Learning English with songs

Audioslave Be Yourself

Created by blogdeserena

B1 B2 Listening Be Yourself by Audioslave

You are going to hear a song by Audioslave, Be Yourself

Listen and fill in the gaps with the word(s) you hear.

Activity by Serena

Someone ___to pieces
Sleeping all alone

Someone __ the pain
Spinning in the silence
She finally drifts away

Someone ___ excited
In a chapel yard
Catches a bouquet

Another __a dozen
White roses on a grave

And be yourself is all that you can do
To be yourself is all that you can do

Someone___ salvation in everyone
Another only pain
Someone tries to hide themself
Down inside himself he prays

Someone __ their true love
Until the end of time

Another __ away
separate or united?
Healthy or insane?

And be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do)
To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do)
To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do)
Be yourself is all that you can do

Even when you've __ enough
Been pulled apart
Or been held up
Every single memory of
The good or bad, faces of love

Don't lose any sleep tonight
I'm sure everything will end up alright
You may ___/__ /___

But to be yourself is all that you can do
To be yourself is all that you can do
To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do)
To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do)
To be yourself is all that you can
Be yourself is all that you can
Be yourself is all that you can do

Avicii Feeling Good

Good morning! Today’s Monday and many of you may feel tired and not very motivated by the thought of starting a new week, but the funny thing is that some of us feel happy and full of energy because during the weekend we had time to think and plan new projects and Monday is the perfect day to set them to work. While I was writing an email, this song started playing on my computer and I thought that was just perfect to set people in a positive mood or sort of explain the feeling you have when you are happy and want to shout it out to the world. It’s another of Avicii’s wonderful songs Feeling Good. The lyrics deal with present simple, present continuous and vocabulary related to the natural world, so it’s suitable for students from A2 to B1 although you may want to see the pre-listening list of vocabulary below before doing the listening activity.

Vocabulary list

Breeze /bri:z/ = a soft wind – blossom /ˈblɒs.əm/= flowers on trees that become fruit – Dawn /dɔːn/= a period in the day just before the sun rises. Dragonfly  /ˈdræɡ.ən.flaɪ/ = large insect with four transparent wings that flies over water and can be of different colours like green or red. Butterflies (singular butterfly)  /ˈbʌt.ə.flaɪ/= an insect with large brightly coloured wings.

Avicii – Hey Brother

I posted this song as one of the first activities on the blog. Today, sadly, we no longer have Avicii among us. RIP Avicii

I love this song  because it talks about the special bond that exists between brothers and sisters. Although I must say that I always find it very hard to watch the video because it makes me quite sad. Even so, I think it’s a great song where you can learn expressions related to daily life problems and relationships. There are two different activities, the first link is for basic levels and the second link is for intermediate.

Here is a listening activity that aims to train the listening skill of basic and of low intermediate students so it doesn’t have an exam format.

Level A2

Billie Eilish Lovely COVER

Cliff Richard & The Shadows – Summer Holiday

This is a good song for the present continuous and vocabulary related to holidays and having a good time. The first activity is a jumbled sentence listening and the second activity is a sentence completion. Level A1/A2

The Cure – Friday I’m in Love

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. There are different activities for this song. The first two are for basic levels, to learn days of the week and discriminate sounds. An intermediate level is for learning some colour idioms as well as filling the blanks with missing vocabulary from different fields.

David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World

Here’s a song written by David Bowie back in the 70s that became very famous again when Nirvana performed their fantastic cover of it. It was hard for me to decide which version to use, because I love both of them, but since very few people know that Bowie wrote it, I eventuallydecided to use this one. The aim of this activity is to become familiar with the relative pronoun ‘who’ and to practise simple past verbs. There are two versions, one with the verbs in brackets and the second one without the verbs.

David Bowie – Heroes

Another incredible song by David Bowie (Did he ever do anything that was not worth while?). This song is for revising vocabulary from different topics dealt with in intermediate levels. It’s also a great way to hear a good sample of ‘will’ for future use as the song deals with a posssible future situation, where two people are involved, probably in being themselves, against all the odds. I hope you enjoy the activity.

This activity is also a homage to my brave students that come to classes despite having to almost freeze to death due to that classes must be held with all the windows open at that there will always be a risk of catching this virus that threatens to change our lives in such a drastic way.

Don McLean – Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)

This beautiful tribute to Vincent Vangogh provides us with the opportunity to learn and practise vocabulary related to the art world and nature.

Level C1

ELO – When I Was a boy

This is a great song for beginners to get used to hearing the simple past.

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?

