Friday, March 06, 2009

The Elephant Song

The trip to Kuala Gandah has actually evoked my memory on 'The Elephant Song', or rather, the lesson that I had with my English teacher, Mdm. Rumini, when I was in Astopunk back in 1986 or '87. As we walked on the land of the elephants in Kuala Gandah, this song had been playing in my mind over and over.

It was a moving lesson, singing and comprehending the song, with the discussion on the cruelty of poachers and the elephants' conservation. I was deeply affected by the song and the discussion that I had felt like crying... couldn't tell if I had actually cried indeed.

Years later as a teacher in Kuala Rompin, Pahang, a student had offered me some meat of a mouse deer which he claimed to have hunted it himself. Well, it was tempting... but as I was teaching the topic "Conservation of the wild animals", it just didn't feel right for me to accept it. I had recalled this song then, and had searched high and low for it so that I could teach it to my students - hoping that I could somehow contribute to their awareness to stop the killing of these precious animals. I couldn't lay my hand on this song then, though... That was the year 1993 and I wasn't exposed to the Internet yet.

Luckily the technology is here today for a teacher like me to find almost any songs she needs for her classroom. Today, I've found this song that had touched and still touches my heart and my conscience. I'm thankful for the technology and thank you to everyone who has made it possible.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Teaching the days of the week

Despite turning to be almost 50 years old, the song "Never on Sunday" by Connie Francis still proves to be very cheeky and enjoyable for my new millennium students. Besides making them practise their listening skills, I've also used this song to check on my beginner / lower elementary students' spelling of the days and capitalization for the proper nouns, as well as to drill the order of the days in their minds.

Use the following worksheet for the listening activity:

Listen to the song and fill in the blanks.

Never on Sunday
Connie Francis

Oh, you can kiss me on a _______day, a _______day, a ______day

is very very good

Or you can kiss me on a _______day, a _______day, a _______day,

in fact I wish you would

Or you can kiss me on a ________day, a _______day, a _______day,

and _______day is best

But never ever on a _______day a _______day a _______day

cause that's my day of rest.

Come _______ day and you'll be my guest

_______ day you say but _______ day of rest

Just name _______ day that you like the best

Only stay away on _______ day of rest.

Note: Do remind the students to ignore the Greek/Italian lyrics as they listen or sing the song.

An activity for teaching the present simple questions.

For those who love to teach English through songs, here's an activity that you may use to drill the wh-question structure for the present simple at the end of your lesson.

This activity is based on the song titled "The End of The World" by Skeeter Davis. For this activity, I would begin with the following worksheet:

Order the words to make questions.

1. on / does / why / sun / the/ shining / go ? _________________________________________________________

2. the / shore / why / sea / to / does / rush ? _________________________________________________________

3. they / it's / the / don’t / end / of / world / know / the ?

4. birds / go / do / the / singing / on / why ? _________________________________________________________

5. do / why / glow / stars / above / the?

6. why / beating / my / does / heart / go / on ? _________________________________________________________

7. of / why / these / do / eyes / cry / mine ? _________________________________________________________

Let the students work on it individually or in pairs for about 10-15 minutes. Then let them listen to the song to check on their arrangement of the words, whether they've got it correct or not. You may want to discover what they still don't understand from their mistakes. After that, let them have the full lyrics - and enjoy singing the song together with them!

End Of The World
Skeeter Davis

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
'cause you don't love me any more?

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
why everything's the same as it was.
I can't understand! No, I can't understand
how life goes on the way it does!

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye.

For an extended activity to practise the ending punctuation, you may replace all the three punctuation marks in the lyric (full stops, question marks and exclamation points) with a box, and let the students work on it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The song 'HERO' for the present simple

A motivational tool beneficial for the students, this song can also be manipulated to practise the English grammar - the present simple tense in particular.

I've used this worksheet that I've prepared in two ways. I've used it as either a pre-grammar analysis activity or a post-grammar lesson's activity.

To use it to begin your class, you can ask the students to try selecting an option, and then listen to the song to check their answers. Then ask about their scores upon 15 (there are fifteen sets of options here). Check what are the items that they've answered wrongly or correctly, and then ask them to tell you what are the grammar rules that's being applied here. Encourage them to attempt a grammar-discovery experience before you go on explaining it.

You may also use this worksheet to end your grammar lesson as a method to test your students' understanding of the present simple. Let them pick the options individually or in pairs, before listening to check on their answers.

Either way, my students have always enjoyed singing this meaningful song at least once to end the class. So here goes the worksheet:

HERO – Mariah Carey

First, choose the correct option. Then, listen and check your answers.

There (’s / ’re) a hero
If you look inside your heart
You (doesn’t / don’t) have to be afraid
Of what you (is / are)
There (’s / ’re) an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you (know / knows)
Will melt away

And then a hero (come/ comes) along
With the strength to carry on
And you (cast / casts) your fears aside
And you (know / knows) you can survive
So when you (feel / feels) like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero (lie / lies) in you

It (’s / ’re) a long road
When you (face / faces) your world alone
No one (reach / reaches) out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear


Lord (know / knows)
Dreams (is / are) hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way


Good luck and send me a feedback!