Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog! The song, I'm writing about today, "Gravity", is one of my favourite songs, while driving home, after a hard day at work, when I really need to calm down a little. I have often listened it sung by the young British singer Leo Stannard and the Italian pop singer Chiara Galiazzo (hence its popularity here in Italy), but I found out that the original version as well as the videoclip were performed by Stannard with an other British singer, Frances. Moreover I consider this hit appropriate for beginners who want to approach prepositions and phrasal verbs in English or simply revise the present, too.
Sometimes some of my students are taken over by a sudden and unpredictable mood swing: maybe the day after they were peaceful and heedful, whereas the next day they look like somber, inattentive and careless, if not rude, to others' concern. I don't know if the same has happened to you, but in many cases this is due to love woes, which can have a "dramatic" impact not only on my student but on all the other friends he/she has in the class! At times they want to talk about their sufferings and disappointment, but usually they don't and they don't want even join my lesson. What will I do then? Here's my suggestion to create a more relaxing atmosphere in the class, not being too intrusive or regardless their emotional state: "What about us", a song written and sung by the US pop star Pink, which is perfect to understand the sensations one may prove after breaking up, as here you can find lots of words related to feelings. Furthermore this song is also suitable to learn and practice phrasal verbs and colloquial expressions and that's the focus of my activity today.
As soon as you listen to this song, you will find it extremely familiar and that's why it has been chosen as soundtrack for many important events, as suggested by Metrolyrics and Wikipedia. You can use "Best Day of My Life" for any class, no matter your students' level or age, because it can be easily fitted to your needs. In this case I'm putting forward a quick lesson plan on idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs, too, but you could think of other possibilities, as well!
As many ESL learners already know, phrasal verbs and prepositions following verbs can be quite irksome to master and even proficient speakers regularly need to go over them. Today's song "Untouchable" by the British Nick Howard is perfect for this goal! Level: pre-intermediate Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs, prepositions Activity: circle the right option Untouchable Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsmania.com/untouchable_lyrics_nick_howard.html Video:
Let's talk about: my friends and I. 1) Find three adjectives to describe your friends. 2) What is special in friendship? 3)How do you feel, when you are with your friends?
Today's hit, "Hey Brother", is a very popular dance song, backed by a quite interesting video, that explores the themes of friendship and war. Therefore, in presenting this song to your students, we suggest that you would consider to exploit it as a starting point for discussing relevant topics, such as intimate relations, the loss of dear ones, the feelings of separation, the experience of war, etc. etc.
Grammar focus on: prepositions (mainly phrasal verbs)
Activity: fill-in the gaps (prepositions provided)
In dealing with an emotional state- like happiness is- in his song "Happy", the US singer Pharrell Williams makes use of many phrases, which can help young students to learn or otherwise to describe their feelings. Hence our decision to focus our attention on phrasal verbs and phrases that lift our spiritsfor good!
Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs/ phrases
Activity: fill in the gap exercise (items provided)
Speaking activities: 1) List five things (food, activities, films, etc.) that usually lift your spirits. 2) Have you ever felt like hitting the floor?If so, when? 3) What would you suggest to one of your friends if he/she is in low spirits?
Tips for teachers: this song is great to practice synonyms about emotional states. Therefore, you could introduce today's song with flashcards, showing different types of emoticons and then ask your students to describe them to the class. You could also reinforce your students' vocabulary skills, simply by writing down synonyms of some phrases that your students can find in the lyrics. Then ask them to match your items with the corresponding ones in the lyrics.
I came to know "Royals" by the New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, as in Italy it is currently the soundtrack of a very popular TV commercial about smartphones. Therefore I thought that this song could be inspirational for those teachers who aim at discussing the topic- usually loved by students- of advertisement. In my opinion, when it comes to deal with ads, you can direct your attention to many aspects, such as:
the message conveyed by a Tv/radio/web ad from a linguistic or thematic point of view;
the specific vocabulary introduced (i.e. "jingle", "slogan", "commercial", "break", etc.);
the type of music or video chosen by a company (thus stressing upon the importance of pictures, images or lyrics)
etc. Furthermore I believe that in this song the artist Lorde well describes teenagers' feelings about their origins, their limits and their possibilities and their dreams, too. Consequently, you can exploit this song as a good resource to promote your students' 1) listening and comprehension abilities, 2) vocabulary enrichment and 3) awareness of their limits and abilities (metacognition). Level:intermediate and upper-intermediate Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs
Activity: listening and comprehension. 5 exercises are provided (with keys). As a follow-up activity, you can ask your students to create a new commercial about the same smartphone. Divide the class in groups of 4-5 and explain that they have to launch a new commercial via radio. Use a tape recorder to record their performances and only after that, analyse together with the class the negative and positive aspects of their ad. In this case, prepare a greed that can be used as feedback by anyone to value the ad presented by his/her peer impartially.
