Where have I been?

I set up this blog nearly a year ago and have been blown away by the level of interest and positive feedback. Around 100,000 people have viewed the lessons and I hope students all over the world have benefitted from it.

However, there have been a few developments in my life which means I’m no longer producing song lessons at the rate I once was. Firstly, my wife gave birth to a beautiful little boy. He’s amazing, but takes up most of my free time. Consequently, Lyrical English had to take a back seat.


The school I work in also changed their adult product and it meant I couldn’t use songs in the classroom. I’m starting a new class with teenagers soon, so I hope that leads to a few new song based lessons.

I’ve also been teaching a lot of IELTS recently and my students have convinced me to put some of the advice I give them online.

The result is a new website called IELTS Advantage.

It is all free advice, along with lessons and sample answers. The aim of the website is to provide free support for IELTS students and allow them to study at home for free.

If you have any IELTS students please fell free to share it with them. Thank you.

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Ryan Sheridan- Home

Recently Ryan Sheridan asked Irish people living abroad to make a short video about what they miss the most about home.

He made a great music video about it and being Irish myself it inspired me to write a lesson plan about it.

In the lesson students learn a few things about Ireland and practice the second conditional.

The lesson plan can be downloaded here and the accompanying slides can be downloaded here.

My students loved it and had great fun doing the final activity. I hope yours like it too.

Main aim– by the end of the lesson students will be better able to use the second conditional to talk about what they would miss about home if they lived in a different country.

Sub aim– to recognise lexis associated with Ireland.

Materials– PowerPoint and videos (links on PowerPoint). Cut out pictures on slide 3, 1 per group.

Time- 60 minutes.


  1. Show slide 1. Start video from 0.05. Students watch video to 0.49 and guess country. Play video until end to confirm country.
  2. Show slide 2. Students predict what Irish people miss about home. Board predictions and watch second video to check.
  3. Cut out pictures on slide 3 and give to each group. Students try to identify vocabulary.
  4. Slide 4. Match pictures to responses in the videos.
  5. CCQs and pronunciation on 9 new words.
  6. Show slide 5 to provide language. Students discuss the things they would miss. Monitor for correct use. Board good and bad examples. CCQ use of second conditional.
  7. Slide 6. On a piece of A4 students write the one thing they would miss the most about home. Encourage them to keep this a secret. They will reveal it later.
  8. Students guess what the other people in their group have written.
  9. Students reveal their choices in the same style as the music video.


Do you teach IELTS? You might want to check out our lesson on Task 2 Agree or Disagree questions.

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Feeling Good by Nina Simone

ninasimoneindianstyle This is a beautiful song and one I’m sure that will motivate your students. I have decided to use this song to raise awareness of stress patterns and rhythm. Students look at pictures rather than lyrics and speculate what the lyrics are based on a stress pattern. They then have the opportunity to write their own version of this famous song. I hope you enjoy it and please give me your feedback if you decide to use it. Links to the lesson plan and worksheet are at the bottom. Lesson Plan  Main aim– by the end of the lesson students’ awareness of stress patterns and rhythm will have been raised and they will have the opportunity to write their own version of a popular song. Materials– Lyrics worksheet here. Time- 60 minutes. Procedure

  1. Write this stress pattern on the board:


  1. Hum the stress pattern with the students and then drill a few phrases such as:

What do you mean? Walk in the park. Over the hill. Where was he from? Give me a call.

  1. Elicit any more phrases that match this stress pattern.
  1. Tell students that you are going to listen to a song. In this song a woman is singing about the things that make her feel good. Before you listen to the song you are going to show them pictures of the things she sings about. The pictures match the stress pattern above.
  1. Hand out the lyrics with the pictures replacing the words. Students have to think of phrases that match the pictures and stress pattern.
  1. Students compare ideas with other small groups.
  1. Students listen once to check their ideas.
  1. Students listen a second time and write down exactly what they hear.
  1. Drill or sing the lines depending on how adventurous your class feels.
  2. Students mark the stress pattern on the remaining things that make Nina happy e.g. Dragonfly out in the sun/Sleep in peace when day is done.
  3. Students work in small groups to write their own version of the song. They replace the things that Nina wrote about with personal things. Mark the stress pattern on each of the lines. They then compare with another group.

To download this lesson plan click here. The lyrics worksheet can be downloaded here.


Do you teach IELTS? If you do our sister website IELTS Advantage might be of interest to you. It has lots of free IELTS advice including writing task 1, writing task 2, speaking, listening and reading.

For example our post on Writing Task 2 topics shows students the most common topics on the second part of the writing paper.

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Developing Pronunciation Awareness Through Limericks

Hello everyone! It has been a while since you have heard from me. My wife had a baby six weeks ago and this has taken up most of my time. Baby and mummy are doing really well, so it is back work for me.

Last weekend I was invited to speak at an ELT conference in Rangoon, Burma. I had a great time talking to the wonderful local teachers there and I was really impressed with the quality of teaching.


As you can see, it is a beautiful city and I hope to visit again soon.

