Teaching English listening with popular music is one of the best ways to help your students. They always enjoy the songs, and it is a change from the usual dialogues on CD. Choosing good music can be a challenge. However, with a little research and effort, you can find songs that target the language you are teaching.
“Sparks” by Coldplay is always a good choice for listening class, and is particularly successful in a high-beginner class.
Coldplay is one of the most famous musical groups in the world. Lead singer Chris Martin is also a well-known celebrity. They have released 4 albums, all of which have been highly successful.
Students have already been listening to their music, so bringing it into the classroom is an easy transition. They will enjoy using Coldplay songs to practice their listening, and will probably already know this song. If they don’t know the song, they will certainly know who Coldplay is.
“Sparks” was one of Coldplay’s first singles, and is still one of their best songs. It was featured in the movie Wedding Crashers.
The song is good for listening class because it uses all three simple verb tenses. These include simple present, future, and past.
For the simple past, there is a good question with “did” to open the song. There are also other examples of verbs in the past tense.
For simple present, there is a good example of using always to show routine.
And for the simple future, there are many good contractions with “will”.
Using this song in a beginner listening class allows them to develop their understanding of the three tenses together.
It is also good for beginners because the singer does not sing very fast. Christ Martin’s style of singing is somewhat slow, so the beginner students can follow along.
You can do a number of activities with the song, the most common being a cloze exercise where students listen to the music and fill in the blanks.
You can also use the lyrics to guide the students through a discovery of the three verb tenses. You could ask them to highlight the different tenses with different colours. They can investigate the different verbs and how they create the tenses.
you can also use information on Coldplay as a listening exercise. read their bio from Wikipedia, and the students can answer some comprehension questions.
As an extension, you could look at the tabloid information on Chris Martin and Gweneth Paltrow.
For a video and listening exercise, you can use this link