Showing posts with label vocabulary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vocabulary. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 April 2018

U2- "Get Out Of Your Own Way"

Back again with an other extract from U2's latest album "Songs of Experience" (I've already dealt with it here), today's hit, "Get Out Of Your Own Way", plays a major role while speaking to your students about war and its consequences. True to what's happening in Siria in these days, I think you could use my worksheet to focus on vocabulary about war and peace. The song has many hints at the contemporary US politics and make our students reflect upon the current situation in Siria. Before doing the listening activity I would propose my students to watch the video with no presentation or comment and then ask them to detect the message of the song we're going to listen together, but let me know if you have other options for it. 

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

Activity: listen and fill in the gaps (items provided)

Lyrics taken from: Angolo Testi


Thursday, 26 February 2015


I have loved this song since the first time I listened to it! As you can imagine, as a fresh mother, I am easily moved by lyrics that are about the relationship between parents and children and "I Lived" is a perfect summary of all the emotions, hopes and dreams that we share everyday.
I'm sure your students will appreciate the videoclip of this song, as it is centred on all the activities they wish to do once in their lifetime!

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: present simple

Activity: circle the right option. This activity would be perfect in case you're going to revise the use of -s for the third person of present simple.

Lyrics taken from:


Let's talk about: your relations with your parents. 1) What activities do you like to do with your parents? 2) What are the activities your parents are good at (or helpless at)? 3) Describe a special day that you spent with your parents.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Hozier- "Take Me to Church"

Today I'm posting a short worksheet on one of the major hits, "Take Me to Church" by the Irish singer and composer Hozier. Notwithstanding the fact that it has been broadcast all over the world, being played and replayed hunderds of times by all the radios, it isn't so commercial as many think.  As a matter of fact, the song relates the love story of two guys of the same sex and it also attacks the stance held by the Christian Church against homosexuality. For this reason, I agree that this activity should be directed to adult teenagers or committed and conscious students. But if you're willing to use it to make even younger students aware about these issues, why not?

Level: upper-intermediate, advanced

Gramamr focus on: vocabulary

Activity: fill-in the gaps

Lyrics taken from:


Let's talk about: religion and feelings. 1) What does "Take Me to Church" inspire you? Talk about your feelings. 2) Compare your emotions with your classmates. 3) What message does Hozier want to convey?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Macklemore&Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert- "Same Love"

Today we're going to write about a song, "Same Love" by Macklemore&Ryan Lewis, that is a marvelous feat of courage and strength for equal rights. It is indeed a special contribution to the 2012 campaign supporting the "Washington Referendum 74" but also a stance against hip hop's widespread homophobic prejudices. 
Before submitting your class to any listening activity, we would suggest that you should let its video clip play. As you will see, in fact, it is the highly affecting account of a man, his falling in love with a person of the same sex and their love story up to the moment of their old age. We know that in many countries this topic may still cause contrasting reactions but we are of the opinion that dealing with aspects related to gender orientation and sexual identity may open the door for opposing dramatic phenomena, such as discrimination and bullying in education, as well as raising awareness of individual choices and respect towards different ones

Level: upper intermediate

Focus on: vocabulary

Activity: show the video clip of the song without listening to the music and ask your students to describe what they have just watched. Focus on their personal feelings, as our listening activity is centred on words related to discrimination. Students will fill in the song with the missing words (provided in advance) and later on they will be guided to reflect on the topic of "diversity".

Lyrics taken from:


Let's talk about diversity: 1) have you aver felt isolated? 2) Have you ever been victim of discrimination? 3) List 5 values that people should cultivate to accept diversity.

Tips for teachers: if your students are already on an advanced level, focus on the colloquial linguistic aspects offered by this song and we're sure you won't regret it!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

James Blunt- "Bonfire Heart"

Today I was thinking that many times homophones can give EFL learners nasty surprises (such as I/eye, die/dye, etc) and, indeed, only if they know the context they're dealing with, they can have a sudden revelation of these words' ambiguity. For this reason, I decided to work on homophones appearing in "Bonfire Heart" by James Blunt. I label today's worksheet as a useful way to improve students' vocabulary and discriminate words with similar sounds, but I recommend proposing it to learners with at least a pre-intermediate level.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: homophones, vocabulary

Activity: circle the right word


Monday, 30 September 2013

John Newman- "Love Me Again"

Last week, Ele kindly asked me to give some suggestions about one hit loved by her students,i.e. "Love Me Again" by John Newman. I immediately got to work and thought about a series of activities that could be proposed to her junior high school pupils and I hope to get her feedback soon. As you know, my worksheets are usually quite generic so as to be suitable for a wide range of linguistic levels and I appreciate the fact the teachers, like Ele, diligently adapt them to meet their students' need. Therefore do not hesitate to write me and ask for other hits to be used in class, I am really happy to work with you!

