“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder – Lesson Plan

Levels: pre-intermediate to upper intermediate.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: conversation; song gapfill; first conditional practice/review.
Skills: listening; speaking; writing.
Language focus: vocab re superstitions and luck; first conditional practice.

Materials:
a recording of the song “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder (a great version on YouTube is here).
one copy of the song lyrics (for you), a gapfill sheet and “Call My Bluff” cards, ALL of which is here

Time needed: 50 minutes.

Procedure:

  1. Print some pictures or draw on the board: a black cat, a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe, etc. Elicit “superstition” and “superstitious”, “lucky/unlucky”, “good luck/bad luck”.
  2. Allow 5 minutes or so for students to think of as many superstitions as they know. This is always quite interesting, as each country will have their own superstitions that will not be known to the whole group. Some useful vocabulary will probably arise.
  3. Board their ideas. Make sure you have 13, ladders and broken mirrors on the board. Teach or elicit that an old fashioned word for mirror is looking glass.
  4. Play verse 1 and chorus of the song. Which does he mention? (ladder, looking glass and 13).
    You can listen to the song here:
  5. Play the whole song (twice if necessary) and students complete the gapfill.
  6. Ask the students what Stevie thinks about superstition. Does he think it is a good or a bad thing, and why? What do they think? Do they believe in any superstitions? Why do people believe in them? What could be the drawbacks in believing in superstitions? Students discuss in groups of three. This normally stimulates a good discussion or debate among students, and some good vocabulary (you may want to pre-teach phrases like “just in case”, “to be on the safe side”, “paranoid”, “all in the mind”).
  7. Board: If you break a mirror, you will have 7 years of bad luck.Elicit that this is a sentence in the first conditional, and that it is a real and not a hypothetical situation. Elicit form (If + infinitive, will/imperative).
  8. Tell students that they are going to invent some superstitions and see if their classmates can guess an invented superstition from a real one. Give each student a card with a real superstition on it, and tell them to create two new ones, using the first conditional. Monitor carefully at this stage.
  9. Students work in groups of three and take it in turns to read out their three superstitions. The others in their group must guess which is the real one.
  10. Feedback and error correct. Do they have any favourite ones?

Extension activity: writing (set this for homework). Do you believe in any superstitions? Do you think superstition is good or bad? Why?

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