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!!!!!!!!!!!
When you have a phonetic language like Spanish, for instance, it is quite easy to say the words you have learned from a book or a dictionary because if you know the sounds of each letter you can do quite well when speaking the language and everybody will understand you. But this is not the case with English which for a lot of people seems like a `crazy´language with its own rules. I already mentioned this feature of English in a post on phonetics and here I’m going to mention another feature of English that will also look pretty strange to many language learners, that is, letters that appear in words but should not be pronounced. I have created a slide with some of these letters and a practical activity that you can do if you click on the button below.
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 and Intermediate, 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.
Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem on animal rights and Christmas, is not only thought provoking, but is also put in such a humorous and clever way, that you actually can’t help admiring him as one of Britain’s top post-war writers.
Zephaniah, a dub poet and Rastafarian, once mentioned that his mission was to fight the dead image of poetry and take it to the streets with messages that concerned the daily lives of ordinary people; like you and me.
As an ESL teacher, having the opportunity to introduce students to the culture of my native UK and to poets such as Zephaniah, is really something awesome.
In yesterday’s English class we were talking about the difficulties one can encounter when travelling to a foreign country. Some students mentioned problems such as: jet lag, losing their luggage or missing a flight, among others. When suddenly, one student said ‘That people can’t understand you’. I must say that he was absolutely right! Unfortunately, even if we know the grammar and vocabulary of a foreign language, up to a certain degree, on some occasions, the influence of our L1 can be so strong that people might not understand us or even get the wrong message.
Just for a laugh, watch this video and you’ll get the idea of how a bad pronunciation can have a negative effect on your holidays.
Enjoy or laugh your head off. Whatever you prefer!