Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Script- "Six Degrees of Separation"

As many psychological studies report, everyone of us is connected to anyone else by six degrees of separation. Incidentally, I came to know it by listening to The Scripts' "Six Degrees of Separation", where after the end of a relationship, it is said that one goes through six degrees of separation from his/ her former partner. I hope you will love this song, like I do, because it explores the theme of separation with a great variety of expressions, tones and feelings that are those normally involved in such difficult situations by common people!

Level:  pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary


Activity: scrambled syllables to put in order

Six Degrees of Separation

Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/the_script/six_degrees_of_separation.html

Video:



Linguistic aspects: when do you take a toke?You take a toke or you toke on, when you pull on a cigarette, made of cannabis or tobacco. 

You can heal your soul, if you try to make your sorrow less painful.When a relationship is over, you feel that it goes up in smoke. Literally, it means that a place or an object is destroyed by fire, but if related to a plan, it comes to nothing. Ex. I wanted to leave early for Rome, but getting up at 10 a.m. it went up in smoke.
When you break up with someone, you can feel the world splits down the middle or collapse/ break down.
Additionally you find/achieve/bring closure, i.e. you understand that something unpleasant has come to an end. 
How can you react to it?You can fake a smileor smile in a false way, but in the end you have to fix yourself, that is to say that you need to make arrangements and organize your life back again.
Who can help you in this process? The Script mention tarot cards, gems and stones because they can predict your future, but only, I would add, if you really believe in magic powers... 



Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Handsome Poets- "Sky on Fire"

Today I am working on "Sky on Fire" a fresh song sung by a Dutch Indie pop band, The Handsome Poets. Their video is rather captivating and I guess that if you are going to use it in your class, your students will appreciate it. You can easily introduce it to your students, for instance, by simply asking them if they have ever played truant in their life and if so, how they have spent the day out and eventually whether their parents found out their bravado...

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary about travelling

Activity: fill in the gaps exercise

Sky on Fire

Lyrics taken from: http://www.metrolyrics.com/sky-on-fire-lyrics-handsome-poets.html

Video: 



Linguistic aspects: let's start from the double meaning of the world siren. a) You can hear the loud sound of a siren coming from a police car, i.e. the piece of equipment generally used to warn people, or b) A siren is a beautiful woman who enchants men (a creature of Greek mythology).


An interesting expression is to lose track: You can say that you lost your track while you were reading a catchy book on the Tube if you really did not pay attention to where you were going to or what the others were doing around you.

Kids is an informal word for plain English children.

Besides, when you are going to do something that someone else is doing, you take over with it; e.g. He left for New York and we took over with him.


Last of all, you can say that stakes were high if you were going to do something extremely risky where a lot could be won or lost. In fact, the word stakes (the plural of stake) is a financial term used to indicate the amount of money risked on the result of a game, investment or competition.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bruno Mars- "Locked out of Heaven"

As you will already probably know, Bruno Mars' music displays a wide range of styles and influences from different cultures and what's more his lyrics are quite simple to understand and teenagers learn them at once! His latest "Locked out of Heaven" surprises me, because according to rapgenius it has a two-way interpretation: one religious and the other rather sexual. In this case I am focusing only on the figurative expressions that every ESL learner should get familiar with!
Incidentally I found out a very innovative and capturing site, http://rapgenius.com/, a sort of hip-hop wikipedia, where community members try their hand at interpreting mainly hip-hop songs. If you wish to get the sense of hits playing in your MP3 favourite list,  you can't miss it!

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus onmake + someone+ infinitive


Activity:  gap fill activity (no prompts provided)


Locked out of Heaven

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/brunomars/lockedoutofheaven.html

Video: 



Linguistic aspects: there is a lot to say about the expressions and the phrasal verbs used in this song. Let's start from the expression I put my heart on the line, where  on the line means at risk
Let's continue with the refrain I've been locked out of heaven, that is to say that I have been excluded from heaven.
In addition, when someone brings you to his/her knee, he/she has reduced you in a deep state of submission. Ex.  I loved Tom, but he brought me to his knee and I completely lost my independence.
Let's  end up with the expression I see the light, i.e. a metaphor used to express that finally I realize/understand something that will change my life for goodEx. When I broke up with Tom, I saw the light and I revolutionized my life.






