Posted 12/2/11
Are you a romantic at heart? Or do you feel that we are all victims of a love myth in which outlooks have been influenced by Hollywood films, pop songs and art throughout the ages? In this clip, actor Meg Ryan and chat show host Michael Parkinson clash on this issue.
  • Language level: All levels
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Activity: Speaking
  • Topic: Love & romance
  • Language: The language of love
  • Materials: Video and/or materials light
What is pdf [downloaded 4309 times]

Lesson plan outline

Note that the three parts to this lesson plan can actually be regarded as three separate activities. For higher-level groups, teachers might want to follow them in sequential order. For lower level groups, it will be necessary to omit part 2.

Part 1: Love songs (All levels)

  1. If you are using this activity on Valentine’s Day, find out what your students know about this celebration and whether or not they get involved. Find out who are the romantics in the class and who are not.
  2. Put students into teams. Tell them that they are going to play a musical love game. Give them a time limit (5 minutes for example) to work together and make a list of as many song titles or song lines as possible that contain the word love. As students do this, you can circulate and clarify any misheard or misunderstood lyrics that may arise.
  3. Do feedback and find out which team won. Write any song lines or song titles on the board that contain useful language.
  4. Dictate any additional song lines/titles to your students that you feel may contain useful language or notions about love. Students now have two tasks: to write the lines down correctly and decide whether or not they can identify the artist. Some examples:
* All you need is love (The Beatles)
* I’ve never been in love before
(Chet Baker)
* If you love somebody set them free
* Love will tear us apart
(Joy Division)
* What’s love got to do with it?
(Tina Turner)
* It’s a thin line between love and hate
(The Pretenders)
* When a man loves a woman
(Percy Sledge)
* There’s more to love than boy meets girl
(The Communards)
* I used to love her but it’s all over now
(The Rolling Stones)
* I want to know what love is
* I can’t help falling in love with you
* Everybody needs somebody to love
(Solomon Burke)

Follow up: Bring a glove into class. Think of a song title or song line that contains the word love as a noun. Say it but replace the word love with glove (All you need is glove, Glove will tear us apart, Can’t help falling in glove, etc). Throw the glove to a student who then has to think of another song and make the same love to glove substitution. Continue in this way. Thanks go to a group of drunk Chelsea fans in Barcelona that I learned this game from.

Part 2: Love or romance (Intermediate +)

  1. Write the following two questions on the board and ask students to discuss them in small groups.
  2. * As a result of all the love songs that have ever been written, and all the romantic films that have ever been made, is it possible that we have a distorted view of what love actually is? If so, how does this affect us?
    * Can you explain the difference between love and romance?
  3. Use Wikipedia or an image search site to show your students a picture of the poster for the 2003 film In the Cut. Find out if anyone in the class has seen it.
  4. Tell students that in 2003, one of the actors from the film called Meg Ryan appeared on a famous UK chat show to promote the film. Tell students that during the interview, the actor and chat show host conflicted on their views about love and romance.
  5. Give out copies of the interview transcript (included in the PDF download). Ask students to read through and decide whether they agree with Meg Ryan or with Michael Parkinson on their view of love in this case. You may want to pre-teach any potentially problematic words or cultural ideas before giving out the text (a glossary is included in the PDF download).
  6. Show the video to strengthen students’ comprehension of the text and the ideas in it.
  7. Put students into pairs and ask them to discuss why they believe in love over romance or vice versa with their partners. Whenever a pair has exhausted their ideas, try to unite them with another pair in a similar situation so that they can share and compare their thoughts. You can circulate and contribute ideas where appropriate and also help with language when necessary. Write any praiseworthy, suggested or corrected language on the board.

Comment 1: The interview transcription has been tidied up so that it doesn’t contain the untidiness of spoken language (false starts, self interruptions, etc). You can point this out to students and ask them to compare the transcription with the actual language in the video.

Comment 2: Michael Parkinson is reputed to have said that the Meg Ryan interview was the worst in his TV career. The whole interview, which lasts approximately 15 minutes and is quite tense at times, can be see online and provides an interesting subject for the study in the language classroom. Click here for more on the story.

Part 3: Valentine’s day dilemma (All levels)

This is the title of a poem which you should write on the board and invite students to read complete in any way they like before reading out their versions to the rest of the class.

Do I love you?
(I think I do)
I think I love you more than ……….
But do I love you as much as ……….?

Note that this poem can also be written in the past tense (Did I love you? I think I did. I think I loved you more than … But did I ever love you as much as …?) or with a conditional flavour (Could I love you? I think I could. I think I could love you more than … But could I ever love you as much as …?)

Posted 12/2/11

16 Responses to What is love?

  1. karen McDonald says:

    Thanks, “Love the glove” activity might well try to throw a “punch” to my adult students on Tuesday am

  2. Liz says:

    Fantastic, Jamie! Looking foreward to trying this out.


  3. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Karen and thank you Liz
    Come back and let me know how you get on with the activities
    Jamie :-)

  4. Aimee says:

    Thanks for another great lesson plan, Jamie. With my b1+ group (20-year-olds), we did parts 1 and 2, and they really got into it! I wasn’t sure how open they would be about sharing like this, particularly as it’s only week 3 of the semester, but they were great. I had planned to have extra time for a debate over which is more accurate, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “Out of sight, out of mind”, but we didn’t have time. I think we spent about 1 hour and 15 minutes just on parts 1 and 2.

  5. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Aimee
    It’s great to get your feedback. Love the idea for the follow up idea. I was planning to use the activity myself with a couple of classes today but it didn’t happen in the end. I’ll just have to wait until next year. Or perhaps Sant Jordi (Saint George’s day) which is the traditional day of romance here in Catalonia.
    Thanks again

  6. Adam Beale says:

    Had the opportunity of actually doing this lesson on Valentines day, with a group of adult FCE students. Everyone enjoyed it and analysing the turn taking or lack of it in this case was helpful for the students. Trying out the Procrastination lesson tomorrow morning. Will let you know how it goes.

  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks for the feedback Adam
    Yeah – the lack of turn taking made it hard to transcribe. Simultaneous speech is a part of everyday life. It is especially common on Spanish celebrity chat shows which I highly don’t recommend! You don’t get it so much in the audio recordings of course books strangely :)

  8. Joanna says:

    Looking forward to using this activity butI can´t find the transcript!

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Joanna
    Thank you for your comment. I made a couple of changes to the lesson plan a few days ago. I uploaded the new PDF file bur forgot to include the transcript! Oops.
    It will be there in the PDF in 5 minutes.
    Thanks again

  10. Ana says:

    The video is not longer available in youtube, do you know another link from where I can download it?

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Ana – it’s back :)

  12. Callie Wilkinson says:

    Hello Jamie :)

    Can’t seem to get the video or download the lesson plan…

    Hope all’s good with you,
    Callie xxx

  13. Callie Wilkinson says:

    Oh, that’s strange. I tried to download another lesson plan and it wouldn’t work either. I was using ‘Safari’, but now, with ‘Firefox’, I can download both the lesson plans.

    Still can’t get the video for this one, though.

    Sorry for confusion!


  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Oh dear – the video seems to have been removed.
    Try this:
    Jamie :)

  15. Lizzie says:

    This looks like a great lesson, but unfortunately the Parkinson clip has been removed from YouTube :(

    In general though: Thanks for creating and sharing such brilliant lessons, you’re a saviour! :)

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Lizzie
    Did you try the link above? It is a bit naughty of me but I put the video into a public Dropbox folder. You should be able to get it there.
    Thank you for your nice comment
    Jamie :)