Tips for teachers: In Italy this song is the soundtrack of this smartphone:
Obviously I am not attaching it to promote it, but just as a hint that can be used in your class as a brainstorming activity. You can elicit your students' expectations, asking them if they already know this commercial or its protagonist. You can also ask them to report the message conveyed by it and I am sure that everyone will be interested in having his/her own say!
Ready to listen to the hit of the moment?I have little doubt that "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk will be particularly cherished by teenagers as well as disco music lovers because it is quite catchy, easy to understand and fresh, isn't it? Level: beginner Grammar focus on: present simple vs. infinitive Activity: fill-in with the correct form of the verbs given between brackets Get Lucky Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/daft-punk-get-lucky-lyrics.html
Linguistic aspects: today I'd like to recommend you this significant site: http://www.idiomeanings.com/idioms/raise-the-bar/ where you will find the sense of the idiomatic expression "let's raise the bars", meaning that you are inviting someone else to set higher standards than the expected ones. An other interesting aspect is related to the expression: "I'm up all night to get lucky", used to say that you are eager to have an occasional sexual intercourse with someone you have just met.
P.S. By the way, don't miss Barack Obamba Singing 'Get Lucky', a hilarious mix of the speeches held by the US president as a parody of the well-known hit:
Jazz and swing notes are clearly "tangled up" in today's song. Caro Emerald is a Dutch singer and her hit "Tangled Up" just gives a taste of what her second album "The Shocking Miss Emerald" (released last 3 May) look like. Let's put our thumbs up then for the success of this young talent! Level: pre-intermediate Grammar focus on: compound forms (phrases and phrasal verbs). Activity: reorder the words given between brackets Tangled Up Lyrics taken from: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Tangled-Up-lyrics-Caro-Emerald/2B87BBC5D937F01B48257B1700390F9F Video:
Tips for teachers: after the listening activity, why don't you ask your students to form small groups and look up in the dictionary for the compound forms met?Subsequently they can write down all the synonyms found by their peers. Linguistic aspects: in reading the lyrics I run into the phrase "playing with your string" which I suppose should have a special meaning here. I meant it as it would say "taking things too far with you", but honestly I am not so positive about it. Therefore any suggestion will be greatly appreciated from you! Today I end this post with the verb "to lance" meaning "to affect someone strongly and immediately".
Who said that breaking up is only a painful experience? In "It's a Beautiful Day" Michael Bublé tells us how much relieved one can feel once his/her love story is eventually over, so happy listening to every "broken heart"! Level: pre-intermediate Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs Activity: listening with fill in the gaps (prepositions) It's a Beautiful Day Lyrics taken from:Direct Lyrics Video:
Tips for teachers: as a warm-up activity, you can write down on the class board a list of synomys of the phrasal verbs presented by the song and ask your students to make predictions. Linguistic aspects: this song describes personal feelings in a very detailed way. For instance, you hold your breath when you see something unexpected in front of you and you are taken by surprise but you have to control yourself. Futher, an other metaphor is used in saying that you tear the seam of someone's dream, i.e. you want to destroy someone's desire. Let's examine the original meaning of the word: in origin a seam isa line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together but once it is removed, the two pieces are no longer joined and that piece of fabric is inevitably torn. The noun is also used in the expressionbursting/ bulging at the seamsmeaning a place full of people or objects. Then you come up with a specific line or you come up with the goods when you do exactly what you promised to do or what people expect you to do. Similarly you get/come/ fall into line with everytime you agree with or you adjust to a precise idea or concept. If you cage someone you keep that person in prison. Here is an example of a verb deriving from a noun: the cage is acontainermadeofwireormetalbarsusedforbirds. In colloquial language a caged bird is someone imprisoned. As for the statements used to introduce an evidence, you can say: "There's no denying that..." when you want to say that "it is clear that../ there is no doubt that/ it goes without saying that...". Finally, after breaking up with someone you can feel refreshed again if you take up or start a new hobby, like going to the gym, a newhabit, like going to the cinema, or a new job.