Friday, 23 November 2012

Robbie Williams- "Candy"

Robbie William's "Candy" is so challenging for any linguist, that I am sure I am not the only one to have studied and revised it many times over the last three months. It is rich in metaphors, proverbs and references to past events, places and high class social life that everyone will enjoy it!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

Activity: circle the right synonym and then look up in the dictionary

Candy

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/robbie-williams-candy-lyrics.html

Video: 



Tips for teachers: why don't you ask your students to do a drawing or a caricature of our posh Candice?

Linguistic aspects: as everyone knows from his/her childhood candy includes sweets and confectionery and it is so loved by children. The lyrics spread out it, so that a girl made of candy is usually referred to someone so sweet and romantic to be considered naive. But, secondly,  if you go to a party hand in hand with a good-looking person, you are not in love with, you take an arm candy with you. Thirdly, when you look at someone or something that catches your attention but it is not interesting or useful, it turns out to be an eye candy.

Going back to the song, a nice expression is " there's a hurricane in the back of her throat", meaning that this girl wants to keep something secret but, unfortunately for her, this something is widely known by everyone else.

"The bush is high but in the hole there's water" is an original proverb coined (I guess) by Mr Robbie Williams himself. Here it intends that parents shouldn't panic if their children spread their wings and make mistakes. They will eventually recover from them!

A father who beats the system is someone who has made a name of himself, breaking the rules or elbowing his way with smart ideas. You can see that there is a clear reference to a stereotyped British entrepreneur and to a famous Hollywood blockbuster, "The War Of The Roses". The war of the roses (also an historical fight between two  royal English families) is nowadays an ironic way to describe a marriage as violent and problematic.

In the final, how can we explain what the Hollywood love looks like? It must be absolutely a dreamlike love story, which takes your breathe away like an old black-and-white Hollywood tear-jerker!


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Adele- "Skyfall"

I could not evade proposing the theme song taken from James Bond's latest sequel , "Skyfall", performed by the fabulous Adele. I have not watched the movie so far but if you are interested in working on this song, you will find lots of interesting suggestions on these links (posted on The English Blog):
skyfall-premiere 
and
skyfall-product-placement-lesson.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

Activity:  first watch the video and read the text on it and then find the synonyms.

Skyfall

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/adele-skyfall-007-theme-lyrics.html

Video: 


Linguistic notes: what is the meaning of the word "Skyfall"? It has been debated by many web sites whether it is a single noun or a noun + verb. As you probably remember,  James Bond was born at Skyfall Lodge and here the film's finale is set. Therefore, although I see that the text plays with the double meaning of the world itself, I'd definitely go with the first option.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Fun - "Carry On"

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)

Carry On

Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fun/carryon.html

Video:



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.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Skunk Anansie- "I hope you get to meet your hero"

What is a "black traffic"?It's hard to say, but I guess that Skunk Anansie chose this title to leave behind a sad period of their own career (as one of their musicians passed away) and start a new adventure on their own, releasing their new album with an independent record label.Therefore I wish good luck to this British band, may they carry on playing good music as they have done so far!

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: prepositions 

Activity:  fill-in (items provided)

"I hope you get to meet your hero"

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.songlyrics.com/skunk-anansie/i-hope-you-get-to-meet-your-hero-lyrics/

Video:


Ideas for teachers: students love talking about their favorite actors, singers, writers, etc.You can introduce today's lyrics by asking your class to mention some current outstanding political leaders, VIPs, sportsmen, etc. 

As a follow-up activity, it would be advisable to propose a written description of one of their heroes, too.

