Lesson Plans

  • Do you want to bring a hit song into your classroom–but are not sure how to use the song as a teaching tool? Below are lesson plan ideas in two categories: Recent Hits and Classic Hits. (For a complete list of over 200 classroom-friendly songs by theme, please see the List of Songs.)
  • Not sure what kinds of music your students like? Get a quick snapshot of their musical preferences and experiences with the One-Question Interview, an interactive, low-prep activity.
  • Interested in seeing how the ideas below work in a real-life classroom? I taught a “Songs” class to Mexican university students in the U.S. for an intensive 4-week program. (My class met for an hour once a week and was the “fun” class!) In the Teaching Blog at the bottom of this page, I share what I did in each class and how it went.
  • Updates on Facebook: This site now has a companion Facebook page, where I’ll post notifications of newly added lesson plans.

Lesson Plans for Recent Hits (2015-2017)

Can’t Stop the Feeling | The Castle on the Hill Fight Song | Hello | Lost Boy
Love Yourself | One Call Away | Renegades | See You Again
7 Years | Stressed Out | When We Were Young

Lesson Plans for Classic Hits (1964-2010)

A Change Is Gonna Come | Don’t Stop Believin’I Will Remember You
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free | Make You Feel My Love                            The Sound of Sunshine

Can’t Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, 2016)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to a recording of the song while reading the annotated lyrics below. On most lyrics websites, the word wavy is transcribed as wavey, slang for drunk or high on drugs. Or maybe the word was simply misspelled. In any case, in the lyrics below it is transcribed as wavy, which makes sense in context and also makes the lyrics more classroom friendly. This song is appropriate for most classrooms, but previewing the lyrics is advised.

can’t stop the feeling, lyrics.docx          can’t stop the feeling, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official video, which is appropriate for the classroom.
  • Post-Listening Follow the video with the “Opinion, Please” activity. The official video for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” features people from Los Angeles dancing where they live and work. The video invites a discussion about how comfortable students would be with having a video of them posted on the Internet.

Structure the activity this way:

  1. On opposite ends of the board, in big letters, write YES and NO.
  2. Present the class with this scenario: Imagine that a friend took a video of you doing something you do very well–for example, dancing, playing soccer, singing, or cooking. Your friend wants to post the video on YouTube and asks your permission. What will you say–yes or no? Give students time to think about their answer or, better yet, to jot down the reason for their response.
  3. Activities images-10 - Version 2Students walk to the front of the room and stand next to the answer that reflects their opinion. Ask volunteers to explain why they chose that answer.
  • Post-Listening Line up according to who is the best dancer. The song and video are all about dancing. Who in the class is good at dancing? Find out by asking your students to rate their dancing on this scale: excellent, good, OK, not very good, or terrible. Then have them line up according to their self-described talent in dancing, with the “excellent” dancers at one end and the “terrible” dancers at the other. To form the line, they need to ask one another: Are you a good dancer? This activity might lead to a discussion on what types of dancing students like to do and could even lead to an offer to demonstrate dancing skills. (Note: Personalizing the topic “dancing” to this degree might make some students uncomfortable. If you think it might make your students ill at ease, you would, of course, want to forgo this activity.)
  • Post-Listening Practice using I’ve got it and I’ve got ’em. This song repeats the phrase I got many times. (In informal spoken English, people sometimes drop the ‘ve in I’ve got–they say I got.) In the interactive worksheets below, students practice saying I’ve got it and I’ve got ’em when going over a list of what they’ll take to a picnic, when traveling to Wisconsin, or when traveling to Hawaii. (These worksheets are 3 versions of the same activity–going over a checklist. I use the worksheet that’s most appropriate for the season and students I’m working with.)  Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use. Accompany the worksheet with this activity: Distribute common items (a comb, a pen, a magazine, etc.) to students, one item to each student. Ask students, “Who has the _________?” (For example, Who has the comb?) The student who has the item answers, “I’ve got it” and gives it back.

    picnic.docx          picnic.pdf

    packing-list-Wisconsin.docx          packing-list-Wisconsin.pdf

    packing-list-Hawaii.docx          packing-list-Hawaii.pdf

  • Post-Listening Sing along. Never underestimate the power of motivation when assessing a song’s potential as a sing-along! I didn’t think this verse was particularly easy to sing, but my class loved singing it. It’s repeated twice.

    I got that sunshine in my pocket
    Got that good soul in my feet
    Feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
    I can’t take my eyes off of it, moving so phenomenally
    Room on lock the way we rock it, so don’t stop

Fight Song (Rachel Platten, 2015)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to a recording of “Fight Song” without the lyrics. Students jot down five words in the song that they are sure they know. When the recording is finished, students volunteer their lists of words, and you write them on the board. My low-intermediate class contributed these words: smalloceanheartexplosionbrainvoicefightlifebelieve, and bones. Ask students to guess what the song is about. (Variation Rather than write down words, students draw pictures of things they hear mentioned in the song. Then they exchange papers with a partner and try to identify what their partner has drawn. This idea is from Nico Lorenzutti’s article “Beyond the Gap Fill: Dynamic Activities for Song in the EFL Classroom” (English Teaching Forum, Number 1, 2014). He says students often laugh and smile while trying to decipher their partner’s drawings.
  • Listening Listen to the song a second time while reading the lyrics. (Most Internet lyrics for this song are accurate.)
  • Post-Listening Read the high-beginning story behind the song, titled “Everybody’s Fight Song.” Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.
  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video for “Fight Song.” (The video depicts events in the story, so students should read the story behind the song first.)
  • Post-Listening Speak the chorus. Students read the chorus aloud, maintaining the rhythm of the song and emphasizing the syllables that are accented when the song is sung. (For more on this activity, please see Activity #6: Singing or Speaking the Chorus.)

This is my fight song–
Take back my life song,
Prove I’m all right song.
My power’s turned on.
Starting right now, I’ll be strong.
I’ll play my fight song.
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

  • Post-Listening Draw-Write-Share: What Are You Fighting For? Students sketch someone or something they are fighting for. Under their drawing, they write a few sentences about their picture. Then they share their drawing and their writing with a partner or in a small group. (For more on this activity, please Activity #3: Class Discussion on a Song’s Theme.) My students, four women in their thirties, all drew pictures of their families. Here are some of the sentences they wrote under their drawings.
  • I am fighting to keep my family together.
  • I am fighting to learn English. I have to help my daughter. She needs help with her homework.
  • I am fighting to get a better job. If I reach my goal, I can provide a better life for my kids.
  • Post-Listening Read a story on the theme “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.” If you use the True Stories reading series, you could follow up with the story “The Champion” in True Stories in the News, about an Olympic hopeful who makes a comeback after losing his hand in an accident.

Hello (Adele, 2015)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. (Most Internet lyrics for this song are accurate.)
  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video.
  • Post-Listening Read the beginning-level story behind the song, titled “Hello, Adele.” Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.
  • Post-Listening Practice using gerunds as objects of prepositions. Adele repeats the line I’m sorry for breaking your heart three times in the song–a perfect example of using a gerund (breaking) as the object of a preposition (for). First, have students watch the Talking Heads video at AzarGrammar.com, which explains how gerunds work. Then have them complete the worksheet below, suggested for levels intermediate and above. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

preposition + gerund.docx          preposition + gerund.pdf

Lost Boy (Ruth B., 2016)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Read the high-beginning story behind the song, titled “Finding Your Neverland.” Reading the story before listening to the song is advised; the song makes more sense if students have some familiarity with Peter Pan and the other characters who live in the fictional world of Neverland. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.
  • Listening Target the 14 past-tense verbs in the lyrics cloze exercise below. Then listen to the song while reading the lyrics.

Lost Boy, cloze.docx          Lost Boy, cloze.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video.
  • Post-Listening Talk about the idea of Neverland—a person, hobby, sport, or anything that helps you feel at home. Structure the discussion with the Draw-Write-Share activity below. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

Who or What Helps You?.docx          Who or What Helps You?.pdf

Love Yourself (Justin Bieber, 2015)
Choose from the activities below. (One word of caution: The line And now I know: I’m better sleeping on my own might make this song inappropriate for some classrooms.)

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the annotated lyrics below.

Love Yourself, lyrics.docx          Love Yourself, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official video. It features dancers who are married in real life and is appropriate for most classrooms, although previewing is advised.
  • Post-Listening Summarize the video, which tells a story. For step-by-step instructions for structuring a summarizing activity, please see Activity #2: Summarizing. Working together, my low-intermediate students wrote this summary of the video:

A couple is having a difficult time.
She thinks only of herself.
He tries to fix the problem.
He tries to communicate, but she doesn’t care.
She doesn’t love him.
He recognizes it’s not a good idea to be together.
She wakes up.
He’s gone.

  • Post-Listening Sing the song’s chorus, which is repeated four times. It’s easy and fun to sing.

‘Cause if you like / the way / you look that much,
Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself.
And if you think / that I’m / still holdin’ on to somethin’,
You should go and love yourself.

Below is an audio clip of my class singing the chorus.

  • Post-Listening Practice using reflexive pronouns. The song repeats the phrase love yourself eight times, so it invites a grammar lesson on reflexive pronouns. First, have students watch the “Talking Heads” video at AzarGrammar.com, which explains how reflexive pronouns work. Then have students complete the worksheet below. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

reflexive pronouns.docx          reflexive pronouns.pdf

One Call Away (Charlie Puth, 2016)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Read through the lyrics. Clarify the annotated expressions.

One Call Away, lyrics.docx          One Call Away, lyrics.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics.
  • Post-Listening Watch the official video.
  • Post-Listening Summarize the video, which tells a story. Working together, my high-beginning students wrote the summary below. I followed up with the “Disappearing Summary” activity described in Activity #2: Summarizing.

He is in love.
But she has a boyfriend.
Her boyfriend is mean.
He thinks about her, but he doesn’t say anything.
He gives her a surprise.
It’s a movie especially for her.

  • Post-Listening Practice offering help and making promises using the construction I’ll + a verb in the simple form. This construction is used in the line I’ll be there to save the day, which is both an offer to help and a promise. The line is repeated four times in the song. The first worksheet below focuses on making offers to help. The second worksheet/activity focuses on making promises. Both worksheets are for levels high beginning and up, although the worksheet “making promises” is slightly more difficult. Part 2 of the “making promises” worksheet asks students to evaluate promises (all beginning with I will) that people make when they get married. It prompted a lot of interaction and laughter in my class of adults in their 20s and 30s. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

will, offering to help.docx     will, offering to help.pdf

will, making promises.docx          will, making promises.pdf

  • Post-Listening Draw-Write-Share: Keeping in Touch. Students sketch someone they love and don’t see often. They answer a few questions under their drawing, then share their drawing and their writing with a partner or in a small group. (For more on this activity, please Activity #3: Class Discussion on a Song’s Theme.) This activity is for levels beginning and up. In my class, the activity stretched beyond the time I had allotted for it because students were exchanging information on apps that helped them keep in touch with friends and family far away. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

keeping in touch.docx         keeping in touch.pdf

  • Post-Listening Sing along with the chorus as the the song plays a final time. I had thought the chorus was too difficult to sing, but many of my students spontaneously sang it.

I’m only one call away.
I’ll be there to save the day.
Superman got nothing on me.
I’m only one call away.

Renegades (X Ambassadors, 2015)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. The lyrics below have low-frequency words crossed out. Assure students that they can understand the gist of the song without getting bogged down by those words. 

Renegades, lyrics.docx          Renegades, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read the high-beginning story behind the song, titled “Two Brothers and a Band.” The story explains why the band’s singer calls the official video for this song “personal.”
  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video, in which physically disabled people do amazing things.
  • Post-Listening Sing along with the chorus. It’s easy and fun to sing.

And I say hey
Hey, hey, hey
Living like we’re renegades
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Living like we’re renegades
Renegades, renegades

  • Post-Listening Personalize the chorus. Students replace the line Living like we’re renegades with their own lines. After each student says his or her line, the whole class sings Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. For examples and an audio clip from my class, scroll to the end of Activity #5: Writing New Song Lyrics.

See You Again (Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa, 2015)
Choose from the following activities. (One word of caution: The word damn in the line Damn, who knew? might make this song inappropriate for some student populations.)

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. Encourage students to focus on understanding the lyrics of the chorus, which are straightforward and easy to understand. Internet lyrics for this song tend to be accurate.
  • Post-Listening Read the poignant story behind the song “See You Again,” titled “The Prediction and the Promise.” It is written at the high-beginning level. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.
  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video.
  • Post-Listening Draw-Write-Share. Students imagine they haven’t seen their best friend in a year. When they see each other again, what will they tell their friend? They draw pictures of four events that happened in their lives during the past year and write a sentence about each picture. Then they share their drawings and their writing with a partner. (For more on this activity, please see Activity #3: Class Discussion on a Song’s Theme.) Permission is granted to reproduce the worksheet below for classroom use.

see you again wksheet.docx          see you again wksheet.pdf

It’s been a long day without you, my friend.
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.
We’ve come a long way from where we began.
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.

  • Post-Listening Contrast the use of it’s been vs. it was. The song repeats the sentence It’s been a long day without you, my friend three times. Follow up with the worksheet below. Because the activity focuses on just the phrases it’s been vs. it was, it can be successful for levels as low as high beginning. Permission is granted to reproduce for classroom use.

it was vs. it’s been.docx          it was vs. it’s been.pdf

You’ll find another follow-up activity at AzarGrammar.com–the Chapter 4 intermediate-level worksheet submitted by the teachers at Edmonds Community College titled “Past vs. Present Perfect.”

  • Post-Listening Read another story with the “see you again” theme. If you use the True Stories reading series, you could follow up with “Old Friends,” about the friendship between a Chinese boy and US soldiers in 1945 and their reunion many years later.

7 Years (Lukas Graham, 2015)
This song’s themes make it ideal as a springboard for several class discussions. Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Discuss life’s best age. Structure the discussion with the Four Corners activity. Write the numbers 11, 20, 30, and 60–the ages the songwriter describes in the song–on four pieces of paper. Post one number in each corner of the room. Ask students, “Which is the best age?” Students stand next to their answer. Working together, students in each corner make a list of reasons why that is the best age. One spokesperson for each group reports the reasons to the class.
  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the punctuated, annotated lyrics below.

7 Years, lyrics.docx     7 Years, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official video. There are two official videos; the video with the montage of family photos is recommended.
  • Post-Listening Discuss important years. The songwriter reflects back on when he was 7, 11, and 20 years old, so the song invites a discussion about important years in students’ lives. Structure the activity with the reproducible interactive worksheet below for levels high-beginning and above. (Students need to be able to form questions in the past tense.) I found the idea for this activity on the website of the Minnesota Literacy Council under “Tutor Tips” for volunteers, a great resource for practical, creative ideas.

important years.docx          important years.pdf

  • Post-Listening Interview your future self. The songwriter imagines what his life will be like when he’s 30 and 60. To follow up on this theme, ask students to have a conversation with themselves at a future age. I found a great model for structuring the activity at lessonplansdigger.com.
  • Post-Listening Discuss “Rules to Live By.” The songwriter shares the advice his parents gave him at ages 7 and 11. Follow up by asking students, “What are two rules to live by–rules that all children should know?” They write their rules on a sheet of paper. Then they walk around the room and share their two rules with a classmate. They memorize one of their classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They share those three rules with another classmate. They memorize one of that classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They share those four rules with yet another classmate. They memorize one of that classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They return to their seats with their list of five rules. Students share rules they particularly like with the class. I found the idea for this activity in the resource book  Zero Prep by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. (p. 22, “Building Up a Chain: Rules to Live By.”)
  • Post-Listening Use the phrase I started writing songs as the springboard for a grammar lesson. The verb start is one of a group of verbs that can be followed with either an infinitive (I started to write songs) or a gerund (I started writing songs). Other verbs in this group are begin, continue, like, love, hate, and can’t stand. The interactive worksheet below gives students practice with this group of verbs. For levels intermediate and up.

infinitive-or-gerund.docx          infinitive-or-gerund.pdf

Stressed Out (Twenty One Pilots, 2015)
This song works best with students at the intermediate level and above. Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. Unfortunately, the lyrics on most lyrics websites are inaccurate. Punctuated, correct lyrics are below.

 Stressed Out, lyrics.docx     Stressed Out, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official music video.
  • Post-Listening Practice the construction wish + simple past to make a wish in the present, a construction that is used ten times in the song. (I wish I had a better voiceWish we could turn back time, etc.) Permission is granted to reproduce the worksheet below for classroom use.

wish worksheet.docx          wish worksheet.pdf

  • Post-Listening Practice the construction wish + simple past to make a wish in the present by playing the Memory Circle game. First, have students complete one of  the sentences below:

I wish I had _______________________________.
I wish I could _______________________________.
I wish I didn’t have to _______________________________.

Students form a circle and follow the steps below. (A circle should not contain more than 12 students, so they may need to form several circles.)

  1. Student 1 says the sentence he/she wrote. (For example, I wish I had more time to study.)
  2. Student 2 repeats what Student 1 said. (For example, Maria wishes she had more time to study.)
  3. Student 2 then adds his/her own sentence. (For example, I wish I had a new car.)
  4. Student 3 repeats what Students 1 and 2 said. (For example, Maria wishes she had more time to study. Yoshi wishes he had a new car.)
  5. Student 3 adds his/her own sentence.
  6. Students continue going around the circle, repeating what the other students said, in order, and then adding his/her own sentence.
  7. After the last student says all the sentences, ask students to give him/her a round of applause. (It’s not easy to be the last student!)

When We Were Young (Adele, 2015)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the annotated, punctuated lyrics below.

When We Were Young, lyrics.docx     When We Were Young, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the live studio performance on YouTube.
  • Post-Listening Practice using the word like, which is used in the song to make a comparison 14 times. Permission is granted to reproduce the high-beginning interactive worksheet below for classroom use. (If you use the Azar grammar series, you could follow up with the exercises on using like and alike in Basic English Grammar, pp. 473-474.)

comparisons with like.docx          comparisons with like.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read the story “The Return to Borovylanka” in More True Stories Behind the Songs, about a Siberian couple who unexpectedly meet again after 60 years apart.

Classic Hits:

A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke, 1964) 
The U.S. Library of Congress chose this song for preservation because of its historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance. Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Read the story behind the song, titled “No Rooms.” (Reading the story before listening is recommended; the song is even more powerful if students know the story behind it.) Permission is granted to reproduce the story for classroom use.
  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the annotated lyrics below.

     change is gonna come, lyrics.docx          change is gonna come, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official lyric video. This 2016 video shows the many civil-rights changes that have happened since Cooke’s 1964 song–changes that, unfortunately, he did not live to see.
  • Post-Listening Practice the use of it’s been vs. it was. The song repeats the phrase it’s been a long time comin’ four times–an example of using the present perfect tense for a situation that began in the past and continues into the present. The worksheet below, for levels high-beginning and up, contrasts the use of it’s been and it was.

it was vs. it’s been.docx          it was vs. it’s been.pdf

  • Post-Listening Talk about changes students want to see in themselves, in their communities, in their countries, or in the world. Structure the conversation with the activity below, for levels high beginning and up.

change activity.docx          change activity.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read another story with the “change” theme. If you use the True Stories reading series, you could follow up with the story “The School and the Stamp” (Unit 16 in More True Stories), about a family who successfully fought to change the “Mexican school” policy in Southern California.

I Will Remember You (Sarah McLachlan, 1999)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Predict the missing words. Students write the missing words in the lyrics worksheet below.

I Will Remember You, cloze.docx        I Will Remember You, cloze.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song. Students check the answers they wrote in the worksheet above.
  • Post-Listening Watch the official lyric video. (The video ends with a romantic kiss and may not be appropriate for all classrooms; previewing is advised.)
  • Post-Listening Practice using will to make promises. (The song repeats the promise I will remember you four times.) The worksheet below has two parts. Part 2 is a little more challenging. For levels high beginning and up.

will, making promises.docx          will, making promises.pdf

  • Post-Listening Practice the future tense with will by playing the Memory Circle game. First, each student writes a sentence beginning with I’ll. All the sentences should be related by topic–for example, students could write what they’ll remember from this year’s class (I’ll remember our Halloween party) or a life experience they’ll always remember (I’ll always remember the birth of my daughter). Then they form a circle and follow the steps below. (A circle should not contain more than 12 students, so they may need to form several circles.)
  1. Student 1 says the sentence he/she wrote. (For example, I’ll always remember the birth of my daughter.)
  2. Student 2 repeats what Student 1 said. (For example, Maria will always remember the birth of her daughter.)
  3. Student 2 then adds his/her own sentence. (For example, I’ll always remember the day I arrived in this country.)
  4. Student 3 repeats what Students 1 and 2 said. (For example, Maria will always remember the birth of her daughter. Yoshi will always remember the day he arrived in this country.)
  5. Student 3 adds his/her own sentence.
  6. Students continue going around the circle, repeating what the other students said, in order, and then adding his/her own sentence.
  7. After the last student says all the sentences, ask students to give him/her a round of applause. (It’s not easy to be the last student!)
  • Post-Listening Talk about people we will always remember. Structure the discussion as a Draw-Write-Share activity. First, students draw a picture of someone they’ll always remember. Under their drawing, they complete this sentence: I’ll never forget _________________ because ______________________. Then they share their drawing and their writing in a small group. This activity is from the resource book Drawing Out by Sharon Bassanno and Mary Ann Christison.
  • Post-Listening Talk about how we will be remembered. Structure the conversation with the interactive worksheet below, for levels high beginning and up. The worksheet gives students practice changing verbs in the simple present to the simple past.

remembering you.docx          remembering you.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read two stories about young men, one a soldier in WW I and the other a motorbike racer, who suffered temporary memory loss, including all memory of themselves. The beginning-level stories are in True Stories Behind the Songs, Unit 3.

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Nina Simone, 1967)
This song became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and would be a good fit thematically with many units. Its repetition of the phrase I wish also makes it ideal as a springboard for a grammar lesson. Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Practice expressing wishes about the present with the construction wish + a verb in past tense. The worksheet below is for levels intermediate and up.

     wish worksheet.docx          wish worksheet.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics below, with the phrases beginning I wish in boldface.

I Wish I Knew, lyrics.docx          I Wish I Knew, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Listen to the song again while filling in the missing phrases. This cloze exercise targets the construction wish + a verb in the past tense.

I Wish I Knew, cloze.docx          I Wish I Knew, cloze.pdf

  • Post-Listening Practice the construction wish + simple past to make a wish about the present by playing the Memory Circle game. First, have students complete one of  the sentences below:

I wish I had _______________________________.
I wish I could _______________________________.
I wish I didn’t have to _______________________________.

Students form a circle and follow the steps below. (A circle should not contain more than 12 students, so they may need to form several circles.)

  1. Student 1 says the sentence he/she wrote. (For example, I wish I had more time to study.)
  2. Student 2 repeats what Student 1 said. (For example, Maria wishes she had more time to study.)
  3. Student 2 then adds his/her own sentence. (For example, I wish I had a new car.)
  4. Student 3 repeats what Students 1 and 2 said. (For example, Maria wishes she had more time to study. Yoshi wishes he had a new car.)
  5. Student 3 adds his/her own sentence.
  6. Students continue going around the circle, repeating what the other students said, in order, and then adding his/her own sentence.
  7. After the last student says all the sentences, ask students to give him/her a round of applause. (It’s not easy to be the last student!)
  • Post-Listening Talk about where you would go if you could fly. Structure the discussion with the activity below.

if you could fly activity.docx          if you could fly activity.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read a story with the theme “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.” If you use the True Stories reading series, you could follow up with “Together Again” (Unit 14 in True Stories in the News), about a Cuban fighter pilot who escaped from Cuba in a military jet. Story 14 in More True Stories Behind the Songs, “Twelve Kilometers to a New Life,” is about East Germans who escaped to the West in a hot-air balloon.

Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan, 1997)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening (or Post-Listening) Read about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature. The one-page reading titled “Lyrics or Literature?” is for levels high beginning and up. It is based on Dylan’s thank-you speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony. (The entire speech is at nobelprize.org.)
  • Pre-Listening Fill in the missing rhyming words in the lyrics worksheet for “Make You Feel My Love.”

make-you-feel-my-love-cloze.docx          make-you-feel-my-love-cloze.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. (Lyrics are at bobdylan.com.)
  • Post-Listening Practice using the word could to express possibility. Call students’ attention to the three lines beginning I could (for example, I could make you happy). Explain that the songwriter is not referring to the past but to a possible future. Practice the construction this way: Pass around a gift-wrapped box that contains gifts for your students. (For example, the gifts could be small pieces of wrapped candy or ballpoint pens that you obtained free from a bank or business.) Encourage students to feel the box, shake it, and smell it, and then guess what its contents are. Each guess has to begin with the words It could be. After everyone has made a guess, students open the box. Alternately, you could have students take turns closing their eyes and reaching inside a box in which you’ve placed an oddly shaped item. They guess what the item could be.
  • Post-Listening Practice using I’d to talk about possible plans. Explain that I’d is a contraction for I would and call students’ attention to the sentences in the song beginning I’d and its negative I wouldn’t. Then ask students, “If you wanted to make someone fall in love with you, what would you do?” Women go to one corner of the room, the men to another corner, and each group makes a list of ideas beginning with I’d. Then the groups read their lists aloud to the class. Finally, the men tell the women what they thought the women’s best idea was, and the women tell the men what the men’s best idea was. Note: I noticed that my students, all in their early 20s, were engaged in this activity from start to finish. But if you think the personal nature of the question might make your students uncomfortable, you would, of course, want to forgo it.
  • Post-Listening Watch Adele’s official music video for “Make You Feel My Love.”
  • Post-Listening Listen to another Bob Dylan song, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The lesson plan provided as a pdf by AzarGrammar is recommended. Lyrics for this song are at bobdylan.com. The Peter, Paul, and Mary cover is also recommended.
  • Post-Listening If you want to follow up on the “make you feel my love” theme, a related story is in the beginning-level reader True Stories in the News. The story, titled “The Love Letters,” is about a young man who tries to convince his girlfriend to marry him by sending her more than 700 letters. (Although his letters don’t succeed in winning her hand in marriage, they do succeed in acquainting her with the mail carrier who delivered them.)

The Sound of Sunshine (Michael Franti & Spearhead, 2010)
Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Read the story behind the song, titled “Sunshine in a Song,” written in a hospital bed. Permission is granted to reproduce the story for classroom use.
  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics below, which are punctuated and annotated to facilitate comprehension.

sound of sunshine, lyrics.docx          sound of sunshine, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official video. It is not appropriate for all classrooms, so previewing is advised. A live performance, without the beach scenes, is appropriate for all classrooms.
  • Post-Listening Sing the chorus. It is in boldface in the lyrics above.
  • Post-Listening Write a Walking Dictation. (For step-by-step directions for a Walking Dictation, please see Activity #7: Walking Lyrics-Dictation.) Below is the student worksheet with nine phrases missing from the song (a cloze exercise), as well as a printout of the missing phrases for the teacher to post around the room.

sound of sunshine, cloze ex.docx          sound of sunshine, cloze ex.pdf

sound of sunshine, missing phrases.docx    sound of sunshine, missing phrases.pdf

  • Post-Listening Read another story with the “sunshine” theme. Story 2 in True Stories Behind the Songs, “Victor’s Private Guatemala,” is about a newcomer to New York suffering from lack of sunshine.

Teaching Blog

Class 1 

  • I started the class with the One-Question Interview on Music. The activity worked great as an ice-breaker on many levels. It turned out that the students, who’d just arrived the day before, didn’t know one another, so this gave them a chance to get acquainted. It also gave me a quick snapshot of both their proficiency in English (high-beginning to low-intermediate) and their musical tastes. I was relieved to learn from the one-question interview that the song I’d chosen for the first day—“Can’t Stop the Feeling”—was one of my students’ favorite songs in English.
  • The students listened to the song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” while reading the lyrics. (I assured them that it wasn’t important to understand every word.)
  • Picking up on the singer’s repeated use of the word got as meaning have, I spun off a lesson on the colloquial expressions I’ve got it and I’ve got ‘em. First we practiced with pictures I’d distributed (Who has the lamp? I’ve got it. Who has the towels? I’ve got ‘em.) Then students completed the interactive worksheet. (You’ll find the lyrics and the worksheet on the Lesson Plans page.)
  • We listened to the song again but this time sang along with verses 2 and 6.
  • We watched the music video. When the credits rolled at the end of the video, the students applauded the performers—a nice way to end Class 1.

Class 2