A very special duo called "Jutty Ranx" has released this song, "I See You", a mix of dance, pop and Caribbean rhythms that I am sure you will appreciate. Such lyrics are captivating and so rich in phrasal verbs and idioms that I couldn't help but choosing them for the below section "Linguistic Aspects"!
Level: intermediate Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs Activity: fill in the gaps (no words provided)
Linguistic aspects : let's separate this section into two parts, one on phrasal verbs and the other on idioms.
To start with phrasal verbs, you break through when you force your way among obstacles.
You see through something when you realize that something is not true and you don't accept to be cheated at all, whereas you see something through (pay attention to the different word order!) every time you continue doing that thing until it is accomplished.
Further, whenever you are trying to catch someone's attention, by annoying or upsetting him/her, you are clearly trying to get to him/her. Also you fall upon something as soon as your eyes are attracted by that and you begin to notice it.
On the contrary you get behind something if you cannot keep pace with it. This phrasal verb is generally used in terms of payments, meaning that you cannot pay regularly.
Finally you look back onsomething(this is an example of a three part phrasal verb) when you think about a person, a place or an event which happened in the past.
Equally important are the idiomatic expressions: who knows what a tunnel vision is? It is a medical condition that causes you to see only what is in front of you. Therefore you give a tunnel vision in case you have a narrow-minded view of life. What happens instead if you die on spot? It implies that you are unluckily dying immediately or right away.
Going further, the expression " You cross the party line"ispronounced when you go against the tide and you oppose the official policy or common opinion of the establishment.
Besides a nice compliment to say to someone is: "You make me moves" if you want to say that he/she is motivating you and further your agenda.
Let's consider then the expression "something comes into focus", used to describe a phenomenon or event that at a certain moment can be seen or understood clearly by anyone.
Besides an interesting pun is "my heart is an open book" that conveys the meaning that it is easy to guess what I am thinking or feeling and later on "You just take it off the shelf": a product is in fact taken off the shelves when it is no longer sold. Here it signifies that my heart is leaping again for you after a long time.
Let's conclude today with the idiom "It doesn't cost a thing/ a fortune/ the earth/ a bomb!" intended as something that you can easily do with no effort or risk of your own.
Bon Jovi is finally back again with a new album, "What about Now", to be released next March. In detail "Because We Can" is the first single of the American band and, what's more, a good chance to propose here a new type of activity. As you know, this blog usually offers listening activities, whereas this time, starting from the subtitled video, we are going to work on a comprehension and vocabulary activity. Enjoy it!
Grammar focus on: vocabulary, colloquial forms, phrasal verbs
Activity: find synonyms in the lyrics, match verbs and prepositions, write the expressions in plain English (+ keys)
Linguistic aspects: you can find lots of words related to willpower in this song. Let's start from the expression "I don't wanna be an other wave in the ocean", i.e. any ordinary person or, in other words, every man jack (informal English).
Secondly, everyone knows that a rock is strong and cannot be easily moved; in factyou can say that someone is as solid as a rock, meaning that he/she is very calm but also strong , or in a single word, sturdy.
Thirdly, when you make an effort to accomplish something almost impossible, you move a mountain/mountains, e.g. Love can move a mountain (see MacMillan Dictionary).
Finally, the word soldier can be both a noun and a verb: in the lyrics it is used as a noun, but you can also find it elsewhere in the pharsal verb tosoldier on, implying that you continue doing something although it is very hard for you.
Right from the title of today's lyrics you will understand that we are going to deal with phrasal verbs, a blessing and a curse for all the ESL learners. I am very proud to present here the third single taken from FUN' s lucky album "Some Nights", thus hoping to keep on working on their next following hits.
Level: upper intermediate
Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs Activity: fill-in the gaps (no items provided)
Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fun/carryon.html
Linguistic aspects: there are many idiomatic expressions in "Carry On" useful to understand and explain human feelings. For instance, you can say that your heart (is) like the 4th July if you want to say that you are extremely happy. Also your head is on fire if you are full of enthusiasm or excitement. Contrary to this, you can go through hell if you are living a rather difficult period. In addition to this and to put it with Bob Dylan's words (see for this "The Time They Are-A Changin' "), you sink like a stone when your life is going downhill (or to the dogs) and you feel like you are failing at all.
Finally, when that people do not listen to each other and are inattentive, you can say that they are miles away.
