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
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Do feedback and find out which team won. Write any song lines or song titles on the board that contain useful language.
- 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 (Sting)
* 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 (Foreigner)
* I can’t help falling in love with you (Elvis)
* 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 +)
- Write the following two questions on the board and ask students to discuss them in small groups. * 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Show the video to strengthen students’ comprehension of the text and the ideas in it.
- 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.
* Can you explain the difference between love and romance?
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 …?)