Time To Teach Teenagers: Bring Your Own Music

Avril Lavigne

Bring your own music. That was today’s homework. Three teens brought one song, and I brought one. One + one = fun.

So, what did I do today?

1. Who can tell me what we did yesterday?

Students: Bear hunt.

Me: Great. Do you remember the main vocabulary?

Students: Bear, hunt, grass, river, mud, forest, snowstorm, cave.

Me: Fantastic. Now, who remembers the order of events?

Student 1: A – B – C – D – E – F
Student 2: A – C – B – E – D – F
Student 3: A – C – D – B – F – E

Me: Let’s watch the video of Michael Rosen to see who is correct.
Students: OK. (We watch video)
After watching: Student 1: I was right! 🙂
Me: Good job. Congratulations!

2. Song

Me: Did you bring a song?

Students: Yes. We brought one song.

Me: Great! Let’s listen to it.

Song: “Don’t Tell Me” by AVRIL LAVIGNE

You held my hand and walked me home, I know
Why you gave me that kiss it was something like this it made me go ooh ohh
You wiped my tears, got rid of all my fears, why did you have to go?
Guess it wasn’t enough to take up some of my love
Guys are so hard to trust
Did I not tell you that I’m not like that girl?
The one who gives it all away, yeah

Did you think that I was gonna give it up to you, this time?
Did you think that it was somethin I was gonna do and cry?
Don’t try to tell me what to do,
Dont try to tell me what to say,
You’re better off that way

Don’t think that your charm and the fact that your arm is now around my neck
Will get you in my pants I’ll have to kick your ass and make you never forget
I’m gonna ask you to stop, thought I liked you a lot, but I’m really upset
Get out of my head get off of my bed yeah thats what I said
Did I not tell you that I’m not like that girl, the one who, throws it all away


This guilt trip that you put me on won’t, mess me up I’ve done no wrong
Any thoughts of you and me have gone away


Better off that way
I’m better off alone anyway

*** End of Song

Time To Teach Teenagers

Now, what did I do with this great song? Well, I picked one repetitive element, the use of the negative imperative:

“Don’t try to tell me what to do,
Dont try to tell me what to say”

Me: “When was the last time you said to someone: “Don’t tell me what to do?

Student 1: (the boy) – “I never say that but sometimes my football coach tells me what to do while I’m playing on the field. I look at him like I’m listening but then I do what I know is the right thing to do, which is usually the opposite of what he tells me to do.”

Me: Haha haha. Anyone else?

Student 2: “My parents always tell me a thousand times what time I have to be home if I go to visit a friend. I always say, “Don’t tell me what time to be home because I already know.”

Me: Haha haha. What do your parents do when you say that?

Student 2: They don’t tell me anymore. They say, “OK. You tell us, What time do you have to be home?”

Me: (Turning to student 3) What about you?
Student 3: I can’t remember the last time I told someone that.

Me: OK. I brought a song too. It’s by Harry Belafonte, and it’s called the “Banana Boat Song”. It was in the movie, “Beetle Juice”. Have you seen that movie?

Students: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Me: OK. Let’s watch the music video made for that movie with Harry singing. I want you to pay attention to the pronunciation of the words. By the way, you’re not afraid of monsters,are you?

Students: Nooooo. (We watch the YouTube music video).

(After listening) Me: What did you notice about the pronunciation?

Students 1 & 2: It’s different.

Student 3: Yeah. It’s different.

Me: Would you say it was similar to Bob Marley?

Students: Yes, it was like Bob.

Me: You are right. It sounds like it comes from the island of Jamaica.

Let’s look at Karaoke version.

Student 3: “I don’t want to sing.”

Me: We’re going to look at the words to the song and discuss the story behind the song. (A song about a banana picker – on the night shift – yearning for the day to come).

Student 3: OK.

(After going through the song, line by line)

Me: Now that we have gone through the entire song, why do you think the word(s) day and daylight are repeated so often throughout the song?

Student 3: It means freedom. The banana picker can go home after a long hard night working.

Me: (Turning to student 1) What must happen before the banana picker goes home?

Student 1: Money. Someone counts how many bananas there are and then the banana picker gets money for the bananas he picked.

Me: Very good. (Turning to student 2) Would you like to be a banana picker?

Student 2: Noooo!

Me: Why not?

Student 3: It’s a sad job.

Me: I agree with you. Before we go today, who can summarise what we did today, in your own words?

Student 1: Today we listened to two songs.

Me: (turning to student 2) What can you add to that?

Student 2: The songs were by Avril Lavigne and Harry Belafonte.

Me: OK. (turning to Student 3) What can you add to that?

Student 3: Being a banana picker is a dangerous job, with low pay, and it’s hard. It’s a sad job.

Me: Thank you. For homework, I want you to find out how to make a banana split. Tomorrow we will be talking about the order, or steps, in making a delicious banana split. See you tomorrow!

Students: See you tomorrow teacher…

***End of Class
OK, dear reader, how did I do?

Again, did the students learn anything worthwhile today? What evidence can you point to in the text / class transcript to support your answer? Or did I once again survive the hour, this time by showing video clips? Will the students do the “homework”?

Do you have questions for me? Why did I do this, and not that? Would you have done something differently?

I look forward to your comments. Have a great day everyone. More tomorrow!


About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Education, EFL, Reflections, Teaching Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Time To Teach Teenagers: Bring Your Own Music

  1. Can I join your class?


    • Hi Elona,

      Welcome back! Sure you can join my class. Let’s make you the fourth student, OK? I am pleased you would like to participate. Tomorrow there will be more. See you “in class”…

      Have a great day!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s