“True Colors”

Cyndi Lauper, 1986
Lyrics videos, 2016 and 2019

This 1986 song has been revitalized by two lyrics videos: the 2019 video with Cyndi Lauper and the 2016 video with Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick.  The language and images in the lyrics videos are appropriate for all classrooms. Combined with the “compliments” activity below, this song would be a upbeat way to end a semester or school year.

Choose from the following activities:

  • Listening Watch either the 2016 lyrics video or the 2019 lyrics video. (The 2016 Timberlake/Kendrick video is easier to understand.)
  • Listening Listen to the song, audio only, while filling in the missing adjectives in the song. Lyrics intended for non-profit educational purposes only. For levels beginning and up.

true colors, lyrics cloze.docx          true colors, lyrics cloze.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch Cyndi Lauper’s live performance of the song. Your students might also enjoy these covers of the song: a brother-sister duet by Joshua and Erin Evans; the cover in Spanish by the Rubios. (The Spanish version is not a word-for-word translation.)
  • Post-Listening The song repeats the participial phrase shining through in the phrase “I see your true colors shining through.” The exercise below gives students practice using participial phrases. Permission granted to duplicate for classroom use. For levels low intermediate and up.

participial phrases.docx          participial phrases.pdf

  • Post-Listening The line “I see your true colors shining through” could be the springboard for an activity in which students compliment one another. (The activity works best at the end of the school year, after students have gotten to know one another.) First, preface the activity by brainstorming with the class to come up with a list of appropriate compliments. Then structure the activity in one of two ways: 1) Students write their names at the top of a piece of paper and then sit in a circle. The papers get passed to the right, and each student writes a compliment about the student whose name is at the top of the paper. After a short period of time, the papers are passed to the right again. Students continue passing the papers until each paper is full of compliments. OR 2) One at a time, students sit with their backs to the board while their classmates write compliments about them. For an example, please see the video from an eighth-grade class in the United States. (Of course, compliments are given more readily in some cultures than others; teachers will need to assess how comfortable their students would be with this activity.)