Linguistic aspects: the language of today's song is rich in words related to health and sorrow.
Let's start from the verbs. Get in "I hope you get to meet your hero" has the same meaning as "manage to meet" or "succeed on meeting".
Usually a storm churns a bay when it moves vigorously on a place or your stomach churns when you feel worried and nervous. In this case tears make the person feel upset and torn inside.
You slew (< to slay) the dream means that you destroyed my dream.
Besides if she never tears your heart out, you are saying that she doesn't make you suffer. 
Sanity (the opposite is insanity) refers to a medical condition of good mental health. When you lose your sanity, you risk going insane or crazy or mad.

To sum up, an interesting expression is "I hope you get to choose your weapons". You have to choose your weapons, when you are provoked and have to defend yourself, thinking of a strategy to defeat your enemies. So Lock and load, my friends (go to http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/61/messages/230.html)!

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Lumineers- "Ho Hey"

Listen to this song only once and it won't get out of your head anymore!The Lumineers are an innovative US band promoting a simple style (see for instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Lumineers) that is "simply" catchy!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: present perfect continuous

Activity: put the verbs into the correct form of present perfect continuous


Ho Hey

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Ho-Hey-lyrics-The-Lumineers/669FAB16FAB5BA5848257A27005E2691

Video:


Note for teachers:
  • if you are looking for an activity involving physically your class, you can form groups and ask them to rehearse the video of the song on their own using a video camera. They can as well add the lyrics (through karaoke or bubbles, etc.).
  • An other interesting activity is to start your lesson from Bing's commercial so as to elicit the song's theme:

Linguistic aspects:  let's start from the places listed in the song. Chinatown is a famous district in New York. Here you can find the Canal and Bowery thoroughfare mentioned in the lyrics, i.e. a special place for those lovers who want to buy engagement rings, etc. (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/331476634/).
And now let's pass and finish with two verbs used in an unusual way:
  • to bleed out means to bleed to death. So if you bleed out, you are going to die of exsanguination (for this medical term see http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-bleeding-out.htm).
  • To belong to expresses possession, but in this song you will listen to the sentence: "You belong with me", a romantic way to say that "You can go together with me" or  "You are right for me".

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Kate Perry- "Wide Awake"

Today's song will guide you through Kate Perry's fantastic world, as "Wide Awake" starts from her live performance to go to a younger version of herself, but only if you watch the "The Making Of...", which I'm going to post, you will appreciate it for once!

Level: intermediate


Grammar focus on: adjectives


Activity: gap fill (no items provided)


Wide Awake

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.lyricsfreak.com/k/katy+perry/wide+awake_21005238.html

Video: 


Linguistic aspects: let's pay attention to the idioms of "Wide Awake". Firstly, if you are on cloud nine, you are extremely happy. On the contrary, you are in a dangerous, threatening and unpleasant situation when you find yourself in the lion's den (literary a den is a shelter or lair for animals). 

Secondly, one is in the dark when he/she is in a state of ignorance (the opposite is to see clearly).
Thirdly, you can replace the expression with an open heart with the adjective open-hearted, meaning that someone is willing to express his feelings spontaneously.

Lastly, click on the following  "The Making Of" if you wish to improve your listening and learn more idioms, as well: 





Friday, 19 October 2012

Muse- "Madness"

I confess that I am extremely delighted every time a new song by Muse is broadcast on air as a new hit, because I think that this band exceeds in speaking about complex situations and feelings in a very simple way. Take for instance the video of "Madness": it will capture your imagination because it is set in a rather contemporary urban landscape, where a few colours, like blue, yellow and green prevail over the primary ones. What's more, from a linguistic point of view, the text is accessible even to beginner students!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: verbs

Activity: predictions and fill in the gaps

Madness

Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/m/muse/madness_21025326.html

Video: 



Linguistic aspects: The song offers many examples of phrasal verbs, but there are also other useful phrases to focus on.
Let's start from I have finally seen the light, i.e. a metaphor used when you realize or understand something after a prolonged thought or doubt (see the Oxford Dictionaries' entry) or you undergo a religious conversion. 
Then a situation keeps sb. afloat (afloat literaly means floating in water) when one feels that he/she is out of debt or difficulty.
Last, but not at least, let's consider the verb capture. As said above something can capture one's imagination or attention if it fascinates him/her; this is Formal English (being the verb to catch more commonly used in everyday language) and if you want to know more about the origin of this word, please go to: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/capture?q=capture.



