B1 · B2 · phonetics · songs

Learning English pronunciation with songs: 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!

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!!!!!!!!!!!

Click for the activity

A2 · B1 · Grammar activity

Open cloze: ‘How did you meet your best friend?

After having bent my mum’s ear for about an hour moaning because I had fallen out with a close friend , she turned around and wisely said, ‘People enter your life, for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime.’ Which quite is true, isn’t it?

But even if we do quarrel with a mate or simply lose contact, we also manage to keep some of our friendships alive; despite the different paths life leads us through in an ever-changing world. Sometimes we even manage to organise a get-together, and make up for the lost time remembering the past and talking about future plans and dreams.

If you happen to be one of those lucky people, surely you’ll feel identified with the activity that I have prepared for the purpose of practising the past simple and the past continuous.

These are real-life accounts from buzzfeed.com where I have removed the names and made some adaptations for the purpose of the level.  Maybe, you’d like to enter the aforementioned website, and tell your own story. I’m sure it’ll be a great one. 🙂

Open cloze nº1

open cloze nº2

Open cloze nº 3

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.

Click for listening activity