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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

ESL Teacher Blog: Thanksgiving Songs for ESL Classes

Having been through so much in their lives, our ESL students are truly unique. Trudging through the many difficulties, they managed to retain their smiles, enthusiasm and good-naturedness. What made them survive and thrive? Who are the people who have helped them along the way? Who are they thankful to? What for?

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, not turkey or pumpkin pie (as many of them would re-assure). It’s about thanking for things that matter in life. Things they wouldn’t have any other way. It’s about counting the blessings and seeing the glass half full, not half empty.

I’m not sure there are traditional Thanksgiving songs (excluding religious hymns). But there’re plenty of songs that talk about universal values of peace, freedom, equal rights, love and hard work shared by most cultures throughout the world. With these themes in mind, a cornucopia of songs can fit the list.

Not technically Thanksgiving songs per se, the ones below can help put students in the mood of giving thanks. All are quite simple lyrically and melodically:

1. Thank You for the Music (by ABBA) - because “...without a song or a dance, what are we?”

language points: questions (past simple/modals), pronunciation (linking ‘r’ to the following vowel, e.g.: for all..., capture a...), wanna

2. American Land (by Bruce Springsteen) - a thank-you to all the immigrants who “worked to bone and skin” to build their new country. The song talks about American immigrants, but can be equally applied to any immigrant-receiving country.

language point: idioms

3. Count Your Blessings (by Bill Crosby) - truly captures the essence of the holiday.

language points: zero conditional, idiom ‘count your blessings’

4. Autumn Leaves - is about grieving the love one no longer has, but also about the beauty of nature; the tune fits the Canadian Thanksgiving that takes place in October.

language points: used to, adjectives, noun+noun phrases

5. If I had a hammer (by Peter, Paul and Mary) - a timeless folk song about trying to hammer out injustice and ring out freedom all over the world; the lyrics might resonate with many students

language points: 2d conditional, phrasal verbs, I’ve got, metaphor

6. Singing in the Rain (by Gene Kelly) - because even the stormy clouds can’t dampen the spirits of someone in love

language points: present progressive, stative verbs

7. That’s What Friends Are For (by Stevie Wonder and others) - a tribute to the friends who are always there for us “in good times and bad times”

language points: verbs followed by gerunds (keep smiling/shining); fixed phrases (as far as I’m concerned, by the way)

8. What a Wonderful World (by Louis Armstrong) - thanks for the world around us

language point: adjectives

9. I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For (by Bing Crosby) - no material goods can make us truly happy; when we’re happy and healthy “How could anybody ask for more?”
language points: I’ve got, I haven’t got

10. Blowing in the Wind (by Bob Dylan) - we may long speculate on what “the answer... is blowing in the wind” means (is it too obvious or hard to grasp like the wind?), but the song helps appreciate peace and freedom

language points: how many (for count nouns), modals: must, can, be allowed to
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:13 AM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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