Posted 10/6/11
28 New Yorkers. One question: Hey you! What song are you listening to? This clip was made by film maker Ty Cullen.
  • Language level: Beginner – Pre-intermediate (A1; A2)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Activity: Listening for detail
  • Topic: Music
  • Language: Present continuous; Question and replies; Intonation
  • Materials: Video; Worksheet
What song are you listening to? pdf [downloaded 10775 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. If possible, show students a pair of earphones or headphones and teach them the words.
  2. Note: Like scissors, clothes and sunglasses, the words headphones and earphones are uncountable plurals.
  3. Ask students the following questions:
    • Do you listen to music on the street?
    • What equipment to you use? (mp3 player, mobile phone, etc.)
    • Do you wear earphones or headphones?
    • What are you listening to at the moment?
  4. Tell students that they are going to see a YouTube video in which a man with a camera stops people who are wearing headphones in the street. Write the following questions on the board and ask students to predict which one he asks:
  5. (a) Hey you! What song do you listen to?
    (b) Hey you! What song are you listening to?
    Note I: Question (a) sounds very strange in this situation. If we substitute the word song for music, it would make sense (Hey you! What music do you listen to?): This present simple question would serve to enquire about the listeners’ musical tastes in general.

    Note II: This is an opportunity to illustrate the semantics of the present continous.

    • Happening right now:  See question (b) above.
    • Happening around about now: See fourth question in step 2 (What are you listening to at the moment?)
  6. Ask students to suggest possible reactions – verbal or nonverbal – from the people on the street. Write all ideas on the board. Examples:
    • People are surprised.
    • People don’t hear the man.
    • People ignore him.
    • People stop and speak.
    • People think that they have misunderstood the question and say, “What?”
    • People say, “Sorry I can’t hear you!”
    • People say, “I’m not listening to a song. I’m listening to the radio.”
  7. Give out copies of the worksheet (included in PDF download). Make sure that students understand the listening task. See note on intonation below.
  8. Note: At this stage, you may want to drill the utterances in the table to clarify meaning. Different intonation patterns can result in different functions. Consider the utterance “What’s that?”

  9. Play the video clip.
  10. Let students compare answers.
  11. Go over the answers (included in the PDF download). If necessary, play the clip again, making use of the pause button to stop and start.

Follow up

Refer students to the video so that they can access it at home. Set them the following questions for homework:

  • Which person in the clip do you like the best and why?
  • Which person in the clip surprised you the most with their musical taste? Why?
  • Did you hear any other useful language in the video? What was it?
  • How many people had to look at their mp3 players to answer the question? Describe them.
  • How many people refused to answer the question? Describe them.
Posted 10/6/11

22 Responses to Wat song r u listening 2?

  1. Daniel says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Like this one a lot. Voxpops should be exploited more because they’re natural, spontaneous utterances prompted by a repeated structure. Here’s a learning website that exploits that in a similar way
    Like the NY clip, they ask simple questions such as “What do you do for a living?” to many passersby. You get to hear typical responses.

    My brother, Tom, works for another website that makes voxpops on all sorts of topics.
    One way learners could use this one would be to look up a favourite band and listen to other fans before or after a gig.

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Dan
    You are right. They are excellent for teaching English. Also language like is often thought to be too difficult for lower levels but a repeated structure (as you say) followed by short responses is perfect for beginners.
    Thank you for the links
    Jamie :-)

  3. burcu zorlu says:

    hİ jAMİE,

    Again it’s very inspiring,especially for the teeanagers, you know sometimes it’s hard to get in touch with them in the lesson,the time I had the lesson believe in me they were all ears:) and I enjoyed the lesson much, no interruption,no murmuring::) Thnx a lot for sharing.

