A lesson plan for beginners on the classic song by Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World” that promotes learner autonomy by breaking students into groups and giving each group a different assignment. The tasks focus on vocabulary, writing, grammar and comprehension.
I normally wouldn’t think that beginners could handle a song as difficult as “What a Wonderful World”, but after another teacher did it with his beginner class, I thought I would give it a shot. They really enjoyed it because they knew the song quite well, and while there is some difficult vocabulary in there, the gist is pretty simple to grasp.
- A copy of the song “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
- Lyrics to the song
Write the song title on the board and ask students what it means. See if they can elicit the meaning, “Boy the world is a wonderful, nice, happy place” and also that it is the title of the song. They may or may not know the title of the song, even if they know the song itself.
Play the song for the class and ask them what words or phrases they heard. What do they remember? Put up any words or phrases up on the board. This helps students to focus on picking up bits and pieces, without feeling like they have to understand every single word. Avoid explaining too much vocab at this point because you’ll preempt the main task.
Now play the song one more time and let them try to listen for more. Put up anything else they remember on the board and correct or edit anything they misheard the first time.
Now ask them what the song is about. If they can’t give a good answer, ask what they think these words and phrases that they remember collectively have in common. Hopefully they will have picked up on trees, rainbows, blue skies, babies, friends, I love you. With those images and the title, they should have a good idea that the song is about how beautiful the world is.
Now break the students into four groups. You can do this at random or by interest. Explain that each group will do a different task related respectively to: vocabulary, grammar, acting out the song, and writing. Students can choose what kind of task they want to do.
Hand out the lyrics to the song to the students – one copy per group often encourages collaboration more than one copy per student – and set each group their task. It may help to give them these directions translated into their native language if their level is very low.
Pick 5 words in the song you don’t know and find out what they mean. You may look them up in the dictionary or on the Internet. You may refer to your textbook or infer from context what they mean.
Now plan a lesson to teach the other students in the class these words. Think about how you will explain what they mean, how you will help them use these words and how you will test if they understand them.
Write two more verses to this song. Think about some other things you see in the world that make you happy. Try to follow the pattern of the song and even the rhyme scheme as best you can.
Underline all the verbs in the song. Which verbs are in Present Simple?
Then circle the subjects of the verbs.
Now double underline the objects of the verbs.
Write the questions that match the sentences in the present simple.
Your task is to make a skit or short play out of this song. Act it out for the other students. You will have to think about what actions you will make and how you can make any props or costumes from what you have in the classroom.
You can also do these as learning-stations. Set up four tables or groups of tables in the classroom and a task sheet at each table. Each group will sit at each table and do the task there for 20 minutes. Then signal that it’s time to move. Each group should move to a different table and start on a different task. That way, each group gets exposure to each task.
You can also assign one or more of these tasks as homework instead of doing it in the classroom as well.If you enjoyed this post, check out my books at www.AlphabetPublishingBooks.com.