September, the month in my life when I face a bunch of disillusioned teenagers who haven’t met me yet but they already don’t feel like learning English (or they already did meet me and decided to suffer yet another year with yours truly) – rings a bell? Do you remember being a student and doing one of the most terrifying things in the classroom: sharing stuff about oneself? And the feeling of panic? What am I going to say? Will other students laugh? Should I mention I want to be an Evil Empress? Red light, red light, panic – and all that jazz.
No wonder teenagers don’t want to talk about themselves… So I usually make them work in groups, and then share information about one another, which seems easier for my students.
With teenagers, one thing is usually universal: they like music. Even if it’s Justin Bieber. Or 1Direction. Or Avicii. Or Imagine Dragons (THAT’S what they’re calling rock nowadays, seriously?). What I do, I use their interest and make them bring their favourite English songs to share with the whole class.
To jazz things up a bit, though, I ask my students to prepare their own listening exercises – teenagers love gap filling in songs, and those pieces of music we find in our coursebooks, well… are just a wee bit outdated 😉
Naturally, I also bring something nice, last time it was Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden – and believe me, I was so proud when one of my students put his pencil aside and smiled calmly, saying he knew the song by heart (indeed he did).
From my experience, this activity makes students more comfortable in the classroom, it checks their listening proficiency, and – which is also quite important – allows me to introduce some cultural aspects. It also helps me to find what my students actually like and get to know them better.
Naturally, you’re bound to listen to some songs that will make you cringe – last season I had a group of teenage girls. Only girls. Slow romantic songs galore… and I wish you all the best when it comes to the lyrics. It takes some kind of super-willpower to stop oneself from commenting and I’m just an Evil Empress in the making, you know.
Besides, my sweet teenage girls find stuff like this romantic, only it makes me feel like high-fiving the author (in the face. with a chair). I wanna take you somewhere so you know I care but it’s so cold and I don’t know where, really? Do you really wish you had a boyfriend like that? Seriously, girls these days 😉
Well, so after a nice idea and a small example of what you may encounter (gods be with you, fellow teachers! you can do it!) let me share one of my favourite romantic songs. Enjoy 🙂