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!!!!!!!!!!!
Is it actually true that the British spend a lot of their time talking about the weather, or this just another one of those beliefs like ‘we have to have tea at five on the dot or we’ll go bananas ’, sort of stuff ? And, if it is true, is this feature shared by other cultures?
Well, I must say that we are particularly fond of talking about the weather, although I would also say that it’s a common topic of conversation in Spain too. However, what I do seem to notice is that people from these countries have a different way to approach this subject even when both typically use it as an icebreaker.
Where I live, people usually make exclamations about it. Sort of like ‘Vaya frio! Where a Brit would most probably make a tactfully brief statement of one or two words and polish it off with a question tag, ‘Cold, isn’t it?
Looking into this aspect of British culture, I found this really interesting article that I’ve used to create a word formation activity for higher levels of English (C1 more or less).
The article is from the BBC by Linda Geddes
Read the text and focus on each blank using the words in brackets. The missing words are either adjectives or adverbs as the focus here is to practise with the different types of prefixes (yes, there are a couple of negative ones), and suffixes used to form these words.
Looking for some authentic stuff for my teaching syllabus, I came across the Website ‘Never liked it anyway’. This website was set up as a mean by which broken-hearted people could get rid of their pain by actually selling a ‘reminder’ of their split up relationships as well as offering them the chance to emotionally cleanse feelings by telling the story that is behind the object they wish to flog.
Many were the stories I read, but there was one that really caught my eye and provoked a spasmodic burst of laughter I found impossible to repress. As a woman who cannot believe that individuals of this type should be able to climb so high up on the social ladder, and as a woman who constantly feels insulted by his utter stupidity, misogynist interventions and vulgarity, I feel I must do ‘my bit’.
I never liked him anyway. What’s more, I think he’s absolutely loathsome. But what worries me most, isn’t that this person finds no limit in vomiting outrageous content, but the fact that he rules a democratic country and is supported by a group of people who obviously find him amusing and applaud his ‘interventions’ by giving him pats on the back along with chokes of laughter.
If we allow somebody (especially somebody in power), to insult a person who has been emotionally or sexually abused, or look the other way when he’s mocking an impaired journalist, and refuse to acknowledge his constant curbing of human rights, we are showing the symptoms of a sick civilisation, the very one we sustain as an icon of the ethical and cultural heritage we feel so proud of.
These are no longer the times of the Roman Empire and their bloody violent circuses. Neither should political meetings be modelled on WWE RAW. He has got it all wrong and fortunately, there are many that are willing to point this out in some way or other. Someone called yesimserious wrote a post on Never Liked it anyway, and because I fully agree with the content and absolutely love her/his witticism, I’ve turned the entry into a word formation activity for my blog.
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. 🙂
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 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.