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A song as a complex tool for learning IV. part

19. 3. 2010 Základní vzdělávání
Tereza Šmídová


Čtvrtý díl v řadě písňových textů nabízí způsob jak z hudební produkce a textu písně efektivně vystavit jazykovou hodinu, a tím ukáže, že hudba (píseň) nabízí a pokrývá všechny aspekty, které by neměly chybět v kvalitní hodině cizího jazyka. Námětem pro dva plány hodiny se staly písně Niny Simone (Ain´t got no/I´ve got life) a Johna Lennona (Imagine). V plánu hodiny jsou popsány dílčí cíle aktivit i hlavní cíl hodiny a využívá mj. metodu činnostního učení.

It is strongly advisable to work on all different areas that are offered in a single song, all of which we intend to practise. This section serves teachers to cover some ideas using a song in the classroom as a complex thing.

The following lines demonstrate how a few methodical ideas mentioned in the previous articles (I.,II and III. part) can be applied. The two elaborate lesson plans are being introduced here in concrete procedures and exercises with corresponding methodological explanations. There are two songs, the material of each can be dealt with in one or more lessons (f.e. watching a  documentary movie about John Lennon/Beatles or Hair musical as a follow-up), all of which depends on teachers´ decision and pupils´ pace and mood.


Topic: Value in life

Song Ain´t got no/I´ve got life by Nina Simone

Level: pre-intermediate, 6th7th8 thgrade (teacher´s decision)

Grammar: “have got” in interrogative and affirmative

Vocabulary: common objects, body parts

Pronunciation: short and long vowels

Skills: reading, listening, speaking, writing

Aim: To revise and build the vocabulary of body parts

To introduce a non-standard version of “have got”

To listen for specific information

Aids: flashcard 1- common objects, flashcard 2 – parts of body, worksheets, CD player

Procedure: Inter.T-Ss, 5 min.

1) Warm-up: Film Hair – play a short part, scene f.e. a rock concert scene and try to elicit from pupils some specific questions about the scene; What do people wear? Can you guess the place? What do people do apart from watching the band? (some verbs: smoking, clapping hands, shouting, drinking, jumping, dancing, chatting..)  Teacher writes hints on the board.

Pupils do this to meet the atmosphere of the 60´s in America and revise the verbs of movement.

2) Lead-in:  Inter. S-T, T-S, 2 min.

Teacher extends the vocabulary on the board: hippies, 60´s, America, big movement, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll. What do these words have in common? Do you know something about it? Characterize people life-styles. Have you seen the musical HAIR? Do you remember the story?

This activity serves well as a brainstorming session to introduce the topic. If pupils saw the musical they have already associated it with the kind of music we are about to use in the next step.

3) Pre-listening stage:  Pupils are given the title of the song. Can you predict what is missing in the title? Ain´t got no.... What do these kinds of people prefer having? What don´t they want to have? The teacher elicits ideas.

4) While-listening stage:    Inter. S-S, T-S, 15 min.

a) Pupils are given the first flashcards. They should identify the objects and the teacher plays first part of recording. Pupils raise flashcards while they are listening, every time the word appears.

b) They are given the first part of lyrics with 8 missing common objects and do the gap-fill. Pupils check it with the teacher in the feedback.

c) The teacher gives the pupil the second part of lyrics and asks pupils to identify the body parts here. Will you be able to predict the missing ones?

Pupils try to fill in some parts of body according to rhyming words.

d) Play the recording. Pupils put the lyrics aside and rely only on listening. In pairs, they try to point at different body parts of their partners while they are listening to it.

e) Pupils should hear it again to fill in the gaps of the second part.

f) Finally, even though the pace is quite quick, they could try to sing it with the teacher for the third time.

These listening exercises train listening for specific information. Pictures and movement serves as an imediate comprehension check and help pupils to remember vocabulary and structures more effectively.

5) Post-listening stage:        Inter.S-S, 10 min.

Work in pairs:

a) Vocabulary spot

Here are the definitions of some words that appear in the song. You may use your dictionary. Find the word which refers to: in this context, 2.knowledge about art and literature,, 4. the red liquid that flows through your body, 5. the noun from “free”, 6. the spiritual part of a person, 7. a piece of paper or plastic that you can use to buy things, 8. the part of body that cleans your blood.

b) Pronunciation spot: Do you understand what these mean? Match the words and phrases:

IN SONG                                     GRAMMATICALLY   CORRECT

1. I ain´t (rich)                                     a. I don´t have

2. I ain´t got no (money)                      b. I´m going to.....

3. I wanna (be)                                    c. because

4. I´m gonna (leave you)                      d. I´m not...

5. Yeah                                               e. I want to...

6. ´cos / ´cause                                    f. Yes

These activities build up on lexis as well as raise pupils´ awareness that pop songs often use words and phrases which are non-standard English, therefore are gramatically incorrect.

c) Writing spot:  Inter. solo-work, 10 min.

Which possesion would you like to have and what would it be good for? Is there anything valuable which is not material? E.g. friendship, wisdom, etc.

Write a paragraph explaining this (at least 50 words).

This activity explores more thoroughly pupils´ opinions about the theme.

6) Feedback Inter.T-Ss, 5 min.

Teacher supports pupils´ evaluation of the work done in this class. Teacher asks questions about f.e. what pupils have learned, what they have acquired, what new vocabulary they can remember.  Teacher also tries to avoid irrelevant answers, e.g. recounting the procedures.

7) Homework assignement

8) Closure: Teacher revising and summarising and evaluating students´ progress.


Theme: Peace versus War
Song Imagine by John Lennon

: Activity-based learning

Skills: Listening, speaking, reading, vocabulary – abstract nouns

Level: pre-intermediate, 8 th 9th grade (teacher´s decision)

Grammar: Second Conditional

Procedures:        Interact. T-Ss, 4 min.