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Alicia Keys- "Girl on Fire"

Welcome back to one of the most gifted contemporary singers, Alicia Keys and her "Girl On Fire"! The key word of our song today is absolutely "fire" and its connotations, therefore get ready to know more about it!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on:  present/ present continuous 

Activity:  put the verbs within brackets into the correct form.


Girl on Fire

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/alicia-keys-girl-on-fire-lyrics.html

Video: 


Linguistic aspects: to be on fire literary means burning; here this expression is referred to an unstoppable flow of emotions and feelings. Likely to it, I walk on fire means that I am ready to go through any dangerous situation. If I get my head in the clouds, I am absent-minded and perhaps I don't even know the facts of a situation. Opposite to it, if I get my feet on the ground, I am a very practical person and I see things as they clearly are. Finally, when you back down (Phrasal verb), you admit that you were wrong or that you have been defeated and, consequently, you are ready to retrace your steps.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pink- "Raise Your Glass"

Pink's lyrics usually give me a thrill but this one seems like an energetic drink not only for its rhythm but also because it has a very interesting text from a linguistic point of view. By the way, Urban Dictionary has proved to be an excellent tool to understand the US slang and colloquial terms of the song and hereafter I will often refer to this updated dictionary written by a very large community that you can also emjoy and/or follow via Facebook and Twitter. So here's my suggestion to you: don't lose time, add it among your favourite online dictionaries!

Level: upper-intermediate / advanced

Grammar focus on: adjectives

Activity: circle the right option exercise

Raise Your Glass

Lyrics taken from: http://www.metrolyrics.com/raise-your-glass-lyrics-pink.html

Video:


Linguistic aspects: let's start right from the title of the lyrics, "Raise Your Glass", i.e. an invitation to drink together with someone and celebrate his/her success, happiness, health, etc. What's a dealeo? Urban Dictionary explains that is an Idaho expression for closing a tupper ware sales.
Let's pass now to informal expressions: if you are underdogs, it means here that you have little money and you feel depressed. The nitty-gritty is a detail that you have to specify. Besides the word gangster is here used to make reference to an illitterate inhabitant of a downtrodden ghetto who hangs around in gangs.
In conclusion let's analyse an idiomatic expression: if you are too school for cool you are very committed and prefer education or work over social life and friends.

If you want to know more about other informal expressions, please go to www.urbandictionary.com

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Of Monsters and Men- "Little Talks"

Many literary and folk echoes run through Of Monsters and Men's debut single, "Little Talks". Let me know what their video and their lyrics suggest to you...

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: present continuous

Activity: fill-in-the gaps

Little Talks

Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsmania.com/little_talks_lyrics_of_monsters_and_men.html

Video:


Linguistic aspects: to play tricks means to deceive sb. . If you hang around (and that's not often a compliment for you!) you are spending your time in a place waiting or doing nothing...Sometimes someone may ask you what you are doing special that day and if you answer: "I' m just hanging around" you are underlining the fact that you are relaxing yourself. Teenagers usually hang around on Friday or Saturday evening, i.e. they go out and move from one place to another without any specific purpose. In the expression "All that's left is a ghost of you"  the metaphor is used to describe that you bear very little of a person, or the things you shared together with, in your mind.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen- "Call Me Maybe"

Hi everyone and welcome back to school!If you want to get back again to your activities with calm and joy I absolutely recommend you to watch the video of this song for its original ending....

