“Don’t Shut Me Down”

ABBA, 2021

Forty years after the release of their last album, the band ABBA reunited and released a new album (which they say is their last). The song “Don’t Shut Me Down” on that album is a favorite of music critics. A review in USA Today describes it as “a  throwback to what people love most about ABBA.” The song has clearly pronounced lyrics and a catchy melody, and it tells a story to boot–making it a great choice for the language classroom.

Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening  If you are able to project images on a screen in your classroom, show students this photo of a woman sitting on a park bench in the rain. (Or print out a hard copy of the photo, provided in a Word document and PDF below.) The photo sets the stage for the song. Ask students to describe what they see in the photo. Ask them to guess how the woman feels and what she could be looking at.

Don’t Shut Me Down, Pre-Listening. docx          Don’t Shut Me Down, Pre-Listening. pdf

  • Listening  Watch the official lyric video.
  • Listening  Students listen to the song and fill in the missing rhyming words. (Pause the recording to give students time to write.) Lyrics intended for nonprofit educational use only.

Don’t Shut Me Down, cloze.docx          Don’t Shut Me Down, cloze. pdf

  • Post-Listening  Practice the pronunciation of the rhyming words in the song after completing the gap-fill exercise above. Read the 12 pairs of rhyming words aloud and ask students to repeat after you. Call students’ attention to the pairs where different vowels make the same vowel sound: pour/floor; reloaded/decoded; around/down; again/pretend.
  • Post-Listening  Write a summary of the story in the song. Working as a class, students tell the story in 8-10 sentences as you write their summary on the board. For example, the summary might begin something like this:

A woman is sitting in a park.
It is getting dark.
She is looking at an apartment building.
Lights go on in an apartment on the second floor.

The students’ summary could be used as the basis for one of these no-prep activities: Pair Dictation or Disappearing Summary. For the Pair Dictation, have half of your students turn their desks or chairs so that they can’t see the summary on the board. The remaining students find a partner and, facing the board, dictate about half the sentences to their partner. Then students switch roles. After the dictation, all students face the board and check their work. For the Disappearing Summary activity, you erase the summary line by line a few words at a time. After each erasure, ask students to read the line aloud (even though some words are missing). Ultimately, students will be reciting the entire summary from memory.

  • Post-Listening At the end of the song, the woman walks into the apartment that she used to share with her ex. Working in pairs or as a class, students imagine the conversation that happens when the man opens the door and sees her standing in the hall. Students then write the conversation up in the form of a dialog. Once the dialog is written, pairs of volunteers can come forward and act it out for the class.