Posts Tagged ‘Vocabulary’

Happy 2013, everyone! lazy tiger

I thought I’d start the year with an activity which combines listening, pronunciation and vocabulary. This activity can be used with any level but works better with  higher level learners.

It uses ‘The Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars, a song which talks about taking time out from the busy pace of life and spending the day doing nothing.


Start the activity by getting learners to talk about a day in their lives when they didn’t feel like doing anything. Get them to brainstorm what happened on that particular day by completing the following sentence with their own ideas:

I didn’t feel like doing anything so I….

 Write the learners ideas on the board e.g.

…stayed in bed the whole day

…ordered take-away food

…turned off my mobile phone

It is likely that the learners will suggest some everyday words such as bed, food, phone etc.  Circle these words and get the learners to suggest as many collocations as possible for these words e.g.


Deal with the meaning and grammar of these collocations. For example, in the language above, you may notice the different uses of the definite article ‘the’. Also, words like ‘scoff one’s food down’ are very idiomatic and should be used with caution.

After that, do some work on pronunciation with the learners. To do this, I have borrowed an idea from Reis and Hazan (2012) and their notation system called Speechant, in which vowel sounds are organised on a scale from high to lower timber sounds (p. 158).

Unlike, Reis and Hazan’s system, however, I suggest that you focus the learners on the direction of the voice from low to high sounds and vice-versa.  To demonstrate to the learners how this works, introduce them to the following  code:

͟   low sounds       ͞    high sounds

Then, write a couple of lexical chunks on the board such as ‘to get out of bed’ and ‘to order take-away food’. Tell the learners that grammar words should be said in a lower voice and content words in a high voice. For example, the lexical chunks above would be pronounced like this:

͟ to͞ get͞ out͟ of͞ bed         ͟  to͞ order͞ take-͞͞  away͞ food

Get the learners to use this system to pronounce the lexical chunks written on the board previously. Supervise this and assist where necessary.

It is now time to move on the listening part of the activity. Use the music video below for this.

Start with a listening for gist task. On the board, write these questions:

a)    What is the song about?

b)    Who do you think is telling the story behind the song?

c)    How does the person singing the song feel?

Some possible answers:

a)    The song is about taking time out from the hectic life.

b)    A young man, possibly a collage student.

c)    The person feels tired of their busy life and is happy to simply laze around.

Play the video once for the learners to complete the task. Get them to check their answers in pairs and then feedback on the answers with the class.

Now, tell the learners that they are going to listen to the song again. This time they are going to complete a listening for specific information.

Give the learners the worksheet below and tell them that their task is to listen and select the appropriate word.

Play the video as many times as possible for the learners to complete the task. Follow this with peer-checking and feedback.

Then, focus the learners on the lines of the song by getting them to annotate them using the system described above e.g.

͞   Today ͟  I ͟  don’t ͞  feel ͟ like ͞   doing ͞  anything etc.

Get the learners to read the lyrics aloud, focusing on the pronunciation of the phrases.

Once that is finished, and if you have technology available, direct the learners to Urban Dictionary online.

Get the learners to look up the following slang words: chilling, lounging, snuggie, dougie, P90X, hang loose and birthday suit.

Make sure the learners are clear about the pronunciation, meaning and register of these words.

Finally, get the learners to sing along to the song.

If you have time left, get the learners to mingle and talk about what they might do or not next time they don’t feel like doing anything.

I hope you enjoy this posting. Watch this space for more classroom ideas.


dos Reis, J., & Hazan, V. (2012). Speechant: a vowel notation system to teach English pronunciation. ELT journal, 66(2), 156-165.