Levels: intermediate to upper-intermediate.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: song gapfill; letter writing based on responses to the song.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing; pronunciation (rhymes).
Language focus: vocab as arises from the song and subsequent writing activity.
You will need a recording of “She’s Leaving Home” by the Beatles (a YouTube version is here),
a copy of the lyrics,
several copies of the first verse printed out (widely spaced) for the running dictation, copies of the gapfill exercise and copies of the discussion questions (all here).
You will also need a large space for the running dictation – either a large classroom or the use of a corridor.
Time needed: 50 minutes.
- Set up a running dictation of the first verse of the song (page 2 of the attachment). Don’t say anything about it at this stage.
- When over half of the pairs have finished, sit students down in their pairs and get them to compare their writing with each other. Ask them what kind of text they think it is (a letter, an article, a poem?). They will probably guess it is a song.
- Give them the original text and play verse 1 at the same time, so they can check their running dictation against the real text while listening.
You can listen to the song here:
- Vocab input: handkerchief (demonstrate with realia or use a tissue but make sure they know a handkerchief is made of fabric. Concept check: Is a handkerchief made of paper? Is it modern or old fashioned to have a handkerchief? Elicit part of speech, syllables, stress etc)clutching (demonstrate with a board pen, first holding, then clutching. Concept check: Do I feel relaxed when I clutch the pen?)
- Brief discussion in pairs or groups of three: Who is this person? Where is she going?
- Board guesses (real answer: a young girl, probably a teenager, is running away from her parents’ house. Don’t tell them yet!).
Play the chorus. Were their guesses correct?
- Vocab input: pre-teach or elicit snores, dressing gown, denied, sacrificed
- Play song all the way through (twice if necessary). Students complete gapfill (page 1 of attachment). Double gaps are phrasal verbs.
- Ask students if it is a sad or a happy song. This may get them in the mood for speaking. Give them the discussion questions (page 3 of the attachment) and go through them in pairs or groups of three. Go through the answers as a class.
You could set this up in class and set as homework, or do in pairs in class. Tell the students to imagine they are this girl, and that they are leaving home. They are going to write the note to their parents. Start the letter like this and make sure all the questions are covered:
Dear Mum and Dad,
- Why am I leaving?
- Where am I going?
- How do I feel? (am I sorry?)
- Do I plan to ever come back?