Tag Archives: reading

Gotye: Somebody I used to know


Play the song and have students listen to it carefully so as to understand as much as possible at first hearing.


Ask what the song is about and then ask students if they know what homophones are. (It helps my students to mention synonyms here and explain if needed.)

Tell the students they will get a worksheet with lyrics to the song, but almost every line has a mistake, ,where a homonym is used instead of the right word.

Play the song again twice and have them correct as many mistakes as they can.


Go through the lyrics helping them if/when necessary.

Video by India Arie

This song is perfect for teenagers with low self-esteem. It practically says everything, so you go into the lyrics as much as appropriate according to your students’ level. This is how I would do it:


Have students listen to the song, supported by lyrics:


Check understanding. My students usually do not know the following:

unconditionally, freckle, pantyhose, conclusion, confusion, misconception, mass-deception, mink,

You might want to point out the use of ain’t and other features of spoken language she uses and discuss their use with your students.


Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to discuss how they understand the following verses:

Get in where you fit in

Clear your mind

Put your salt on the shelf

Invite them to share their ideas and tell share yours.

Ask them how this song can be related to them, Depending on the group and its size, either all together or in groups first.

This part could also be done in writing, either in class or as homework. When you have their thoughts in writing, you can display them around the classroom and ask them to play “Find somebody who”, asking them to find 2 people who thought something similar to them and 2 who thought something different.

Englishman in NY by Sting


Write the following words on the board

Manners maketh man

and ask your students what they think they mean and let the discussion go in the direction of what manners are important, which they have and how they got them (or not).


Play the extract from this film and ask students what the character meant when he said, “manners maketh man”.

I usually stop the video at the beginning at the scene with the outside of a pub and ask students what they think it is. When they figure out it is a pub, we discuss the difference between beer, ale and stout and the pint as the unit of measure. I point out typical names of pubs and assign it as homework to find funny or curious pub names until the next lesson.

After 1 minute, the clip gets a bit violent so if you do not think it is appropriate, stop the clip at this point. The truth is, most of my teenage boys have recognized the film because they have already seen it and some of the rest wrote down the title to watch it at home later.

It should be clear after the clip that the gentleman is teaching the youngsters a lesson by behaving like a man with manners.


Play this song and check understanding by dealing with unknown words after each part. Point out the typical British and typical American habits.

Depending on how much time you have, you can explore the concept of tea, toast and English accents after the first part.

When you get to the part with the walking cane, you can refer back to the film, where the gentleman is using his umbrella in a similar way.

Let the part with the chorus play uninterrupted, this will be dealt with at the end.

In the third part, the song mentions the phrase “manners maketh man” again. Elicit the meaning of “it takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile” and show the first part of the film extract again, pointing out that the gentleman knew beforehand he is cleverer, faster, stronger and better equipped than the youngsters, but he did not brag about it or use it in an improper way.

Explain the words in the next part or have students find them in dictionaries. In one lesson, we had to stop here, so I asked them to think about the possible meanings of : “A candle is brighter than the sun” part for homework.

When you get to the part “a gentleman will walk but never run”, refer back to the video. By this time it is obvious how very British the gentleman in the Kingsman video is, so it is a good idea to explore what he says and what your students would say instead of using the British wording. Also point out how the youngsters speak and the contrast between the two. Ask your students which is preferable to them and in what situations.


Go back to the chorus of Englishman in New York.

Either for homework or at class, ask students to come up with occasions when they feel like Englishman in New York or a candle at night, out of place, different. Have them share their stories.