A2 · B1 · Listening · songs

Jeff Lynne’s ELO When I Was a Boy

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.

What dreams did you have when you were a child?

B1 · B2 · Idioms · songs

Katy Perry’s Roar

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.

Click here for video and activity

B1 · Listening · phonetics · songs

Friday I’m in Love

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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.

CLICK FOR ACTIVITY

B1 · B2 · Listening · songs

Five Finger Death Punch – Wrong Side Of Heaven

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.

B2 · songs

The Sailorman’s Hymn

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.

I hope you enjoy the song.

A2 · B1 · B2 · songs

If You Don’t Know Me by Now

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.