Level A2

Five Finger Death Punch

The Wrong Side of Heaven

In this sing you will have to select the best option for the missing parts of the lyrics. Level Intermediate.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole- Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World

In no other way could I have started creating and uploading blog entries for this year, rather than placing this beautiful cover from Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole and his soothing ukele. It’s a song of hope, to which we all relate to during these times of troubles and worries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s even more than a song of hope: It’s a conviction, that somewhere, there is a better and more beautiful place where humans will find comfort and their problems will melt away like lemon drops. I really hope that some day soon, we find that hidden rainbow.

For this post I’ve set two listening activities where beginners can fill in the gaps with the words they hear. The first button is for verbs and the second button is the same song, but this time filling in the gaps with missing nouns.

JJ Halle Don’t Give Up Too Soon

Probably the most devastating problem in modern society is loneliness, which is even worse for the elderly. John Lewis Christmas advert aims to raise awareness of this situation. Hopefully, this touching ad will not only tug at people’s heartstrings, but will also make people understand how much we need each other, especially now in a year so full of isolation and anxiety.

Levels: A2, B1, B2

Created by blogdeserena

B1-B2 Listening Don't Give Up Too Soon

You are going to hear a song by JJ Heller, Don't Give Up Too Soon

Listen and fill in the gaps with the word(s) you hear.

Activity by Serena

The night is not so___

When you know how to fly

But when your wings are __
You start praying for the light
You start praying for the light
Please keep waiting for the __
Don't give up too soon

Jesus cares for every sparrow
I know he cares ____

Oh please, don't give up too soon

When you're left out in the open
You feel every drop of __

From every ___ that passes
Every hour of the day

Please keep waiting for the morning
Don't give up too soon
Jesus cares for every sparrow
I know he cares for you
Oh, please don't give up too soon

When it feels like you've __
To the bottom of a well

Oh, there is nothing ___
Than calling out for help
Please keep waiting
Hope is coming
Don't give up to soon
Jesus cares for every sparrow
I know he cares for you

Oh, please don't give up too soon
He __ with you
Don't give up too soon

Kamelot – A Sailorman’s Hymn

I’ve have removed ten words related to the natural world from the lyrics of this beautiful song. As a pre-listening activity you can do the crossword that you will find below. The crossword was made on http://www.theteachercorner.net

Level B2

Katy Perry – 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.

Madonna – Holiday

Level A1/A2

Madonna – This Used to Be My Playground

This song by Madonna talks about a precious time in life, before reaching adulthood, when life did not have the complexities, that unfortunately seem to come into existence as one gets older.  It’s a good way to practise the structure ‘used to be’ to speak about things that belonged to the past and no longer happen. In this activity you will also have the opportunity to brush up on other structures that use ‘used to’.

Level B1-B2

Muse – Uprising

Muse image from Wikipedia

I love this song! Gives one such a feeling of power recharges batteries. Maybe you like it as much as I do, so you might enjoy doing this listening activity and at the same time, finding out the meaning of some idioms and synonyms. First do the pre-listening activity and after you can do the sentence completion.

Pink Floyd Bike

This is a really hilarious song performed by Syd Barret. It’s a sort of wierd love song where the boy is wooing a girl offering her the few things that he has and sharing stories and facts about his daily life with her. The end of the song is quite scary and I can’t help wondering if the girl didn’t turn out to be the best company or ‘the type of girl that fits into his world’. I’m aware that some blog visitors will think me completely bonkers for using this song and that my students may even think that I’ve knocked my head on some hard surface (well I actually did a couple of months back, so that might explain everything!). Anyway, I think this song is absolutely fab for low levels and it’s SO English!

The Police – Message in a Bottle

This is a pre-listening activity for B1 levels of English although lower levels could also answer the questions related to future tenses.
The aim of the activity is to brush up on future tenses and to learn new vocabulary as well as revising vocabulary that is often confused.
Once this activity has been completed, you can do the listening activity. Level B1

Simply Red – 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 in the title of the song. You will also be able to revise some of the vocabulary from A2 such as personal adjectives and pronouns among some of the most important content. The song also has some very useful expressions  related to a romantic relationship between a couple that are having an argument. 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.

Level A2

Sleeping at last – I’ll Keep You Safe

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!

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).

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.

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!!!!!!!!!!!

Three Days Grace – I Am Machine

Three Days Grace Image from Wikipedia

Here’s a sad song by this heavy rock band that was formed during the 90s. First do the pre-listening activity for idioms, phrasal verbs and dependent prepositions that appear in the song.

Pre-listening task

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