Showing posts with label simple past. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple past. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 September 2019

OneRepublic- "Kids"

Today's song, "Kids" by OneRepublic, is quite popular all around the world and I guess it could be really useful in case you're going to revise more than one past tense, as used to/would, the past continuous, etc., but it could be easily adapted to learn some phrasal verbs as well.

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: revision of past tenses

Activity: learn and conjugate the verbs given between brackets



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Ed Sheeran- "Perfect"

Valentine's day is coming soon and today I'm working on a perfect love song, which I'm sure some of my students will enjoy greatly. "Perfect" is a ballad sung by the British pop artist Ed Sheeran duetting with the American pop star BeyoncĂ©. I know that in this hit there are love idioms, but  I preferred focusing on the past simple form of irregular verbs, which is usually a sore point for English learners.

Level: pre- and intermediate

Grammar focus on:  past simple

Activity: fill in the blanks


Monday, 6 November 2017

Justin Bieber & BloodPop- "Friends"

The lyrics I have gone for today needs no presentation: I bet that your students already sing it and girls are simply crazy about Justin Bieber, i.e. the singer. The type of language is also basic and some lines are repeated more than two or three times, too. Therefore I thought to use it to reinforce students'skills about grammar as well as pronunciation.

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: present simple vs. simple past 

Activity: circle the right option


Friday, 13 October 2017

Coldplay ft. Big Sean- "Miracles (someone Special)"

As many of you already know, immigration is one of the most controversial issues we're currently more concerned about. Taking into account that many of us have ancestors, friends or sons who, for some reason, have moved from their homeland to a new country for a better chance, I just settled on the idea of working on Coldplay's hit "Miracles". In actual fact, I believe this song is excellent for two reasons: a) students can look at the immigrants' experience and feelings with different eyes and therefore increase awareness in other people's emotions and b) they can also be more motivated to follow their dreams. In the song, in fact, there's a list of great people who succeeded, notwithstanding the obstacles they had to go through. What's more the videoclip of the song can be taken to mean both a family photo album and a gallery of pictures; the words that appear on it are quite emotional and catchy, too.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: simple past

Activity: complete the song with the correct form of the verbs given between brackets


Thursday, 12 October 2017

One Republic feat. Tiziano Ferro- "No Vacancy"

Hi everyone!I'm back again after a long while with my bizarre posts on how to use contemporary hits to teach and learn English as a second language, i.e. a hard task for any Italian teacher! I'm glad to start over with an easy listening, "No Vacancy", by the US group One Republic, that many students already know thanks to the collaboration of the band with the Italian music singer and songwriter  Tiziano Ferro. I thought this is may help you to review past simple in a very relaxing way. Enjoy it!

Level: beginner

Grammar focus on: past simple

Activity: complete the song with the given verbs in the correct form

Lyrics taken from: Google Play


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, 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, 25 March 2013

Pink feat. Nate Ruess- "Just give me a reason"

This duet is in for a treat! As all the followers of this blog already know, we always relish lyrics sung by Pink and FUN so that now their "Just give me a reason" proves one clearer evidence of our devotion to them!

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: adjectives about feelings and quality

Activity: fill in the gaps (items provided)

Just give me a reason

Lyrics taken from: directlyrics


Linguistic aspects: A few words to exaplain the meaning of idioms. To start with, it is written in the stars is used to say it is certain to happen or it is meant to happen that....

Let's consider then  Your head is running wild again which sounds like  You are behaving like you want and no one can control you.

Besides we are collecting (or gathering) dust is an expression that compares ourselves to books, because as long as they remain unused, they are covered with dust. 

What's more, a very interesting idiomatic phrase is our hearts are not broken but just bent, which clearly defines the fact that after suffering so much, we are still in love with each other.

In conclusion, let's talk about two verbs (deriving from nouns): to duct and to rust. In the first case tears are ducted, i.e. they are conveyed through the eye tube. While your feelings can get rusted if they are damaged and you dont' feel like falling in love anymore.

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:


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 ( 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.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Of Monsters and Men- "Little Talks"

Many literary and folk echoes run through Of Monsters and Men's debut single, "Little Talks". Let me know what their video and their lyrics suggest to you...

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: present continuous

Activity: fill-in-the gaps

Little Talks

Lyrics taken from:


Linguistic aspects: to play tricks means to deceive sb. . If you hang around (and that's not often a compliment for you!) you are spending your time in a place waiting or doing nothing...Sometimes someone may ask you what you are doing special that day and if you answer: "I' m just hanging around" you are underlining the fact that you are relaxing yourself. Teenagers usually hang around on Friday or Saturday evening, i.e. they go out and move from one place to another without any specific purpose. In the expression "All that's left is a ghost of you"  the metaphor is used to describe that you bear very little of a person, or the things you shared together with, in your mind.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Young The Giant- "My Body"

Today I' m glad to propose "My Body", the second extract of Young The Giant's latest album, which has been appealing to everybody all around the world in the last months. Despite its easy content, I am dealing with a hostile grammar  topic for ESL learners, i.e. the different use between subject personl pronouns and personal adjectives.

Level: beginner/pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: subjetc personal pronouns vs. personal adjectives

Activity: My Body

Lyrics taken from:


Friday, 27 April 2012

Rebecca Ferguson- "Glitter & Gold"

An interesting question to ask is: "What lies behind the title of this song?". At first you may think it's the usual song dedicated to women's beauty, but it isn't. It contains a subtle recommendation: never forget where you are from and whom you grew up with!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: prepositions, phrasal verbs

Activity: Glitter & Gold

Lyrics taken from:


Cultural hint: like may other fresh singers, even Rebecca Ferguson joined in the UK version of  "X- Factor" and she went through two different auditions before being admitted! Eventually in 2011 she was one of the two finalists of the talent show but, unfortunately, she didn't win the competition! As you can read in this interview she didn't want to play on the sob-story of  her modest childhood:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Train- "Drive By"

The vocabulary of lyrics often offers many new words: "drive-by" is an example. You may look up dictionaries and you do not find it, you can only guess the meaning. For this reason, I have decided to work on two different aspects of Train's "Drive By": firstly, on adjectives and, secondly, on new English words.

Level: pre-intermediate

Grammar focus on: adjectives, new words

Activity: Drive By

Lyrics taken from:


Monday, 9 April 2012

Gotye- "Somebody that I used to know"

The first time I listened to this song I believed it was being sung by Sting or Peter Gabriel, but much to my surprise I found out this is an extract taken from the third album of a promising Belgian- Australian songwriter, Gotye. This song is becoming a major hit in Italy and nowdays it is always on air.

Level: preintermediate

Grammar focus on: simple past (affirmative and negative form)

Somebody that I used to know

Lyrics taken from:


Friday, 10 February 2012

R.E.M.- "We All Go Back to Where We Belong"

Goodbyes are always sad and this song in particular makes me think about how beautiful all of R.E.M.'s songs are. We will miss them too much in the future:-(

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: simple past

We All Go Back to Where We Belong.

Lyrics taken from:

 Two videos are available:

Coldplay- "Charlie Brown"

Come on lovable losers, our determination and hope will bring us a brighter future.. I guess that's the message Coldplay want to send us!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: simple past
If you want you can also work on will + continuos form.

Activity: Charlie Brown

Lyrics taken from:


Cultural hints:  do you want to  know more about Charlie Brown's history and the Peanuts' saga? Then go to: