Teaching Blog (continued)
- Our fourth and final class had a theme: old songs, new covers. We listened to three songs that were given new life when contemporary artists recorded them: “Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan song, covered by Adele); “Pay Me My Money Down” (dockworkers’ and sailors’ song, covered by Bruce Springsteen); and “When I’m Gone” (1931 Carter Family song, covered by Anna Kendrick).
- First we listened to Bob Dylan’s version of “Make You Feel My Love” while reading the lyrics. Then I spun off two mini grammar lessons based on the lyrics. The first lesson was on using the word could to express possibility. I called students’ attention to the three lines beginning I could (for example, I could make you happy). I explained that the songwriter is not referring to the past but to a possible future. We practiced the construction this way: I passed around a gift-wrapped box which contained farewell gifts to the students from me. I encouraged them to feel the box, shake it, and smell it, and then guess what its contents were. Each guess had to begin with the words It could be. After everyone had made a guess, they opened the box. (The gifts were pens in the school color.)
- Next, we practiced using I’d to talk about possible plans. I explained that I’d is a contraction for I would and called students’ attention to the sentences in the song beginning I’d and its negative I wouldn’t. We practiced this way: I asked students, “If you wanted to make someone fall in love with you, what would you do?” The women retreated to one corner of the room, the men to another corner, and each group made a list of ideas beginning with I’d. Then the groups read their lists aloud to the class. Finally, the men told the women what they thought the women’s best idea was, and the women told the men what the men’s best idea was. (The men said the women’s best idea was I’d give him space, and the women said the men’s best idea was I’d send her text messages like “How’s your day going?” to show I’m really interested in her life.) I noticed that the men were intently listening when the women read their list aloud, and vice versa.
- We watched Adele’s official music video for “Make You Feel My Love.”
- The next song was “Pay Me My Money Down.” I briefly explained the song’s history. (Please see Unit 5, True Stories Behind the Songs.) We listened to Bruce Springsteen’s version of the song while reading the lyrics. Then we watched the official music video and sang along with the chorus.
- The final song was “When I’m Gone.” First, we listened to the song while reading the lyrics. The phrase you’re gonna is repeated 20 times in the song, so I spun off a mini lesson on using gonna for going to in spoken English. We practiced this way: I asked the students, “What are you gonna miss about Wisconsin when you go back to Mexico?” Students asked one another that question in the Moving Line. (For instructions for the Moving Line activity, please see my article ”Back to the Future: Low-Tech Activities for a High-Tech Classroom” in the Always ESL online newsletter.) This worked well not just as a follow-up activity to the song but as a culminating activity for the 4-week class.
- We watched the video for “When I’m Gone” (the famous “Cups” video).
At the end of our final class, I told my students, “I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone.” And I will.