Monday, 28 January 2013

Rihanna- "Diamonds"

The song that I'm going to talk about today is "Diamonds" by Rihanna. Namely I can assure you that it can wink at many teenagers, who have just started to study English, especially if they want to practice the basic rules of the English grammar. In fact, the song is quite simple, except for one expression, which will be analysed in the section Linguistic Aspects.

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: simple present, imperative

Activity: put the letters into the correct form

Diamonds

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.directlyrics.com/rihanna-diamonds-lyrics.html

Video: 



Linguistic aspects: as a very popular song once said, diamonds are a girl's best friends and here lots of  verbs and expressions are related to light, brightness and passion. To start with, diamonds shine, but if you say that a person or thing  shines through, it means that he/she or it is really rather noticeable.

As everyone knows, a shooting star is a meteoroid that, after entering the atmosphere, becomes visible and soon vanishes. This is a metaphor that can be also used to describe someone's fortune. When you talk about a TV star, for instance, and you compare him/her to a shooting star, you are expressing a negative comment on the fact that his/her success is doomed to fade away quite soon.

If you see eye to eye with someone, you agree with what he/she is thinking or saying.

Finally, in Rihanna' s song the expression "as we, moonshine and molly" has been widely discussed by many linguists in several forums or sites. Litelly in fact, the word moonshine means in US English not only "an illegal type of alcoholic drink" but also "a silly remark", whereas the word molly is an informal word that stands for the purest form of ecstasy. All in all, I guess that it implies "alcohol and drugs" in the broadest sense.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bon Jovi- "Because We Can"

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!

Level: beginner

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)


Lyrics taken from:  sing365.com

Video: 

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 fact you 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 to soldier on, implying that you continue doing something although it is very hard for you.  

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Swedish House Mafia- "Don't You Worry Child"

We all recall the wise words said to us by one of our dear ones when we were still very young. The song, that we are going to listen to today, sets a good example of it. Namely "Don't You Worry Child", sung by the Swedish trio Swedish House Mafia, explores the relationship between a father and a son and if, incidentally, you are going to deal with this theme in your class, you can't miss my "Ideas for Teachers"!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: simple past

Activity: listening + put the verbs between brackets into the correct tense


Don't You Worry Child

Lyrics taken from:  http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/swedishhousemafia/dontyouworrychild.html

Video:



Ideas for teachers: why don't you compare this song to Cat Steven's classic "Father and Son"? You can ask your students to focus on who is speaking, what the song is about, which one they prefer and why. Finally, on the basis of what they remember from their childhood, you can ask them to pin their favourite motto (suggested to them by a dear one) along with a very special picture on the pinboard
 offered by Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/). I am positive that your results will go far beyond your  expectations!

Linguistic aspects: as you already know, this song is excellent to revise simple past and to start with, let's consider the expression "I used to look into my father's eyes". In English you used to do something when you want to emphasize the fact that in the past you did that action repeatedly and/or you were quite familiar with it, but then, with the passing of time, you stopped doing it. The expression to be accustomed to doing something has a similar meaning.

Noteworthy is the verb "rule", often followed by the preposition over, with the meaning of "controlling over" or "governing" something.


Additionally, in the lyrics you find the expression "to lose someone out of sight", used to say that you are no longer in contact with someone and you haven't seen him/her for long. The opposite of "out of sight" is obviously " in sight": if something is in/within sight, it is likely to happen very soon.

In conclusion let's examine the encouraging words: "Heaven has got a plan for you", that you can say to reassure someone that sooner or later he/she will receive the necessary help and support to be successful in life.