutes. It is going to be divided into two parts, with a different task for each part .

 

TASK 1. Dictation (from the beginning to 4.40)

Tell students they are going to see the first part of the video where there is a dialogue between Michael Jackson and his girlfriend. Half the class will take Michael’s role and half the class the girl’s role.

  • Have the students work in pairs. Half the pairs in the class will write down the part of Michael Jackson and the other half the part of the girlfriend.
  • I suggest you give students the beginning of the dialogue as M. Jackson’s first sentence might be difficult to understand.

Jackson: Honestly, we’re out of gas.

Girlfriend: So, what are we going to do now?

  • You might need to play it twice.
  • Students help each other complete the dialogue
  • Pair students once again, this time you want to pair a student with Michael’s part and a student with the girlfriend’s part.
  • Ask students to act it out.

TASK 2. The Song (from 4.40 until the end)

Write/display the following words on the board and ask students to guess meanings. Explain if necessary and drill pronunciation.

Download the pdf with the activity here

  • Play the video once.

Play the song and ask students to fill in the gaps with the words in the box. Words can be used more than once.

  • Play the video a second time

Students complete task 1 and try to fill in the blanks for the words in phonemic transcription.

  • Check and listen again to enjoy the video and maybe… sing along?

TASK 3. The homework

I am well aware that I won’t be able to check this homework and I am  also pretty sure  my students, which are all adults, won’t be volunteering to show how much they have learnt from doing this homework, but I guess that at home they will be having a  great time and that’s important too. Enjoy!

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Used TO: Introducing Used to ,a Nice Short Writing Game and a Beautiful Song.

After almost eight years posting ( I had another blog before this one) I have to say that I am absolutely convinced that if it were not for my blog ,I wouldn’t be able to find and remember half the activities that I do in my class. Don’t misunderstand me !!! I’m not implying by any means that I’m sort of disorganised or forgetful; a teacher should never fall into this category ,but the truth is that this blog has helped me tons to  have all my stuff organised . That must have been the reason that prompted me to start writing… but to be honest, I cannot remember ! :).

Two activities that I did yesterday with my students and that I don’t want to forget are

1. A small warm-up to introduce Used To

2. A  fun nice short writing game that requires no preparation

1. Introducing Used To. The picture below shows what I wrote on the whiteboard. I made sure I gave examples of past actions -in the diagram the font is in black- and past states -in blue. (Remember : We use ‘used to’ for something that happened regularly in the past but no longer happens or for something  that was true but  no longer is).

At this stage , a good performance makes all the difference.

Students pay more attention when you dramatise or introduce the idea in a nice way. Let’s see two examples. Which do you think wil make the student pay more attention?

1. OK, Today, I am going to explain Used to, It is used to…. and here are some examples…. Do you understand?Any questions?

2. Ok, folks !! That’s me 10 years ago!! Look at my  hair now!! What colour is it? Do you think it suits me?? Thanks so much !! You’re so sweet! Now I have fair hair but 10 years ago, I used to have dark hair.  What about you? Has anybody changed their hairstyle?? Yes, teacher , I had dark hair too and now I have  red hair!! Ok ! María , so in English you can say ! I used to have dark hair but now  my hair is red.

The second option works much better, trust me on this one!

2. WRITING GAME: I HAVE RETIRED

Target language : Used To to describe past habits or states , contrasted with the  present

Preparation: none

Level :B1/B2

Time: about 15 minutes

Procedure:

Setting  the context. Tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and they are retired . They  are happier in retirement  than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Step 1. Students in pairs or in threes choose the job they used to have.

Step 2. Students will need to produce  four sentences using Used To ,giving clues for the other groups to guess their job .

  • All the sentences must contain ” Used to” in the positive or the negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Step 3. Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important ,at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly . Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points , if it is not ,the second clue will be read for three points.

Example

  • 4 points . I used to work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I used to work after “work”
  • 2 points. I used to use my voice a lot
  • 1 point . I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

3. LEARNING WITH SONGS. Is there a best way to learn?

This is a beautiful song by the Newcastle songwriter James Morrison and it is called Once When I was Little . I used some time ago to talk about Childhood Memories and to revise Used To.  I hope you like it. I love it!

Click here to see how I worked with the song