The Cure (Pictures of You) – Present Perfect Continuous

This is quite a short one. I am a big believer in using music in the classroom but I like to use snippets of songs. I’ve always felt that if you use the whole song, you very often end up with students who hate the song. But, if you listen to one or two verses, they might go off and listen to it themselves.

If you would like to try other lessons using songs or snippets of songs, you could try:

  1. here
  2. or here
  3. or even here
  4. or maybe here
  5. Orrrrrrr…here
  6. Or finally, here
  7. …or here

I really like this song as they used present perfect continuous when I feel present perfect would have worked just as well. It’s the perfect opportunity for students to consider why someone might choose one over the other. The continuous aspect really conveys the singers emotion and emphasises how long they feel these actions have been going on for.

Having recently seen the wonderful Danny Norrington-Davies at the ELT Ireland conference, I have decided to take his approach to the grammar for this lesson. I have asked the students why the writer has used the Present Perfect Continuous and I want them to go beyond “It’s an action that started in the past and continued to the present and is still continuing”. I want to hear about the emotion that is being conveyed.

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you.

That I almost believe that they’re real.

I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you

That I almost believe that the pictures are, all I can feel.

Objective:

By the end of the lesson, the students will be more aware of the emotion that can be conveyed through the present perfect continuous.

Time: 1 hour (max)

Level: Intermediate and above

Material:

 

Procedure:

Intro:

  • T should fold the handout in half so that sts cannot see the lyrics.
  • T instructs sts to discuss the opening questions in small groups and then feeds back as a class.
  • This is a nice opportunity to look at language to discuss music. I’ve included “Taste in music” but I think others will emerge naturally e.g. “I’m not a fan of” “It’s not for me” “I’m not really into X music” “I’m more of a X person”.

Listening

  • T plays the opening 2mins of the song (or as much as they feel is necessary) and instructs sts to listen and consider the questions at the beginning of the listening section.
  • Sts discuss in pairs.
  • This is a nice opportunity to introduce the chunk “It makes me feel X” or “It sounds (like)”
  • T tells the students that this is a song by The Cure and it is on Youtube if they would like to listen to the whole song. Today, they are just going to listen to about 10 seconds of it and they will be using it for both grammar and pronunciation.
  • T plays the first verse (starting at about 2mins 35) and instructs sts to write everything they hear in the empty box. T replays the first verse 2-3 times and sts write down whatever they hear. After each play, give sts time to check with partners.
  • T instructs sts to unfold their handout and check their answers. Sts should circle any words they didn’t hear / heard incorrectly.
  • This is a wonderful chance for some listening skills reflection. Encourage sts to reflect on what / why they didn’t hear it. Was it:
    • because of the music? They will often have music in the background when listening. Is there anything they can do to help them in this situation?
    • because of the accent? What in particular surprised them? Focus on these words/phrases and drill them.
    • because of the vocabulary? Which words were new?
    • because of weak forms and connected speech? See Pron focus section

Language Focus

  • T directs sts to the language focus section (putting extra importance on the third question). Sts discuss the questions in pairs. T moves around and helps where necessary.
  • At this point you will find sts regurgitating a Raymond Murphy style explanation of the present perfect continuous. Try to discourage this and encourage sts to think why the writer chose to use this tense. 
  • T gives the sts a post-it note and asks them to write down their answer to the third question. T collects, places them on the board and gets sts to crowd around the board in their pairs and discuss the suggestions. They should choose their favourite answer.
  • While they are still standing, discuss their ideas as a class.
  • You are looking for something like: The writer wants to convey that they feel these actions have been ongoing for a long time. They want to emphasise the time over the action. Their emotions are being conveyed through this tense. The writer could have used present perfect as well but it would not have conveyed the same emotion and would have highlighted the action instead.

Pronunciation Focus

  • T moves to the pronunciation section and replays the song to allow sts to decide how “been” and “can” are pronounced.
  • Sts have often been encouraged to pronounce “been” with /i:/ but in natural speech it is closer to /bIn/. “Can” becomes /kən/. Drill the chunks as a class, correcting where necessary. 

