12 songs to practice the pronunciation of -ED endings

As you know, the “-ed” endings of regular past tense verbs can be pronounced in three different ways: /t/, /d/ and /ɪd/, which is the one most students tend to overuse. Click here for an overview of the rules.

Over the years, I have found that /t/ and /d/ are easier to notice and to produce if the verb comes immediately before a word beginning with a vowel sound:

liked it – /laɪktɪt/
dreamed of – /driːmdəv/

To help students get their tongues around the two sounds, I usually ask them to move /t/ and /d/ to the front of the vowel sound. This makes it obvious that there’s no room for /ɪ/:

liked it – /laɪk tɪt/
dreamed of – /driːm dəv/

Out of all the ideas and techniques I’ve used in class, this has probably been the most effective.

So I decided to put together a 7-minute video containing 12 song excerpts you can use to help your students notice how /t/ and /d/ are linked to the vowel sounds that follow. There’s a good mix of recent and older songs, which should appeal to lots of different students.

The video is suitable for late A2, B1 and B2 students, who will have learned the basic -ED rules, but may still struggle to produce the sounds accurately. The on-screen activities are all self-explanatory.

You will notice that the activities do not test whether students can choose between /t/ and /d/. The difference is barely audible in fast connected speech, and it rarely causes misunderstandings. Also, since most students tend to overuse /ɪd/ and avoid /t/ or /d/, the song excerpts focus on the latter, rather than the former.

By the way, if the video is out of synch, go back to the beginning and / or refresh the page.

Thanks for reading – and watching.

“Jump”: Risk-taking vocabulary through music

This is a ready-made lesson you can use with your intermediate / upper-intermediate students. Copy and paste whatever you want to your heart’s content! You can use it to introduce / supplement those classic coursebook units on risk-taking, overcoming adversity etc. or as a stand-alone lesson.
The song is a mid-tempo ballad sung by Take That’s Gary Barlow, so it may not appeal to teens. It is filled with useful vocabulary, though, so you might want to give it a try anyway. This lesson has never been tested, so any feedback is most welcome. Continue reading “Jump”: Risk-taking vocabulary through music

15 songs with comparatives

This is an updated version of the four music videos containing examples of comparatives I posted back in 2010. The response was so overwhelming and the number of searches so staggering that I decided to put together a nice, 8-minute video, containing 15 different song excerpts, organized by date – in the molds of my present perfect songs. Continue reading 15 songs with comparatives

16 present perfect songs

This is a 10-minute video meant to remind you of / introduce you to songs containing the present perfect. Once you’ve picked the ones you like / your students might like (or have fun trashing), you can google up the lyrics and look up the video clip on Youtube.

Have fun. By the way, the video might take about 10 seconds to load. Be patient.

1. Michael Bublé: Haven’t met you yet
And I know someday that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work
So we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid that I’ll give
So much more than I get
just haven’t met you yet

2. Bryan Adams: Have you ever really loved a woman?
When you love a woman
then tell her that she’s really wanted
When you love a woman then tell her that she’s the one
’cause she needs somebody to tell her that it’s gonna last forever
So tell me
have you ever really
really really ever loved a woman?

3. Rod Stewart: Have you ever seen the rain?
I wanna know
Have you ever seen the rain?
Coming down on a sunny day

4. Charlene: I’ve never been to me.
I can see so much of me
Still living in your eyes
Won’t you share a part of a weary heart
has lived a million lives
I’ve been to Nice and the isle of Greece
When I sipped champagne on a yatch
I moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed them what I’ve got
I’ve been undressed by kings
and I’ve seen some things that a woman ain’t supposed to see
I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me

5. Madonna: Take a bow
I’ve always been in love with you
I guess
you’ve always known it’s true
You took my love for granted why
The show is over say good bye

6. Barry Manilow: I write the songs 
I’ve been alive forever
And I wrote the very first song
I put the words and the melodies together
I am music and I write the songs

7. U2: Still haven’t found what I’m looking for
I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you
But I sill haven’t found what I’m looking for

8. Carpenters: A song for you 
I’ve been so many places in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs
I’ve made some bad rhyme
I’ve acted out my love in stages
With ten thousand people watching
But we’re alone now and I’m singing this song for you

9. James Taylor: Fire and rain
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I thought I could not find a friend
But I always thought I’d see you again

10. Paula Cole: Where have all the cowboys gone?
I will do the laundry
If you pay all the bills
Where is my John Wayne
Where is my prairie son
Where is my happy ending?
Where have all the cowboys gone?

11. Barbra Streisand: The way we were 
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me would we
Could we

12. Elton John: Your song
So excuse me forgetting
But these things I do
You see
I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes
I’ve ever seen
And you can tell everybody this is your song

13. SOS Band: The finest
My friends say I’m lucky
To have someone as good as you
My love’s understanding
Understanding how to hold on to you
After all that
we’ve been through

Time won’t change the way I feel about you

Out of all the loves before
You’re the finest
I’ve ever known

14. ABBA: The winner takes it all 
I don’t wanna talk
About things
we’ve gone through
Though it’s hurting me
Now it’s history
I’ve played all my cards
And that’s
what you’ve done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play

15. Rod Stewart: Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there’s no one else above you?
You feel my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles that’s what you do

16. Eva Cassidy: You’ve changed
You’ve changed
That sparkle in your eyes is gone
Your smile is just a careless yawn
It’s all over know
You’ve changed

Thank you!

By the way, if you’re struggling with your academic writing, check out The Only Academic Phrasebook You’ll Ever Need, which contains 600 sentences, as well as grammar and vocabulary tips. E-book available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Academic language