Wednesday, 15 April 2009


My Wednesday boys can be a bit of a handful sometimes, but today we were all literally singing off the same hymn sheet; the Black Cat song from Let's Go 1.

Like most kids, they 'know' colours already; today we were making sure we could read and follow directions to colour objects. That was 'easy', as expected, so the challenge was to listen to a song and pick out the various bits and pieces,then draw/colour what they heard. Lots of shouting and speculation as they demanded to listen again and again, until they 'got it', bit by bit.

This will only work with a strong class that has already been exposed to the language you are trying to pick out; the beauty of a song like this is the relative speed, rhythm & ellision; single words no longer carry equal stress but get joined up. "Black" and "cat" are both familiar words; stick them together naturally and you get 'blackat'; similarly "yellow" and "eyes" gives you 'yelloweyes'. Picking words out from a real context like this really helps students 'want' to reproduce the same sound themselves - and not just singing along. So a drawing/colouring task becomes a challenging listening job, which in turn works on pronunciation and thus speaking.

Another bonus for them with this kind of exercise is that it replicates the part four task in the Cambridge YLE Starters listening test. Now, isn't that nice!?