“Don’t Stop Believin'”

Journey, 1981

If you’re looking for a song with a lot of participial phrases, this would be the one to pick. A bonus is that the song’s upbeat chorus (Don’t stop believin’ / Hold on to that feelin’) infuses the lesson with positive energy. Although over 30 years old, “Don’t Stop Believin’” continues to be one of the most downloaded songs in the U.S. My students loved the song–they were looking for it on their smart phones before they even left the classroom.
One phrase–“the smell of wine”–may make the song inappropriate for some classes; otherwise, the song and the official videos are classroom friendly.

Every year the U. S. Library of Congress chooses 25 recordings to preserve for future generations. The recordings are chosen because they are important parts of American culture, history, or art. In 2022, the original recording of “Don’t Stop Believin’” was one of the 25 recordings chosen for preservation.

Choose from the following activities. (If your students don’t have much experience using participial phrases, it’s important to do Worksheets 1, 2, and 3 in order.)

  • Pre-Listening Practice reducing adjective clauses to participial phrases. Permission granted to reproduce Worksheet 1 for classroom use.

participial phrases, part 1.docx          participial phrases, part 1.pdf

Follow up by asking students to describe one another based on where they’re sitting. For example:

Who’s Eric? He’s the guy sitting next to Alberto.
Who’s Jenny? She’s the woman sitting behind Eric.

  • Pre-Listening Practice combining two sentences to make one sentence with a participial phrase. Permission granted to reproduce Worksheet 2 for classroom use.

participial phrases, part 2.docx          participial phrases, part 2.pdf

  • Pre-Listening Reduce adjective clauses and combine sentences to form lines from the song “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Permission granted to reproduce Worksheet 3 (below) for classroom use.

participial phrases in don’t stop.docx          participial phrases in don’t stop.pdf

  • Pre-Listening Complete the lyrics cloze exercise. Intended for nonprofit educational purposes only.

Don’t Stop Believin’, cloze.docx          Don’t Stop Believin’, cloze.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics (in the worksheet above).
  • Post-Listening Read the story “Arnel’s Long Journey,” about Journey’s new lead singer. The reading is at the low-intermediate level. If you think it might be challenging for your students, consider previewing new vocabulary before they read. Below are the steps for the previewing activity I used in my own class.
  1. Write the words from the story that are probably new to your students on the board. I wrote: member, lead singer, to quit, guitarist, to search, performer, to post, audition, journey, bankrupt, behind in the rent, to end up, scrap metal, to join, homeless.
  2. Clarify the meaning of the words with definitions, examples, and little stories that put the words in context. For example, to explain the word member, I said, “If you are in a group, you are a member of the group. You are a member of this English class. You are a member of your family. Maybe you are also a member of a club or sports team.” Continue explaining each word in this way.
  3. Now it’s the students’ turn to be “teachers.” One at a time, student volunteers pick any word from the list on the board and clarify it with a definition, example, or little story. THEY DO NOT SAY THE WORD. Other students guess which word the “teacher” is describing. When they’ve guessed the word, cross it off the list. One of my students, for instance, explained audition this way: “My dream is to be an actor in a movie. So I go to many ______________________.” Volunteers continue being “teachers” until just one word remains on the list. Then students read the story.

Variation: Write the new words on flashcards. When it’s your students’ turn to be the “teachers,” line the words up on the chalk tray, or tape them to the wall. Remove the words as students guess them. Save the flashcards to review the vocabulary later.

  • Post-Listening Watch an official music video. Choose from the following:

Live in Houston, featuring Journey’s original lead singer, Steve Perry
Live in Manila, featuring Journey’s new lead singer, Arnel Pineda (First read the story “Arnel’s Long Journey.” If time is short, you could tell students the story. The story adds to the impact of this performance.)
The performance by the cast of Glee

  • Post-Listening Read another story with the “don’t stop believin’” theme. Two stories in True Storieswould be a good fit for this song: “Try, Try Again,“ about a woman who passes her driver’s license test on the 950th try, and “The Champion,”  about an Olympic hopeful who makes a stunning comeback after a devastating accident. Another good fit for this song is the story about the singer Kelly Clarkson, a “small-town girl” from Texas, in True Stories Behind the Songs, Unit 4. A free audio recording of this story, titled “Take a Chance,” is available on the Pearson Education catalog website.
    • Post-Listening Practice forming sentences with participial phrases by playing the alibi game. Set the game up this way:
    1. Tell students there has been a crime. Examples:

    At 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, there was a bank robbery.
    Yesterday between 2 and 4 PM, a candy bar went missing from the teacher’s desk drawer.

    2. Working as a class, students come up with possible alibis for the suspects, for example:

    At 4 o’clock, we were at a café, eating pie and drinking coffee.
    At 4 o’clock, we were in an airplane, flying to New York City.

    All alibis should be in this form:

    At ____________ (time), we were ____________ (place), ____________ (participial phrase).

    3. Write the alibis on the board. Students choose the best alibi.

    4. Two students volunteer to be the suspects. They leave the room.

    5. Working together, the remaining students (the detectives) make a list of questions they’ll ask the suspects when they return. (For example: What is the name of the café? What kind of pie did you eat?) Meanwhile, in another room, the suspects try to guess what the detectives will ask them and decide on a story to make sure they have the same facts.

    6. One at a time, the suspects return to the classroom. The detectives ask each suspect the same questions and record their answers.

    7. The detectives compare the answers given by each suspect and decide if the suspects are guilty or not guilty, based on how well their stories match.