1) Pre-listening stage: Look at the pairs of phrases below and mark them S if they have the same meaning and D if they are different. You may use your dictionary to check.

e.g.: peace/war   D

greed/hunger         to share/to join     above us/below us               heaven/the sky

t´s easy/it isn´t hard            heaven/hell                       a dreamer/a madman

to kill/to die                                 to imagine/to wonder

Interact. Pair work, 5 min.

2)  Introducing new lexical items (optional) to help the pupils get the meaning by matching the words and their definitions: (If the vocabulary seems pretty difficult for your class, you may use flashcards with a dreamer..etc. to help them realize the words)

a. dreamer              A. a need for food or money

b. hunger                B. a place regarded in some religions to be home of God

c. possessions         C.  somebody who is always dreaming

d. greed                  D. community of feeling between all human beings

e. heaven                E. the opposite of heaven

f. brotherhood          F. a feeling of pain caused by a lack of food

g. hell                     G. freedom from war

h. peace                  H. things that belong to you


3)While-listening stage:

Step 1  (first time listening)                                            Inter. Ss-Ss, 5 min.

Each pupil chooses a word their teacher wrote on the blackboard: f.e. life, imagine, us, world.

Pupils´task is to stand up and sit down every time he/she hears the chosen word. A teacher plays a recording and some pupils 3,4 (depends on the class size) move at the same time.

Step 2 (second time listening)                                         Inter. Ss-Ss, 5 min.

Teacher introduces symbols (gestures) which pupils should show when they hear these song words: (teacher´s own selection of words)

Above – pointing upwards

Below – pointing on the ground

Try – thumb up, go for it!

Imagine – touching the head with facial expression that I have an idea!

No, nothing – arms folded as a refusal

All – arms wide open

When students are familiar with the symbols, a teacher plays the recording;

Imagine there is no heaven,
It’s easy if you try.
No hell below us,

Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there is no countries,
It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for,

No religion too,
Imagine all the people,
Living life in peace…

Imagine no countries
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger,

A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people,
Sharing all the world….

You may say I am dreamer,
But I am not the only one,
I hope some day you’ll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Pupils practise listening for specific information with the integration of activity-based learning.

4) Post-listening stage:      Inter. group work, 10 min.

Tick the things below that John Lenon thought were good. Write a cross next to the ones he thought were bad.

living in peace                      brotherhood            heaven                 possesions

dreamers                 hunger                    living for today             greed

countries                     hell

Which of his ideas do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? What would the world be like without any wars? What possessions would you happily live without? What possessions wouldn’t you live without?

This follow up serves as a checking activity for  pupils – did they understand the message of a song?  Pupils join in the discussion about the imaginary situations our world could be in. It stimulates them to think about their own way of living.

5) Follow-up: A teacher invites pupils to make their own suggestions, as much as they can. It can be unrealistic or even absurd. (Again depends on the class level)                      Inter.solo-work,pair work, 5 min.

Grammar practice: Finish the sentence using 2nd conditional structure:

a/ If there was no war…

b/ If there were no possessions…

c/ If there was no money…

d/ If there was only one language round the world…

e/ If there were no men/no women…

Pupils try to drill a new structure as a necesary practice stage of a lesson.

6) Speaking: If you were…     Inter. Ss-Ss, 6 min.

If you were the prime minister or president of your country, what would you do? Look at the ideas below;

  • build better hospitals/schools
  • pay teachers/politicians more
  • open more universities/cinemas
  • make the weekend four days long/the working day shorter
  • make the army bigger/smaller
  • build more roads/shopping malls
  • clean up cities/rivers
  • give more money to the retired/the unemployed

Compare answers with other upils. Tell your partner about anything else that you would do, if you were the president.

e.g. I would definitely build better ...

I think I´d pay doctors more...

Student reinforce the use of second conditional in a speaking task.

7) Feedback Inter. Ss-T, 5 min.

Pupils should try to evaluate their own and their classmates´work. So the teacher tries to elicit answers of what pupils have learned, what they have acquired, what new vocabulary they can use. Avoid answers on summarising on what pupils did.

8) Homework assignement

9) Closure: Teacher praises his pupils and does the revision and summarises what pupils have learnt.






Oxenden, Clive, Latham-Koenig, Christina. New English File. Oxford : OUP, 2006.
Cunnigham, Sarah, Moor, Peter and Carr, Jane Comyns. New Cutting Edge. Pearson Longman, 2005.


Všechny články jsou publikovány pod licencí Creative Commons BY-NC-ND.

Tereza Šmídová

Hodnocení od uživatelů

Martin Rusek
19. 3. 2010, 18:27
Dobrý den, dovolte mi diskutovat k Vašemi článku.
Opravte mě prosím, jestli se mýlím, ale za nevhodnou formulaci považuji výraz gramatically correct. Budí totiž dojem, že v písničce použité výrazy jsou gramaticky chybně. Výraz I ain't je pouze méně užívanou formou I'm not, u it isn't nepochybujeme, že je to pouze stažený, gramaticky správný, tvar. Navrhuji přepsat tuto část na: IN SONG (colloquial expressions) a např. FORMAL EXPRESSION.
Také, z pozice aprobace s informatikou, bych rád upozornil na typografický nedostatek způsobený pravděpodobně psaním v editačním prostředí. Apostrof by měl být psán znakem "'"(s Shiftem klávesa vedle backspace) nikoli "´". Podle mého názoru je důležité, aby žáci používali tyto znaky správně.

Jinak bych rád složil kompliment za připravené aktivity, určitě alespoň některé využiji.

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