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: simple present

Activity: put the verbs given between brackets into the correct form (simple present)

Call Me Maybe

Lyrics from:

Video:

 
Linguistic aspects: to trade one's soul for a wish has almost the same meaning as to sell one's soul, i.e. to be keen on doing almost anything to get something. A dime is an American and Canadian ten cents' coin.
The verb to chase is here used with the special meaning of trying to get someone to have a sexual relationship with oneself.
Last but not at least, if you want to know more about the origins of the expression to throw a wish in the well, then have a look at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wishing_well !

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

FUN.- "Some Nights"

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

Video:



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, to get one's distance has quite the same meaning of to keep one's distance from somebody/something.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Muse- "Survival"

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!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions


Activity:  fill-in-the gap (pool of items provided)

Survival

Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/m/muse/survival_21025228.html

Video:


"Survival" was premiered last 27th June on BBC Radio 1 followed by  Zane Lowe's  interview to Muse available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOFDYWGzRwI

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 ahead when you do something well or better than him/her.
Generally you keep 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)!










Friday, 6 July 2012

Madonna - "Turn Up the Radio"

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)

Grammar focus on: prepositions and phrasal verbs

Activity:  circle the right option


Lyrics taken fromhttp://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/madonna/turnuptheradio.html

Video:




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. 


Do you want to know something more about the origins of this saying? Then check out the following link: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/232050.html

Monday, 25 June 2012

Kasabian- "Man of Simple Pleasures"

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.

Level: pre-intermediate, intermediate

Grammar focus on: prepositions

Activity: fill-in-the gap

Man of Simple Pleasures

Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kasabian/manofsimplepleasures.html

Video:


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.'.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Emeli Sandé- "My kind of love"

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.


Level: intermediate


Grammar focus on: prepositions (place prepositions + phrasal verbs)


Activity: My kind of love

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/emeli-sande-my-kind-of-love-lyrics.html


Video:




Linguistic aspects: commonly  you promise sb. the Earth/ the moon  when you say  that you will do much greater things than you will ever be able to achieve (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/promise-sb-the-earth-moon?q=promise+earth#promise-sb-the-earth-moon__1), but in the lyrics you find  promise sb. the stars. 


In addition to this, you hear that  sb. keeps one's heart protected, far away from his/her sleeve, meaning the opposite of wearing/having your heart on your sleeve, i.e. you make your feelings obvious to other people (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/heart#wear-have-your-heart-on-your-sleeve)


To conclude "Don't ever question if..."  is a strong recommendation that warns your addressee not to have or express doubts about st. you are saying or feeling.



Monday, 18 June 2012

Alanis Morissette- "Guardian"

It's always a great pleasure to me whenever I can propose artists, whose lyrics have inspired me so much throughout my life. This time we are working on "Guardian", a lovely song by one of my favorite singers, Alanis Morissette. This song is interesting not only for its grammar content, but also for its vocabulary that offers me the opportunity to launch a new section of my blog, i.e. Linguistic Aspects. Here you will find some explanations about the new words, idioms and synonyms/contraries introduced by the lyrics. I am sure you will enjoy it!

Level: intermediate/ upper intermediate

Grammar focus on: interrogative pronouns, relative pronouns

Activity: fill- in- the gap exercise (no pool of clues suggested)

Guardian

Lyrics taken from: //www.directlyrics.com/alanis-morissette-guardian-lyrics.html


Video:




Linguistic aspects: The comparison as solid as a fog is not mentioned anywhere. You know perhaps as solid as a rock , but in the lyrics it has the meaning of confusing, difficult to understand (look up at FOG in http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/fog). 


The adjective crestfall may stand for crestfallen, i.e. sad and disappointed. 


