Tag Archives: song

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 will 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!


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

Preparation: none

Level : B1/B2

Time: about 15 minutes


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.


  • 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

Which is correct ? It sounds good or it sounds well??

What is your bet? Before you go on reading, try to guess which one is correct. Say it aloud! Once again!  Ok! I’m sure your guess is correct!

So, what do you say…

♥ it sounds good or it sounds well?

♥ it feels good or it feels well?

♥ it tastes good or it tastes well?

♥ it smells good or it smells well?

The verbs  in the sentences above are all  verbs of sense; with them, we use the adjective “good“. Using  “well” would be a mistake ( very common, by the way, in non native speakers) but which would  sound weird to native speakers .

But English can’t be that simple, can it? Look at these two examples where both sentences are correct:

♥He looks good-  it means he has a pleasing appearance

♥He looks well- it implies that yesterday he was ill

Anyway, if you have difficulty remembering which one is correct, just sing along  the great James Brown.

Lesson Plan : Money

Level: Intermediate

Step 1.  Warm up

A: Students watch the video. Unless they beg for more, I would just play the first  15 seconds, enough for students to focus on the pronunciation of the word “money” which they tend to mispronounce, and on the chorus Money makes the World Go Round, which students will later need to discuss.

B: This second warm-up is a great one. I got it straight from George Chilton‘s blog Designer Lessons  I copy/paste from him–, which I highly recommend.

Ask your students how they would spend a day in their city/town/village without spending any money. What activities could they do? They’re not allowed to stay at home, they have to be out of the house for the whole day.

Put them in small groups and get them to come up with a plan of the day – from 10 am until 8 pm. Conditions – They are allowed to drink water from city water fountains and any food that they find. They should present their plans at the end of this activity.

Step 2. A Bit of Fun with Translation.

Previous to this exercise students have studied Vocabulary related to money, so now it’s their time to show what they have learned.

Students work in pairs or in threes. To make things easier for me, I’ll provide them with slips of paper so that when the time’s up they can raise it up and I can have a quick check. Sentences with mistakes will be automatically discarded and the correct translations will get one point. Time limit: 90 seconds.

Step 3. Speaking. Speed Dating Technique.

♥Photo and explanation of the technique here 

♥Money Questions here


Using a Song to Revise Vocab Related to Fashion

This song will fit like a glove if you are learning/teaching a Fashion- and- Clothes related semantic field.
This song You Look Good on Me is performed by Natasha Bedingfield, one of my favourite singers, and though I don’t think she had English teachers on her mind when she wrote it, the thing is that it is just perfect for teaching fashion and clothes related vocabulary. So, this is how I am planning to use it with my intermediate students- nothing to write home about, really. I intend to play the song as a revision exercise, so my students will already be familiar with most of the words/expressions in the song.

First and Second Time– they listen to the song twice without seeing the lyrics and in pairs they will have to write down as many words as they identify, related to the above- mentioned semantic field. Students, in turns, say the words or expressions they’ve jotted down and explain them to the rest of the class while I write them on the board for everybody to see.

Once this is done, I’ll write on the board the words/expressions they‘ve missed and ask students to explain the meaning of them.

♥Finally I’ll give them the lyrics or display them with OHP ( we need to save the planet, don’t we? – even though it is a small drop in the ocean, it is still something)

Here’s the song


Here are the lyrics

Da da da da da da
Oo oo oo
Da da da da da da

Goin’ on a shopping spree
Pick something out to look good on me
I want quality
Not quantity
Want a classic
Not a trend
Casual yet still high end
I know what I want
and I’m not afraid to spend

So if you
Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

I’m checking out
Goods on display
Don’t play it safe or too risque
I’m done window shopping
I’m ready to pay
I’m going up
Fifth floor
The best stuff’s in store
Cos that’s where they keep
What every girl would die for

So if you
Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

ahh ahh ahhh
da da da da da da

ahh ahh ooo

Everything’s perfect
When you’re looking through the glass
The colours can fade as seasons pass
This time I wanna, wanna nail them to the mast

Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

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”.


♥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


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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