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: adverbs to show time and clarify, vocabulary, phonetics;

Activity: 4 different exercises are proposed. 

In the first one students are invited individually to tick out extra words and then they work in two, comparing their version (different extra words are added in the two versions a) and b).

Later they have to reflect on adverbs and find similar ones in their own native language.

Considering the young age of junior school students, I though that it could be a good idea to reinforce their vocabulary through the use of cliparts. In this case I am referring to OpenClipart ( and iCLIPART FOR SCHOOLS (the latter being specifically addressed to school professionals with licensing restrictions for web bloggers) that are absolutely free.

The last exercise- and this is new for this blog!- is about phonetics, since I thought that this aspect of ESL or EFL teaching, though fundamental, is not particularly cherished by learners. In this case I would get students crosscheck their results with the help of Macmillan Dictionary Pronunciation and Transcription.


Tips: if you're interested in knowing more about the making of the video, go to "Love Me Again"- Behind the Scenes., in which John Newman explains the origin of the song, his video style, etc.: 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Katy Perry- "Roar"

A few days ago I was reading Laine Redpath Cole's article about slang and txt speak on, when I suddenly thought of Katy Perry' s unofficial video of her latest hit, "Roar". As you will see, in this video a girl is chatting with her friends in a language full of emoticons, rather than plain words and everyone's attention is directed to the bright pictures on her phone screen. Considering that these days many teachers are coming back school and they are often looking for enjoyable activities, why don't use this video to stimulate your students' natural talent in associating new visual material to their familiar vocabulary?

Level: intermediate

Focus on: simple past, vocabulary

Activity: after watching the video, students are invited (relying on their good memory) to fill in the song with the missing words. Compare their results, listen to the song once again and finally show them the complete lyrics.

Video used for this activity:

Katy Perry's official video:

Tips for teachers:as a follow-up activity, read together the above mentioned article on Macmillan Dictionary Blog and ask them to write down a list of five other English colloquial words, used everyday in social media. 

From personal experience I know that students love this topic and often ask you to explain the meaning of other text words and slang they have read but cannot understand, so be prepared for any type of question!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Bastille- "Pompeii"

What are we up to today?A breath of fresh air is filling our lungs, thanks to "Pompeii". This is the latest hit released by the new British band, Bastille. Just out of curiosity, the band was named after the Bastille Day, i.e. the day Dan Smith (frontman and songwriter) was born.

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

Activity: word order, fill in the grid with words related to prepositions, -ing form, wh-questions and find opposites 


Lyrics taken from:


Linguistic aspects: a short guide today to highlight some aspects. 

First, I was left to my devices: here it is to say that I was alone and I was allowed to fool someone else.

Secondly, days fall away every time you realise that time goes by, but that is almost insignificant to you. You can also say that a poster can fall away, in case it breaks off from the thing it has been fixed to. Otherwise a piece of land falls aways when it slopes down. In a figurative way, if you examine that sales have fallen away recently, you get to the point that shops have sold less products lately. In addition to this, in literary British a sound (or feeling)   falls away as long as it becomes weaker (see Macmillan Dictionary for further information).

Thirdly, you reduce something to rubble anytime you destroy it completely. Literally, a rubble is any piece of broken stone.

In the end, the expression: "Let the dust settle" is an excellent tip to give whenever you suggest that a person needs to calm down, after a violent outburst or breakdown.

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:


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.  

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:


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:


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.

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


Lyrics taken from:


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):

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

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


Lyrics taken from:


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.

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:


Cultural hints: If you want to know more about Lisa Hannigan's social commitment read about Oxfam's 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  and

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bruce Springsteen- "We Take Care Of Our Own"

The Boss is back with a new verve as well as a new anger expressed in his "We Take Care Of Our Own"!

Level: upper intermediate

Grammar focus on: vocabulary

We Take Care Of Our Own

Lyrics taken from:

Cultural hints: Read more about Springsteen's activism on