Posted in ESL

Teaching English – a lesson on Beyoncé

My friends Helen (aka half-running-training-partner) and Julia (aka fellow CELTA survivor graduate) run a free English class once a week for the Harvard Students’ Spouses and Partners Association (HSSPA).

For last week’s HSSPA Upper-intermediate+ café we decided to do a lesson using the Beyoncé song Single Ladies (put a ring on it). As one of the group commented “this sounds like my daughter’s music”.  We based our lesson on what we found at Multimedia – English.

Stock photo - a ring is on it.
Stock photo – a ring is on it.

We started the lesson by briefly telling our partners how long it had taken from first date to proposal.  Answers ranged from an amazing 7 days to a long 7 years.

We then looked at some vocabulary in preparation for listening to the song – we tried to elicit the words using these clues:

(a) broke up – if a boyfriend and girlfriend stop seeing each other we say they…?
(b) three good years – what’s another word we could use instead of ‘long’ in this expression “three long years”?  (this lead to a discussion of whether “good” here really means “bad” – we decided it didn’t and that “good” here means that we did the full amount of time and felt every minute of it).
(c) should have – e.g. It was raining when I left – I needed an umbrella but I didn’t bring one.  Can you change the sentence to tell me what to do? (i.e. what advice would you give me?)
(d) tighter – if you try to wear clothes that are too small for you, how does it feel?
(d) had your turn – what do we say if we are playing a game, and someone tries to go twice? (this elicited – ‘you’re cheating!’)

Then I described the story of the song to help set the context.  We listened to the song and did a gap-fill exercise.  Everyone checked their answers with their partner to see if they agreed, then changed partners to see if we could fill in any last gaps.  Then we listened again.  Most of the group had all the answers by this stage – just a few words were difficult to hear –  in particular gloss and things (of the world).

Julia was on hand to help clarify some of the slang in the song including “to dip” (to leave abruptly) and “to trip” (to get angry).

We finished the lesson with a discussion of how everyone either was proposed to by their partners or proposed to their partners (careful distinction!).  We heard a lot of great stories including one from where the couple have already got married but the proposal (and ring) has yet to happen!

Looking forward to the next Café tomorrow afternoon!


Travel, photography, blogging, being an expat. And that's just in my spare time.

Thoughts? Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.