Developing Pronunciation Awareness Through Limericks

My presentation was on how to raise awareness of several pronunciation features. One of the ways of doing this is through limericks.

Limericks contain many pronunciation features such as sentence stress, rhythm, intonation, rhyming words  and many more. They also have a uniform structure which makes it easy for students to understand them. Last but not least, they are great fun to write and perform.

Lesson Plan 

I have developed a full lesson plan on how to use limericks in the classroom and this can be downloaded here. The worksheet can be downloaded here. There is also an accompanying PowerPoint presentation that can downloaded here.

Lots of the teachers at my school have tried this lesson and it always helps students raise their pronunciation awareness and by all accounts they had great fun too.

I hope you enjoy the lesson and please feel free to give me any feedback.

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The Beatles Comparatives and Superlatives Lesson Plan


In this lesson I have used the Beatles’ changing appearance and musical style to provide students with the opportunity to practice using comparatives and superlatives.

Students compare images of the Beatles from 1963 and 1970. There was quite a change as you will see.

Students then look at the musical progression from I Want To Hold Your Hand through to I Am The Walrus. Again, many students were shocked at how much the songs changed and this really engaged them.


Finally they discuss Beatles’ album covers using both comparative and superlative structures.

I have prepared a PowerPoint presentation and each step of the lesson is included in the notes section at the bottom of each slide.

The PowerPoint can be downloaded here.

I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine did.


Do you teach IELTS? You might want to check out our IELTS Writing Task 2 page.

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All of Me by John Legend

In this song John Legend uses opposite meanings to convey how he feels about his wife. It is a very ‘honest’ love song. I think it reflects real life rather than a fairytale version of a relationship.

This provides a good opportunity for students to discuss love songs, identify the opposite meanings and then interpret what the songwriter really means. Students then use what they have learned to talk about their own loved ones.

Materials: PowerPoint slides here , song on YouTube, slide 6 printed off and cut up 1/group , worksheet without explanations 1/pair here and worksheet with explanation 1/pair and cut up here.

Level: Upper Intermediate + adults


  1. Warmer– Students discuss love songs. Questions on slide 2.
  1. Prediction– Students predict what song is about based on title and discuss whether love songs are honest and if they reflect reality. Questions on slide 3. Good opportunity to clarify the difference between literal and metaphorical lyrics.
  1. First listen– Slide 4. Students listen and think about the questions they discussed on slide 3.
  1. Focus on lexis– Introduce idea that songwriter uses opposites meanings to convey meaning on slide 5. Cut up slide 6 and students match opposite meanings.
  1. Second listen– Listen again to check answers.
  1. Lyrics Analysis 1– Hand out worksheet with lyrics and no explanations. Students work together to work out meanings of each part of the song.
  1. Lyrics Analysis 2– Cut out explanations provided on work sheet and stick these up around the room. Students walk around and compare their explanations.
  1. Discussion– Students discuss interpretations. Questions on slide 10.
  1. Opposite Meanings– Show slide 11. Concept check. Show lines with contrasting ideas on slide 12 and students try to fill in the missing words. Answers are in the notes sections of this slide.

Personalise– Show slide 13. Students think of how they feel about a loved one and explain how they feel about them using opposite meanings.


Do you teach IELTS? Are your students struggling with IELTS Writing Task 2? Check out our sister site IELTS Advantage for lots of articles on IELTS Writing Task 2 skills, sample essays and full lessons.

Do you


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Stunning New App- Adobe Voice


I have used quite a few apps with my students that have really enhanced their learning experience but Voice is hands down the best one.

It can transform a boring writing or speaking task in to one that students are totally engaged in and have a real reason to produce English.

What is it?

It is a digital storytelling app that allows students to record their voice and integrate it with text and pictures. The interface is very intuitive and anyone can get to grips with it in a few minutes. The product is a short movie that looks very professional. Students can choose from many different themes and change the background music.

How Does It Work?

The app has several templates that can be used to create a video, including “Explain Something,” “Teach a Lesson,” “Share an Invitation,” and “Promote an Idea,”.

Just choose a template and it walks you through what you have to do.

Icons, text, and pictures are then added to each slide. If you run out of inspiration simply type in a word and Adobe will give you a list of suggested images to use. After a few minutes you will have a really slick looking presentation or short movie.


Great. So how do I use this in the classroom?

The possibilities are endless but here are just a few.

My elementary class used pictures from a story board to review the present continuous. They simply took photos of each picture and then said what was happening in each picture. They showed it to the rest of the class and they peer reviewed them.

The same class used the app to work on the past simple and past continuous. They watched a short film, compared notes and then used the app to tell the story. They inserted pictures to go along with each sentence to bring the story alive.

My advanced class used the app to promote a solution to an environmental problem. They first researched the problem and came up with possible solutions. They then used the app to create a short marketing campaign.

The app is absolutely fee and you can get it here . You will need a few iPads though. If your school does not have any ask a few of your students to bring them in. I am always surprised how many students have them at home.

Please let me know how you get in with the app. Enjoy!

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