A great way to learn English is watching a film, but the thing is, how many of us have the time to watch films these days? I mean, I can hardly remember the last time I was able to relax on my settee with this intention, let alone watching one in a foreign language!
Definitely, present-day duties just don’t seem to understand our needs, do they? So, unless we can plug vocabulary, stress patterns and pronunciation into our brains just like those guys did in The Matrix, we’ll need a backup plan.
Why not try listening to music? It’s easy and fun. You can do this, working, cooking, driving, walking the dog, writing or whatever (as long as it doesn’t make you get up and start dancing). Music can also teach us structures that we need to get our tongues around, and a great number of songs have really catchy tunes that we’ll enjoy trying to understand and even learn.
Here I’ve exploited the soundtrack from the movie Up by Disney. The song is I’ll Keep you Safe by Sleeping at last. It´s a wonderful song along with a beautiful video (watch out! It could make you quite emotional! ) and although the title is great for dealing with ‘will’ used for promises, here I’ve exploited it to practise some of the English sounds and to help students become more familiar with phonetic symbols. If you haven’t seen anything about phonetics yet, you may want to brush up a bit on them before doing the activity (you’ll find plenty of introductory activities if you click on the menu Phonetics and English sounds).
Anyway, hope you enjoy the lesson.
PS If you don’t see me around much lately, it’s just that I’m SO STRESSSSSSSSSSSSSEDDDD OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUT!!!!!!!!!!!
The song I have chosen here is a song by Jeff Lynne ‘When I was a boy’ to learn how to speak about the past, the dreams and the hopes we had as children. As the lyrics say, the person singing says that as a boy all he really wanted to do was to pick up his guitar and play music. Money wasn’t important because there were other things that made him happy, like listening to the radio and dreaming about his future.
This song’s real fun! Makes you feel good and strong and ready for almost any of the daily battles we come across.
This song by Katy Perry is about overcoming a bad situation in life, may that be at work, in a romantic relationship or a challenge we had set ourselves and somehow failed to achieve. It is about a person who used to accept a situation, even though she was not happy about it, but one day, felt tired of feeling this way and decided to face her problems and sort them out. I think it’s definitely a very motivational and inspiring song.
The video is quite funny and has used the cliché of Tarzan (King of the Jungle), but in a humerous way, representing the typical things Tarzan did ( like killing crocodiles or any other animal in sight), however, adapting them to the female role represented in the video.
Here I’ve used the video for the purpose of learning some expressions and idioms related to problems and relationships. I hope you enjoy it.
This great song by the British band The Cure really puts one in a happy mood and I must say, that it doesn’t matter how old the song is or how many times you hear it, it’s always smashing. Apparently the song was written in response to press criticism accusing the group of being incapable of writing anything cheerful (if you want to know what the press meant by this, look for their song ‘Lullaby’, even though I don’t agree). The meaning of the song is not clear. Some say it’s about love, some say it’s about enjoying Friday more than being in love with a person they probably meet on this day, and some people even go a bit further in their interpretation (there may be minors reading this post, so I’ll leave this to your own imagination). Whatever conclusion you arrive at, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it anyway. In this Learning English with songs, you can learn a couple of colour idioms and other expressions related to feelings as well as doing some phonetics.
Those that know me well know how much I hate unfair situations, war, greed, etc. For this ‘learning English with songs’ activity I have chosen this powerful song by Five Finger Death Punch (those that know me also know how much I love all types of rock music!). This song is about how veterans of war feel when returning home, with deep feelings of guilt and needing psychological treatment (at the least!), only to encounter a country that has turned its back on them. Thus, this song denounces one of the many destructive effects that war has on people’s lives.
This beautiful, although extremely sad ballad by Kamelot, tells the story of a woman hopefully waiting for her lover who may have died at sea in a shipwreck. Although she feels lost and lonely, she never loses hope and lights a candle every night to guide him back home to her. Why the man went away, is not clear in the lyrics, but the reference to the ‘resounding sirens’ bring to mind something that at first looked tempting, but finally had a tragic outcome.
The song may also be a romantic reference to smuggling, which during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was very common in the British Isles as many were those that at night, risked their lives in an attempt to earn a living.
Anyway, whatever the ballad is about, Kamelot’s vocalist, Roy Khan, has such a wonderful voice that I want to share it with you, so as to bring to mind a bard-like story of remote Ireland.
The British pop/soul band, Simply Red covered this song in 1989 and it became their second best-known hit after reaching number 1 in U.S. The original track was recorded in 1972 by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.
Here the aim of listening to this song is to become aware of the first conditional, which is actually the title of the song. The song also has some very useful expressions related to a romantic relationship between a couple that are arguing. Although it is a very old song, I chose it because it is easy to understand, but as I always say to my students, be careful with some of the expressions that are grammatically incorrect, like double negatives, but are often used in colloquial speech.