Saturday, 30 November 2013

Lorde- "Royals"

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!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Miley Cyrus- "Wrecking ball"

A whirlwind of controversy has been fuelling Miley Cyrus' latest performance on stage at the EMA awards. Keep your shirt on, I don't mean to deal with that matter, but I deem that this song (notwithstanding its quite off-colour video, not suitable for young teenagers) could be useful for teachers. If you are going to plan a lesson on child stars then and now, for example, you can direct your students' attention on the consequences of success or going against social rules. In that case, this song would be a good starting point to revise a rather boring grammar topic, like simple past, as well as to practise speaking abilities.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: simple past (regular/ irregular verbs, affirmative form)

Activity: turn the given verbs into the simple past form

Video (please see above):

Tips for teachers: I am also linking this version of the video song, containing the lyrics, in case you wish to use the song only to start a conversation in class:

Monday, 4 November 2013

San Cisco- "Rocket Ship"

The first time I watched "Rocket Ship" video by the Australian band San Cisco, I immediately thought this song could be perfect to improve students' speaking abilities. Firstly, it is centred on friendship and fun. Secondly, in watching the video students are led to amuse themselves. Thirdly, it is a good starting point to ask students to talk about some of the following aspects: bravado acts, bragging as well as their most favourite leisure activities.
In my opinion, you can plan a very simple lesson and propose it to students at any age or linguistic level.
Level: any
Grammar focus on: verbs
Activities for a basic lesson plan:
  1. brainstorming on the meaning of the title words of the lyrics;
  2.  watch the video;
  3.  write down at least five activities that young people doing in this video are enjoying ;
  4.  ask your students to recollect funny activities that they have shared with their peers as pair work;
  5. listen to the song;
  6. reorder the words given in scrambled order;
  7. correct the exercise.
Later on, as follow-up activity, I would suggest to divide your class in small groups and collect pictures of their funniest moments as class (i.e. trips, after-school activities. creative projects, etc.).
After that, they can create a poster and write under each picture precise captions or brief descriptions of what they were doing there.
As a result, they won't simply enjoy themselves sharing opinions and comments but they will also improve their group identity as class and cooperation, too.
Listening activity to download: Rocket Ship