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Burcu – great to get your comment :-)

  5. Nathalie says:

    Waow !! Really impressed by this lively lesson … I teach teenagers in a French school and I ‘m sure they’ll enjoy the topic as well as listening to real Newyorkers. The lesson is really well organized …Thnx ever so much

  6. Adil Tuğyan says:

    I really like the concept and the plan of this video and it is very motivating for my students.
    Today I used this video and the activities ,the impact was wonderful in the class.I also made a competition while duing the sheet exercise .Who ever got the most correct answers would get a big bar of chocolate.So everything was great in the class.Thank you for such a wonderful lesson.It surely gave me lots of new ideas.All The Best :)

  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Adil
    I’m glad to hear about your experience. I have used this activity twice and the second time it didn’t work so well. Thanks for restoring some of my confidence in the lesson plan!
    Jamie :-)

  8. jeremy says:

    Hi Jamie

    Just wanted to write and say thank-you for sharing your inspirational lesson plans. I’ve only just discovered this website recently and I’ve got to say it has made teaching my teenagers a pleasure again. I think they probably feel the same judging by some of their reactions.

    This lesson went down a treat with my Taiwanese teenagers who recognized more of the songs in the NY clip than I did. Also, I was surprised at how much of the language they were able to pick out from the video with the help of the worksheet and they were really motivated, for a change. Actually the best moment came after the class as i was walking through the car park to go home, lost in my little world listening to my headphones, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. It was one of the lads from the class who in the last 10 weeks, I’ve never heard say anything; “Hey teacher, what are you listening to?”. This made me really smile and will probably be my teaching highlight of the week. And, in case you are wondering, I was listening to the Owiny Sigoma Band.

    thanks Jamie

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Jeremy
    This is great news. And I love your story. I can just imagine that happening. I’ve just been trying to listen to the Owiny Sigoma Band but I am in an airport and don’t have headphones. People are giving me funny looks so I’ll have to bookmark it for later.
    Thanks very much for your comment
    Jamie :-)

  10. Eszter says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I just want to thank you this lesson plan, my students love this video,and we did the tasks too.
    Best regards,

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Eszter
    Happy to help and glad it worked well.
    Hope all is well in Hungary. Hope to get back there some day soon!
    Jamie :-)

  12. Eszter says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Yes all is well in Hungary, the weather is cold and foggy, but there are lovely Christmas markets everywhere, not only in Budapest:)
    I live and teach in Balatonfüred, this town is on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, zou shold come here to visit this part of Hungary too.Have a nice day,
    Best wishes,

  13. Paula says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Your lessons are fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Best Wishes,

    Paula ;)

  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    My pleasure Paula!
    Thanks for coming by.
    J :)

  15. kumar says:

    Hi, Jamie,
    you are doing a wonderful job here. thanks. I am planning to teach English to some Malian colleagues in Bamako. Most of them have never been to any formal school. Any ideas for teaching English to illiterate learners? It is to improve their lives while they search for work with expats. No commercial objectives whatsoever. Any help will be welcome.

  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Kumar
    Nice to hear from you. Thank you for your comment and your question.
    Unfortunately, I have never been in a situation like the one that you describe and I’m really not sure what advice to give you. I am sure that with your passion for the job and passion for your students you will do a great job. Go and inspire them and be their friend :)
    Let me know how you get on
    Jamie :)

  17. Vivienne says:

    Loved this lesson and so did my class. We rounded the whole thing off by the students writing down a song they liked and then they had to ask each other across the classroom, What song are you listening to? And a few of them used some of the responses from the video, Excuse me? or What song am I listening to? and so on. Great. If you remember the Buffalo Soldier guy, we also did a little exercise on ‘He’s not knitting, he’s crocheting.’

  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    Ha ha – love it! Great follow up activity. Thank you for sharing Vivienne.
    Jamie :)

  19. Kate says:

    Using it with OFSTEAD tomorrow………fingers crossed!!

  20. Jamie Keddie says:

    Oh my goodness me Kate!
    That is more pressure than I can handle. How did it go?
    Hope it was a success
    Jamie :)

  21. samantha says:

    Hey. I’m going to try this with my boys in Abu Dhabi tomorrow then get them to choose a vox pop question to ask all their friends and make videos. Let’s see how it goes….will let you know if it is a winner ;)

  22. Jamie Keddie says:

    Please let me know how it goes Samantha. I would love to see the video.
    Jamie :)