Thursday, 30 January 2014

George Ezra- "Budapest"

Some weeks ago we read that BBC ranked fifth the young George Ezra among the best emerging artists for BBC Sound of...2014 (as you can read here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25590684) and now that his song, "Budapest", is being on air in different countries, we'd like to put some suggestions forward  as lesson plans.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: misspelling

Activity: correct the mistakes

Budapest

Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/g/george_ezra/budapest.html

Video: 





Tips for teachers: with the help of this chart on http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/common-misspellings, you can produce other similar exercises on misspellings for your class.

Let's talk about: travels and cities with a special place in our heart.1) List 5 cities you've visited; 2) List 3 of your best favourite places; 3)Are there places/cities that have a special meaning for you?If so, explain why.





Sunday, 26 January 2014

Henry Ozark- "I'm Your Sacrifice"

Today's song, "I'm Your Sacrifice" by the Belgian artist Ozark Henry, is absolutely perfect if you're planning a lesson plan on phrases. In particular, it would be advisable to propose activities like the following one, in case your students are going to study for Cambridge examinations (especially FCE and CAE). 

Level: intermediate/upper intermediate

Grammar focus on: phrases

Activity: circle the right option. In this case, we would suggest that you should give this worksheet before listening to the lyrics, so as to activate students' previous knowledge and to stimulate predicting process skills, too.


Lyrics taken from: http://www.lyricshall.com/lyrics/Ozark+Henry/Im+Your+Sacrifice/

Video:


Let's talk about: happy and sad love affairs. The following topics may be associated to "I'm Your Sacrifice": 1) Have you ever been in love?; 2)Have you ever experienced a sad or painful love story?;3) What would you suggest to one of your friends who is suffering a lot?


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Our Tips&Infographs

If you wish to start and create your own lesson plans with hits, you can't miss our new page at http://singalongwithit.blogspot.it/p/tips.html. Let us know your opinion!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

How can Oxford Dictionaries (OED) help you to teach with songs?

Following our post A New look for the Oxford Dictionaries (OED) website!, we'd like to illustrate how Oxford Dictonaries (OED) can help you to teach ESL/ESF with contemporary songs. Scrolling the pull-down menu below the "English" section, you can find functional suggestions for your lesson plans.
Here are some examples:

1) through the "Search" option, you can type any word or phrase and look for its meaning, synonym and translation in other languages. Clicking on the meaning of the word, you're interested in, you can read "Nearby Words" (i.e. the category of words related to it), where also antonyms may be listed. In teaching with songs, you could select a certain number of words or phrases in lyrics, highlight them and then ask your students to go to Oxford Dictionaries (OED) and look for: a) the meaning of the words underlined; b) synonyms; c) translation in their language. As a matter of fact these activities would be advantageous to implement their vocabulary. In addition to this, it would help students to get aware of their limits, train them to use dictionaries online as well as stimulate them to develop problem solving strategies. 
2)  Go to the "Grammar" section,  anytime you mean to focus your lesson plan on spelling, punctuation and language usage. 
For example, highlight words that can confuse your students in spelling, and show the chart on the page: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/common-misspellings. Let them read it and memorize as many words as possible. Cover it up, then divide the class in groups of two or three and give them a list of five words to spell correctly. In each group, in turn, one student asks their peers to spell the word and next corrects them in case they're wrong.  As an alternative, you could also draw your attention on songs with marked US spellings and highlight them. In this case you can ask your students to work in pairs in order to spell and rewrite the words given, according to British spelling or viceversa. As for punctuation, it would be interesting to pick one song and ask your students to rewrite it, adding commas, question marks, initials, etc. First they would read the guide provided here: Punctuation- Oxford Dictionaries and then, individually, they would modify the usually bare lyrics' style into a richer narrative text.
In terms of confusing words, we know that in learning a second/foreign language, students need to learn how to discriminate homophones. On the basis of the greed provided here: Commonly confused words, choose one song and create a matching exercise, where students are invited to associate the words given in the hit with one of the two meanings (meaning of Word 1 and meaning of the misleading Word 2). 
In relation to the British and the American language varieties, you could pick some words in the lyrics (either British or American) and ask your students to look into the following British and American list of words and search for the equivalent of the highlighted word.  All considered, all of these activities play an important role in the ESL/EFL learning process, since they improve students' discernment and interpretation abilities.

