Words don’t come easy … but should we really enjoy the silence?

Written by: Desislava Zareva and Simona Bali,
New Bulgarian University, Sofia

The article is based on a workshop we delivered at the 16th BETA conference in Blagoevgrad, 2007.  It offers some practical activities based on song, film and book titles which can be used to practice English in an enjoyable and motivating way.

The major goal of this workshop has been to offer some activities based on song, film and book titles which can be used to recycle vocabulary as well as to practice sentence structure in an enjoyable and motivating way. The underlying idea of introducing such kind of activities is based on our teacher practice in which we have observed that language acquisition takes place more easily when there is no tension and when the topic and the character of the task is relevant to the interests and the expectations of the learners. Revealing the “secret life of words” can create a stimulating atmosphere in the classroom and provoke the students into using their imagination to practice the target language in a non-traditional way.

The first task “Hot Stuff” that we have suggested is based on the use of famous song titles with the aim of writing a message to the rest of the group. The learners are divided into groups of four or five and are given sets of song  titles. They have to choose as many song titles as they want and connect them so as to produce a sensible message. Any kind of transformations are allowed as long as the sentence produced is grammatically and logically correct. This task really challenges the learners’ creativity while strengthening their sense of sentence structure  and improving their ability to produce grammatically correct utterances. Example: It’s a hard life but we are sex bombs and a little bit insane in the brain, so we will survive. For further details, instructions and examples of song titles see the Appendix.

The second task “Just The Way You Are” can be used as a warming up activity to introduce the students to a certain topic. It develops the skills of describing objects, settings, people, emotions, situations in a metaphorical way by means of song or film titles. The learners are asked to think up of three to five song or film titles to describe whatever the topic of the lesson presupposes. This may be their personality, state of mind, favourite place, favourite people, their attitude to a certain issue etc. The songs  or films the learners choose may be ones that they do not like in particular but whose titles reflect the ideas they want to express. They may also be in a different language, which will require from the students to translate them into the target language. The process of choosing a title, referring it to the specific topic and sometimes translating it, leads to a personalization of the topic and greater involvement into the ensuing lesson activities. For further details and instructions see the Appendix.

The next task A: “Guess who’s coming to dinner? B: “E.T.” is a communicative matching activity which involves a lot of creativity good humour and originality. The class is divided into two teams each of which is given a set of film titles to choose from. In a more advanced group the learners may be given the chance to produce their own list of film titles. One of the teams challenges the other team by saying one of their titles and the other team should  find the most suitable ending to the line they hear so that they come up with a witty exchange. The students are allowed to use additional words to the titles they have if they want their reply to make sense. Any logic is welcome as long as the exchanges are grammatically accurate and funny enough. Example: A: “Guess who’s coming to dinner? B: “E.T.” For further details, instructions and examples of song titles see the Appendix.

The last task we offer is an associative chain activity based on the use of titles of any kind – song, book, film, computer game etc. The learners are supposed to listen to their partners carefully and continue the chain with a title which has at least ONE of the words from the previous title. Example:Dances with Wolves è Dirty Dancing è Dirty Harry èWhen Harry Met Sally…If guided by the teacher this activity may be used to practice some topical vocabulary or recycle new words.  For further instructions see the Appendix.

In the course of years our experience as teachers of English has proved that motivation is one of the basic prerequisites for the successful acquisition of a foreign language. As Krashen claims in his theory of second language acquisition, learners with high motivation, self-confidence, a good self-image, and a low level of anxiety are better equipped for success in second language acquisition. Creating strong motivation and a relaxed atmosphere, however, is often time-consuming and requires great efforts on the part of the instructor. Introducing some more creative and stimulating activities like the ones described above may not only serve some language learning purposes but can also increase the learners’ interest into exploring the infinite resources of the target language. We should keep in mind that having fun releases the tension and opens the affective filter wider, which increases the chances of students to acquire the language more easily and enjoyably.

Bibliography:

Krashen, Stephen D. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning.  Prentice-Hall International, 1988.