Practice

  • Sts write their own version of the lyrics below, either keeping the song as a sad one or perhaps changing it to a happier one. Sts make a choice on which tense to use.
    • you can either play the song and they all sing their versions together for fun.
    • or you can get sts to read them out and practise the pronunciation.

 

Is the English Language sexist?

So this lesson uses a fantastic newspaper article from the Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/27/eight-words-sexism-heart-english-language

It was one of those things I read and knew I had to make a lesson about.

The lesson focuses on collocation, vocab building and reading skills if you fancy going down that route, as ever, you are welcome to pick and choose bits and pieces.

Aims: build awareness of collocation / get students to respond to a text naturally

Level: Advanced / strong upper Ints could cope if it is scaffolded

Time: This really depends on how the conversation part goes but you will need a bare minimum of 1hr, I think 1.30-2hrs is more realistic.

Procedure:

Introducing collocation:

  1. Ask St’s in pairs to come up with 6 collocations for ‘Pop’ on the worksheet.  They can then read the first paragraph of the text to check if there collocations were the same.
  2. Write the word ‘Rabid’ on the board. Now ask students to look at the second paragraph and look for the collocation for the word rabid.  Ask them to think about what the word ‘rabid’ means.
  3. Ask them to complete the second diagram using words from the text.
  4. Ask students to think about recording their new vocab along with words that collocate with them, to help them to be more natural when speaking and writing.  You could at this point direct them to the British National Corpus, or show them how to look for collocations online from any other sites you may use.

http://phrasesinenglish.org/searchBNC.html

Reading:

Feel free to completely change this section adding gist questions or scanning tasks, but what I wanted here was two things:

  • to get students to react in a more natural way to the text.
  • to get students to create their own questions to set for each other. ( I should add here that it was partly to encourage learner autonomy and to test their ability to write synonyms but also to get them to think about how an examiner might write the question.  Therefore, I monitored them closely, helping with synonyms and little grammar fixes here and there).

You could, if you have a nice even number, cut up the 8 words and get the students to read them and then tell the other students about them, a jigsaw reading of sorts.

Otherwise follow the questions on the worksheet.

Reflection:

Having had a chat to a friend about some of the attitudes of her students recently, I was keen to put a reflection section into this lesson, they feature in lots of our lessons, but this one is thinking more globally about language.  This could result in a big discussion or be over in 6 minutes, really depends on your students.  Go with whatever feels right.

Vocabulary:

Again, as part of training students to be more autonomous the idea here is to get them to try to work out the meaning of words using their context.  They can then check them against a-f

As always, if there are any changes you put in, let us know and tell us how it goes.

Materials:

Office Politics – Listening

So, this is a little listening lesson, pretty tricky unless it is scaffolded properly.  It also shows students some conditionals in a natural situation, which is always a plus in my book, it can conveniently fit into either a lesson on work or comedy, but for the purposes of this, it is as a bit of a break from a unit/week on work.

Do let them listen a few times, especially at the beginning, as it is pretty fast.  Your job as teacher is to stop them getting discouraged and to explain that the reason for this is to try to bridge the gap between what they do inside the classroom and what happens outside those walls.

Enjoy

Aims: expose students to real conversation, show grammar, conditionals, in a real context, focus on pronunciation, sentence stress.

Time: 1hr +

Level: High int +

Procedure:

The worksheet should be fairly easy to follow so the procedure would be to follow that, rather than me writing a lengthy one here.  But do have a look before you go into class as i’ve tried to really mix the activities, listening as the main background activity with lots of things coming off it

I would recommend putting in the time for students to reflect on what they have seen as for this I think it is important for all lessons, but especially this one.

Here are the answers to the word stress exercise at the end, feel free to disagree but this is what I hear.

T. Hey dude

G. Give it back

T. I’m just using it for a second

G. It’s got my name on it, Gareth

T. No, it says Garet, actually, but

G. Ask if you want to borrow it.

T. Yeah, you always say no mate, so what’s the point

G. Perhaps that’s why you should ask

T. Gareth it was just there ok

G. Yeah, that’s its home, leave it there.

Also, you could obviously go onto connected speech at this point or other pronunciation features, depending on how your students are feeling.

Materials

Worksheet: the-office-worksheet

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1PHpkdvNOs