“Wonderful World”

Sam Cooke, 1960

The topic of noun clauses is usually not addressed until the intermediate or advanced level. Yet the reality is that lower-level students encounter noun clauses regularly in everyday speech, in sentences such as Do you know where my keys are? This grammar-based lesson gives students practice using noun clauses without making it necessary to go into lengthy explanations or even using the words noun clause. It is a companion to the lesson for “As Long As You Love Me.” You can do either lesson first.

The song that culminates this lesson,”Wonderful World,” has clear, classroom-friendly lyrics with a few simple noun clauses.

Some record companies have revived interest in older songs like this one by making lyric videos for them. The 2015 lyric video for this song works particularly well in the language classroom. Historic scenes  flash on the screen while the music plays.

Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Introduce the use of noun clauses as direct objects. You could structure the activity this way:
  1. Scatter some of your personal items around the classroom–for example, put your pen on a bookcase, your briefcase on the floor, etc.
  2. Ask students, “Where is my pen?” Students answer, “It’s on the bookcase.”
  3. Rephrase the question this way: “Do you know where my pen is?” Point out the new position of the word is. Explain that the words where my pen is no longer form a question—the words are now part of a question—so question word order is not used. Find all your misplaced items by asking the class questions beginning Do you know where or Does anybody know where.
  4. Move students’ personal items around the room—put one student’s pen on another’s desk, one student’s jacket on the back of another student’s chair, etc. Students reclaim their items by asking, “Do you know where my _______ is?” The student who has the missing item says, “I have it” and returns it to its owner.

If you choose to explain what a noun clause is, here is a definition from the website of the British Council that you might find helpful:

A noun clause is a clause that is used in the same way as a noun or a pronoun. Example: I know what he was doing there. A way for learners to identify a noun clause is for them to change the noun clause for ‘it’, ‘he’ or ‘she’ and see if it still works. Noun clauses are a useful area to explore with more advanced learners, who can make their language more sophisticated by extending the complexity of noun clauses they use.

Note that the British Council suggests exploring this concept with advanced learners; however, I introduced it to my high-beginning class without using the words noun clause or going into a lengthy explanation, and my students quickly grasped the idea of repositioning the verb in sentences beginning with Do you know.

  • Pre-Listening Practice forming questions beginning with Do you know followed by a noun clause. The worksheet below is for levels high beginning and up. Permission granted to duplicate for classroom use.

noun clauses, do you know, Level 1.docx          noun clauses, do you know, Level 1.pdf

The worksheet below is for levels intermediate and up. Permission granted to duplicate for classroom use.

noun clauses, do you know, Level 2.docx          noun clauses, do you know, Level 2.pdf

  • Pre-Listening Complete the lyrics worksheet below, which focuses on rhyming words in the song. Lyrics intended for nonprofit educational use only.

wonderful world, cloze.docx          wonderful world, cloze.pdf

  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. (An audio-only version is on YouTube.)
  • Listening Sing along while listening to the song and reading the lyrics. My high-beginning students sang verses 1-4.
  • Listening Watch the official lyrics video.
  • Post-Listening Watch the dance scene from the movie Witness. (It is on YouTube, but the clip is not licensed, so no link is provided here.) In this scene, the character played by Harrison Ford dances with an Amish widow while singing this song. (He has fallen in love with her while hiding from bad guys on her farm.) The scene is romantic, but not explicit, and it is appropriate for most teenagers and adults.
  • Post-Listening If you teach higher levels, you could use this lesson as an introduction to noun clauses, following up, for example, with Chapter 12 in Azar’s Understanding and Using Grammar. A nice follow up to the worksheets in this lesson would be the downloadable teacher-created worksheet under Chapter 12 on the AzarGrammar site. It’s titled “Interview with Americans,” but it could easily be adapted for other countries. Another song with a lot of noun clauses is “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. Annotated lyrics are in the Lesson Plan for that song.