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)!