3) Finally it's worth mentioning the relevance of the "Explore" section in support of teaching with songs. Here in fact you can find different types of word lists
Why don't you start from words contained in your lyrics to elicit your students' lexical properties, by simply creating a quiz where they have to guess the meaning of a phobia or the specific name for a collective group of animals, etc.? Then they would check online if their predictions were exact. Puzzles and games are also available on the site but you need to examine if they are proper for the content of your lesson plan.  Finally, you can draw your attention on the origin of a specific word in the lyrics, by inviting your students to trace its etymology. This activity would be extremely valuable if you're going to deal a song in relation to history or literature, for the reason that your students would get an idea of how the English language has evolved throughout the centuries in terms of borrowings, loans or calques. Taking everything into account, it's clear that this section is helpful if you are trying to make your lesson plan more interactive with your students. 

To conclude, it is our opinion that the support of Oxford Dictionaries in our teaching with songs would encourage our students to develop their competences in terms of language diastratic, diachronic and diatopic variety. Initially it would be quite troublesome to get acquainted with all the functions and services provided by the site, but as soon as you get experienced in its sections, you won't do without this precious tool of investigation, consultation and update of your linguistic skills, too. Namely, when your teaching is supported daily by the reference to OED, we observe that your students get more chances to feel involved and motivated not only in their process of ESL/EFL and awareness of the language dynamics but also in their process of learning in general.







A new look for the Oxford Dictionaries (OED) website!

This week we'd like to bring up the curtain on a new section of our blog, Tutorials, where you can find useful tricks to simplify your job in planning lessons with up-to-date hits.
Let's start from the support of dictionaries in teaching ESL/EFL through songs. Taking the cue from the fresh look of one of the most prestigious dictionaries in the world, i.e. The Oxford Dictionaries (OED), in this post we' d like to point out the new services offered, before introducing an essential guide on how this tool can efficiently improve your teaching.

www.oxforddictionaries.com

 As many of you have already noticed, last week Oxford Dictionaries launched a fresh comprehensive portal, where the English language is fully appraised. Unlike the past, when OED proved mainly as a valid dictionary and vocabulary, it has now become the reference instrument for any linguist, that aims not only at improving his/her vocabulary, but also at reflecting upon the origin of any word or upon the modern usage (but also the ill usage!) of the language in terms of spelling, punctuation and differences between British and American English. What's more, you can implement your linguistic skills thanks to the Wordsblog, the Word of the Day and Your language questions, that have made the site more interactive and interesting to follow day by day. At the same time you can dispel any doubt about grammar and punctuation, simply setting "Grammar and Usage" among you search options. Don't forget that you can subscribe for free or opt for the Silver or Gold subscription to make use of professional reference works, i.e. New Hart's Rule, Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage, etc. However, in our opinion the free subscription is enough for your classroom activities. In this way you can be updated with all the most relevant language news at any time and read all the main entries with a basic number of examples. 
 In the post entitled How can Oxford Dictionaries (OED) help you to teach with songs? we are going to give you simple ideas to support your teaching activity with OED. 





Monday, 20 January 2014

Music Timeline at Google Research

In his excellent blog Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne informs us about an innovative timeline launched by Google Research, entitled Music Timeline. Being curious to check if it could be helpful for ESL/EFL teaching with songs, we found out that it is a colorful and basic timeline, showing visually the evolution of the most popular music genres from 1950 up to 2010. 
Clicking  on each stripe associated to a specific genre, you are firstly directed to a list of all the most popular albums of that decade. Clicking on each of them, you are then directed to the album tracks.
How can you use Music Timeline in your class?
Here are some suggestions:
1)  you can guide your students to get an overall view of the music history in the last 60 years and show them all the most popular albums and the audio tracks contained in them.
2) You can listen to all of the tracks thanks to Google Play. It is important to point out that this service is not free, but it could be useful, if you are interested in a particular song and you cannot find it via YouTube, etc.
3) You can give extra detailed technical infos about a particular album release date, a record company and the audio file format. Furthermore you can leave your review to other Google Play users.
4) If you are looking for a specific artist, enter his/her name on the "Search section" on the right side of the page and you'll see all of his/her albums and a short biography of him/her. 
Unfortunately the Timeline offers you neither links to the videoclips of the songs nor lyrics. Besides you need to prepare extra links if you want to deal with historical and social background related to the recent history of music. 
On the whole, we deem that it's a good starting point if you wish to provide your students with an essential overview of all the most recent music phenomena.