Appendix

“Hot Stuff”
Task: Group Work/ pair work activity

Materials needed: For this task you need several sets of song titles, printed on coloured paper and then cut out, so that it is easy to combine them into sentences.  In addition you will need A-3 sheets of paper, glue or blue tack and pens for each group/pair.

Instructions to the teacher: Divide your class into groups of 3-4 students (or pairs).  Each group should receive the instructions and  a set of the materials listed above.  The activity should take about 10-15 minutes.

Instructions for students: Using the materials you find on your table write your message to the rest of the people/groups in the room. Each group is allowed to add up to 5 titles of their own, as well as linking words. Read out/ stick your message to the poster”

Song titles set:

Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman – Time To Say Goodbye
Berlin – Take My Breath Away
Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You
No Doubt – Don’t Speak
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing compares to you
Toni Braxton – Un-break My Heart
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Baha Men – Who Let The Dogs Out
Britney Spears – You drive me crazy
Aerosmith – I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing
Madonna – The power of goodbye
Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Paul Anka – You Are My Destiny
Britney Spears-Oops I Did It Again
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Supermax – It Ain’t Easy
Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Baha Men – Who Let The Dogs Out
Styx – Boat On The River
Baha Men – Who Let The Dogs Out
Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever
Guns ‘n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle
Sam Brown – You’d better stop
Bob Marley – The Sun Is Shining
Bil Haley & The Commets – See You Later Alligator
Troggs – I can’t control myself
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Abba – Knowing Me Knowing You
Judas Priest – Before The Dawn

NB You can choose your own titles.

“Just The Way You Are”
Task:
Individual work activity

Materials needed: For this task you do not need special preparation – just a few song/film/book titles to describe your own state of mind, mood, etc.

Instructions to the teacher: Point out that this is an individual task and encourage students’ creativity. Set a time limit of 10-15 minutes. Be ready to help with translation.

Instructions for students: Free your imagination and answer the following questions: Which 3 songs best describe your personality in general? Your mood at the moment? Your state of mind? These DO NOT have to be your favourite songs. If you choose songs which are not in English please translate the titles. Justify your choice.

A: “Guess who’s coming to dinner? B: “E.T.”
Task:
Group Work activity

Materials needed: For this task you need two sets of film titles, printed on coloured paper and then cut out, so that they are easy to grab and match.  It is up to you whether you give similar or different lists to both groups.

Instructions to the teacher: Divide your class into two smaller groups .  Each group should receive the instructions and a set of the materials listed above.  The activity should take about 10-15 minutes.  Encourage and praise originality throughout the activity.

Instructions for students: Look at the list of film titles your group has received and listen carefully to the lines you hear from the other group. From your set find the most suitable ending to the line you hear. You are allowed to use additional words to the titles you have if you want your reply to make sense. Any logic is welcome J. When it is your turn, pick out a line from your list and wait for the other group’s response.  Creativity, good humour and originality are encouraged!

Film titles set:

Apocalypse Now
Around the World in 80 Days
The Big Sleep
Blade Runner
Braveheart
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Crying Game
Dangerous Liaisons
Driving Miss Daisy
Face Off
Basic Instinct
Gone in 60 seconds
The Godfather
Good Fellas
Modern Times
My Life as a Dog
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Heat
When A Man Loves a Woman
Raging Bull
Secrets & Lies
The Silence of the Lambs
Singin’ In the Rain
Some Like It Hot
Star Wars
Taxi Driver
Women on the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown
As Good As It Gets
The Usual Suspects
American Beauty
Sin City
The Fast And The Furious
Independence day
The English Patient
Scent of a Woman
Out of Africa

Dances with Wolves → Dirty Dancing → Dirty Harry → When Harry Met Sally…

Task: Group or a whole class activity.

Instructions for students: This is a chain activity. Listen to your partner carefully . You should continue the chain with a title (song, book, film, computer game, etc) which has at least ONE of the words from the title you hear.

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.