Thursday, 30 April 2009

Let's have a Susan Boyle Moment

I had a Susan Boyle week. I did Susan Boyle in my Intermediate class, then I had a very similar lesson in my Pre-Intermediate class, then I used the idea as a warmer in my CPE class and I think I am going to try something similar on Tuesday in my Elementary class.

My husband said I just needed an excuse to listen to her voice. He was right.

Anyway, this is how I did it: I played the audio of Susan singing Cry Me a River (it is much less famous than Les Miserables and it is a beautiful song) and I asked the students to imagine the woman singing it. Needless to say, they concluded she was tall, slim, beautiful, in her 30s and had long hair. They couldn't agree whether she was a blonde or a brunette. Then I showed them Susan's photo and everybody recognised her. They had all seen the You Tube video or at least heard about it.

After that I did different things. In my Intermediate class I pretended I was Susan and they interviewed me. I used their questions and my answers to revise indirect speech. Then we discussed the whole Susan Boyle phenomenon and we talked about our own dreams and ambitions. Finally, I gave them the Cry Me a River lyrics. In the Pre-Intermediate class I used the lyrics to introduce a couple of phrases and idioms ("You drove me out of my head", "You said that you were through with me") and then they decided to sing along. In CPE we got more philosophical and discussed the economic chrisis and the music industry.

And I am not the only one. I know of at least two EFL teachers who came up with their own Susan Boyle lesson plans. Check out Karenne's post (the lesson plan can be downloaded) and then visit Susana's blog. Susana's students left some great comments

Why does this type of lesson plan work? 

Well, it is up to date and, as one of my students said, "She gives people hope." We can always do with a little hope in an EFL class. We can do with a little hope everywhere.

If you have your own Susan Boyle lesson plan, please share it here. Or just come and brainstorm your ideas in the comments section. If you are reading this and you are not an EFL teacher, you can still share your ideas here. Or your dreams.

Let's have a Susan Boyle moment. 

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Susana Canelo said...

Dear Natasa:
your post is just great!!! Your idea of starting with Susan Boyle's songs without images sparkled your students imagination. What a lot of reflections we can get. They call this critical thinking. And it seems this way of learning is absolutely more moving and interesting than a traditional textbook.
Thanks for leaving a comment in my class blog. My students are going to be happy with it.
A huge hug from Argentina


Evelyn Izquierdo said...

Dear Natasa,
I love your lesson plan. Congratulations! You are an inspiring teacher. Your students must be proud of you.
Greetings from Caracas, Venezuela.

Nina Lyulkun said...

Dear Natasha,

Super activity for the class. You are a very good teacher full of creativity. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with us.
I haven't run a lesson with my students yet. We are lack of audio or video equipment.
Anyway, I am planning to run it virtually, perhaps.
This is the a very good topic.

Have a nice day,

Natasa said...

Thank you, Susana, Evelyn and Nina.
Susana, I agree. There is no need to stick to the textbook with all those interesting resources the Internet provides. And, as teachers, we should always be up to date with what's going on in 'the real world.' By the way, your students are great.
Nina, I have no video equipment either. That's what gave me the idea for the 'no picture, sound only' lesson plan.
A big hug to you all.

Saša said...

Wonderful lesson plan, Nataša. Thanks for sharing. :-)
Hugs from rainy Gorica

Natasa said...

Thank you Saša.
Hope it has stopped raining. The weather is very changeable here too.

Anica Petkoska said...

I have also used the Susan Boyle YouTube Video, for my intermediate EFL K-12 students. Have you checked the latest number of viewers? It's 53,527,077 views. Isn't that incredible?

I have to admit, you have inspired me to use the same video again, probably like this:
Students watch the video at home (bandwidth problems at public school) and make a double entry journal for their reactions to it. In class they share their written reactions, continue discussions for gender stereotypes, dreams, hopes, ambitions and future careers. Homework assignment could be a personal essay "Imagine yourself being a singer. Tell about your feelings before the opening night of the performance."

Thanks for sharing your blog's RSS feed at
Perhaps, I should also add my other blogs RSS on the ning network, like you did.

Natasa said...

Welcome to my blog Anica. I love your lesson plan. There are ideas for several classes here, if you wish to exploit this topic for so long. I agree - the number of people who have seen the video is really incredible.
One of the good sides of Ning is the RSS feed widget. I am a member of several Nings and it would be really hard to start a blog in every one of them. This way, I just use this blog's feed. One blog is quite enough to keep me busy.


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