Equal meaning for on call, on demand in the sense of on request.
To conclude, the song introduces three words with almost similar meanings, but be careful:

  • a watchman/watchwoman (especially night watchman) guards a building especially at night;
  • a guardian is a person or organisation that protects something or someone (e.g. guardian angel) or someone who looks after children with no parents;
  • a warden is a person who checks that the rules of a precise building are respected (the head of a school, college or prison, etc.).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

John Legend- "Tonight"

Colloquial language plays an important role in lyrics and quite common students get familiar faster with forms, like ain't, gotta, wanna, rather than those of plain standard English. It's part of the dilemma of many ESL teachers: shall I teach informal English or let my students find out on their own?Nice question, let me know what you usually do!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: colloquial English


Activity:  Tonight


Lyrics taken from: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1L-di1hVV_T9d2fDTSxTwJFdxGCpXJoztoFTInBRlVcE/edit?pli=1


Video:

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Scissor Sisters- "Only the Horses"

Are you ready to revise all the English verbal forms? Right then, you are at the right place!"Only The Horses" offers you the chance to work not only on comphrehension, but also on the ability to recognise different tenses. In this case you don't need to check your results against the original lyrics (although I post the link all the same to!) but simply open your grammar book or go to the links recommended on the right ban of this blog.
I hope you enjoy this activity :-)

Level: intermediate

Grammr focus on: revision of tenses

Activity: Only The Horses

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/scissor-sisters-only-the-horses-lyrics.html

Video:




Cultural hints: to understand the importance that horses have always had in the British culture, have a look at: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/horse where you' ll find lots of idiomatic expressions related to this animals!


Young The Giant- "My Body"

Today I' m glad to propose "My Body", the second extract of Young The Giant's latest album, which has been appealing to everybody all around the world in the last months. Despite its easy content, I am dealing with a hostile grammar  topic for ESL learners, i.e. the different use between subject personl pronouns and personal adjectives.

Level: beginner/pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: subjetc personal pronouns vs. personal adjectives

Activity: My Body


Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsmania.com/my_body_lyrics_young_the_giant.html

Video:





Monday, 14 May 2012

Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa - "Payphone"

"Payphone" is a catchy song with a very interesting video, that allows you to practice your English, while singing along. In this case I am focusing on adjectives so that you can reinforce your vocabulary and learn new synonyms.

Level: upper- intermediate, advanced

Grammar focus on: adjectives

Activity: Payphone

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/maroon-5-payphone-lyrics.html

Video:

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Coldplay feat. Rihanna- "Princess of China"

This collaboration has been welcomed with many reservations but, in my opinion, it is about an original contemporary fairytale with an absolutely unconventional ending, i.e. the right song to revise the past tenses:-(

Level: upperintermediate

Grammar focus on: past tenses

Activity: Princess of China

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/coldplay-princess-of-china-lyrics.html

Video:

Friday, 27 April 2012

Rebecca Ferguson- "Glitter & Gold"

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!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: prepositions, phrasal verbs

Activity: Glitter & Gold

Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rebeccaferguson/glittergold.html

Video:



Cultural hint: like may other fresh singers, even Rebecca Ferguson joined in the UK version of  "X- Factor" and she went through two different auditions before being admitted! Eventually in 2011 she was one of the two finalists of the talent show but, unfortunately, she didn't win the competition! As you can read in this interview she didn't want to play on the sob-story of  her modest childhood: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/11/25/exclusive-x-factor-finalist-rebecca-ferguson-s-family-on-the-childhood-that-encouraged-her-to-become-a-star-100252-27711765/2/

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lisa Hannigan- "What I' ll do"

"What I 'll do " is the latest success of a talented and sensitive Irish promise, Lisa Hannigan, who has also campaigned for Oxfam International and Aware. In this lyric she explores the theme of separation from someone beloved.

Level: preintermedaite

Grammar focus on: vocabulary and spelling

Activity: What I'll do

Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lisahannigan/whatllido.html

Video:



Cultural hints: If you want to know more about Lisa Hannigan's social commitment read about Oxfam's Make Trade Fair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Trade_Fair) and watch her performance  at  the "Festival of World Cultures 2008" :




To get more information about Oxfam's and Aware's mission, go to http://www.oxfam.org/  and http://www.aware.ie/