Saturday, 18 January 2014

Passenger- "Let Her Go"

An other love song, although quite sad, as it talks about an irreparable goodbye, is used here to reinforce ESL/EFL students' vocabulary. "Let Her Go" is the song written and performed by the UK artist Mark David Rosenberg, better known as "Passenger", a musician with a rather interesting biography. If you want to know more about him, insert his name on Wikipedia or google him.

Level: intermediate- upper intermediate

Focus on: spelling and writing

Activity: in the text provided there are 10 mistakes. Find them and rewrite the correct words ansìd then check against.


Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/passenger/lethergo.html

Video: 


Tips for teachers: give the worksheet to your class, before listening to the song and ask it to try and correct possible mistakes. After the listening activity, verify if their predictions were right.

Let's talk about: 1) Have you ever said goodbye to someone? 1) List 5 expressions you shouldn't say to someone you're breaking up with; 3) Find 5 adjectives that describe your feelings when your love story reaches the end of the line.

Katy Perry- "Unconditionally"

We often select Katy Perry's lyrics, as they're highly motivating for our students, being easily accessible and catchy and her last "Unconditionally" is no exception at all. Our activity today is conceived as a brainstorming activity, that allows our students to elicit their previous knowledge and prepare them to check if their predictions were right.

Level: beginner/ pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: idiomatic expressions, phrases

Activity: before listening, circle the right option. Listen the song once (this time without text) and then listen it again and check against.


Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/katyperry/unconditionally.html

Video:


Let's talk about: 1) do you believe in eternal love?; 2) Do you like love songs?; 3) Have you ever dedicated a love song to someone?

As Animals- "I See Ghost" (Ghost Gunfighters)

Today we'd like to introduce to you a new single debut,  "I See Ghost", sung by the French duo, As Animals. As many of you already know, in English "you look as if you have seen a ghost" is an idiomatic expression meaning that you look like extremely upset and frightened. Hence, we guess, the meaning of the title of this song, which- we hope- will become a smash hit right away!

Level: beginner/ pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: adjectives

Activity: reorder the words given into scrambled order


Lyrics taken from: http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107859459392/

Video:


Tips for teachers: why don't you use the idiomatic expressions concerning the word "ghost"? Have a look at the Oxford Dictionary page at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ghost?q=ghost and draw inspiration to create a matching exercise to make your students reinforce vocabulary skills.

Let's talk about: 1) Have you ever been scared stiff?If so, in which circumstances?; 2) List five remedies that help you overcome fear; 3) List five words related to the word "fear" and associate them to recent news stories, that have upset you.

Friday, 10 January 2014

James Blunt- "Heart to Heart"

An other single from James Blunt's album "Bonfire Heart" today in our blog: "Heart to Heart". Basically, a "heart-to- heart" is a private conversation between two people about their feelings, but in this song it becomes an important personal declaration of loyalty in friendship as well as in love. For us it cues for a hip fast activity that you can do with your students to distinguish homophones.

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: homophones

Activity: circle the right option (odd man out)



Video:


Speaking activities: 1) have you ever written a love letter?; 2) Have you ever done something exceptional for a special friend?; 3) List 5 qualities that a special friend (or boyfriend/girlfriend) should have.

Tips for teachers: give today's worsheet to your students before listening to the song and ask them to circle the right words (given in italics). Later they will check if their predictions were right.




Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Pharrell Williams- "Happy"

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 spirits for good!

Level: beginner/pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: phrasal verbs/ phrases

Activity: fill in the gap exercise (items provided)



Video:


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. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

U2- "Ordinary Love"

As the world is still mourning for Mandela's death and our hearts go out to his memory, we would like to begin this new year with the marvellous "Ordinary Love", written by U2. This song was in fact written by the Irish band last year in honour of Madiba and it's part of the biography film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom". It is based on Mandela's love letters written to his wife, while he was still imprisoned and it's quite touchy and delicate at the same time.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: homophones

Activity: circle the right option.We recommend that you should first listen to the song, without watching the video, because it contains all the lyrics (therefore you could watch it instead to correct your listening activity).



Video: 


Linguistic aspects: to have someone on your sleeve means to plan something secret in order to surprise someone who is close to your heart.

Vocabulary: all the song is rich in love expressions. You can discuss about: a) love letters. Have you ever received a love letter? Did you like it? If so, why?; b) Do you consider street art a form of art?; c) What do you know about Mandela's biography?

Tips for teachers: you can arouse your students' motivation, by asking them if they know who is the person portrayed in the very last part of the song on the mural and the name of the artist who painted it. The answer can be easily found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_Love_(U2_song) and your students can be afterwards invited to find other works made by the Irish artist Oliver Jeffers.