Do you believe that our personality can be modified through the night? This question was extremely important for the FUN. and therefore, today we analyse their latest hit, "Some Nights", undoubtedly a must for those who really want to test their knowledge about phrasal verbs and prepositions in general. The following activity is particularly addressed to those who want to join the First and Advanced Cambridge examinations. Level: intermediate Grammar focus on: prepositions, phrasal verbs Activity: fill-in-the gap Some Nights Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fun/somenights.html
Linguistic aspects: 1) Originally, the noun hype refers to the great use of advertisements and other publicity influencing people everyday; hence the expression I don't believe the hype meaning that I am not a fool who can be easily deceived. 2) Con (or con man)is the abbreviated form for confidence man, i.e. someone who swindles an other by means of a confidence trick (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/) . Here it is clear that the protagonist doesn't trust his sister's boyfriend at all! 3) A new entry is jack as verb in the expression to jack my style: an informal use, that probably means to raise to a higher level. 4) To conclude, toget one's distance has quite the same meaning of to keep one's distance from somebody/something.
How could I resist to dealing with the Olympic Games just around the corner? So that's the reason why today we are going to listen to Muse's anthem, "Survival". Written by Matthew Bellamy as official song for the London 2012 Olympics, it is going to reach your ears quickly, as it will be broadcast every time the athletes enter the stadium before the medal ceremonies and while the international journalists will be reporting the sport events (Wikipedia explains it very well).
In my opinion this song is simply gorgeous: the more you will listen to it, the more you will love it!
Linguistic aspects: to start with, a race is a competition. You can take your vengeance when someone who has previously tried to harm you or your family becomes finally punished or you wish he/she had become.
You pull someone aheadwhen you do something well or better than him/her.
Generally youkeep up with someone or , as Muse say, you keep up the pace with somebody when you move at the same speed as him/her or, more figuratively, when you learn or make headway at his/her speed.
To end with, it is interesting to focus on I will light the fuse, an expression hat originally refers to the electrical practice to let a string burn slowly before exploding. In the journalistic writing it is used metaphorically every time a dangerous or angry situation is getting worse, however in these lyrics I guess it means simply that you really want to succeed and make all the difference to the other competitors.
Of course I wouldn't get out without posting the link to the extraordinary official London 2012 website: http://www.london2012.com/. Please don't miss the "What's on" section (which I am sure will delight those among you who don't care about sport at all)!
Controversial opinions welcomed Madonna's album, MDNA, as soon as it was released, but her "Turn Up the Radio", a dance-oriented song, has been described as a good song by both her fans and her critics. Once again it gives us the chance to deal with phrasal verbs.
Level: beginner (provided that you are already familiar with colloquial forms, like gotta or wanna)
Linguistic aspects: If you feel like you're going insane it means that you want to escape from reality but you can't do it (see Cambridge Dictionary).
You are sick and tired of something/ somebody when you are completely weary, discouraged, or bored with a situation or person (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/).
Madonna says that she's stuck like a moth to a flame, i.e. a literary expression (more commonly you find to be stuck like moths to flame or like a moth to a candle flame) meaning that you are very attracted by something/someone.
What concept do you have of the simple life? In "Man of Simple Pleasures" Kasabian express the point of view of a plain and simple man, often excluded from our own society. This is a pleasant song rich in idioms and phrasal verbs which we are going to analyse together.
Linguistic aspects: as said above, there are many interesting expressions to focus on. To start with, a measure is the amount of alcohol served by a bar or pub; in this case 'Give me me whisky measures' means 'Try out me! '.
Absolutely new is the figurative 'You throw stick and bones' (Does it come from the idiom'Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me)' ?), meaning perhaps that all humans are wasting their time hurting the feelings of other people.
Reassuring (but also disapproving) is the proverb 'Every dog will have its day', i.e. that everyone, although mediocre, can become famous/rich/ successful once in his/her lifetime at least for one day.
In conclusion let's consider the idiom take sb. for a ride which means 'to fool sb.' or 'to cheat sb.'.
As you already know, I always post the youtube videos that go together with my lyrics but I seldom comment on them. This time I am going to make an exception, since "My kind of love" explores a rather delicate feeling, i.e. taking care of a friend who suffers from cancer. I particularly value these videos that go beyond the simple cliché-ridden happy romantic love affair and I hope you share my enthusiasm in proposing committed and sensitive artists like Emeli Sandé, a true raising star of international music.
Grammar focus on: prepositions (place prepositions + phrasal verbs)
An interesting question to ask is: "What lies behind the title of this song?". At first you may think it's the usual song dedicated to women's beauty, but it isn't. It contains a subtle recommendation: never forget where you are from and whom you grew up with!