Learning English with Songs

Songs can be a fun way to learn English. Different songs show different language features, but most pop songs are fairly simple. Class groups can enjoy learning together.
The use of repetition and the catchy tunes also make pop songs a good way to learn English.

The song chosen here is “Only when I sleep”, by the Corrs.
(You may prefer to use your own favorite bands or singers to learn English with)
Using this song, I plan to explain four English grammar points,
1. Two basic Verb tenses
2. Contractions
3. Metaphors
4. Pronouns

In the first lesson, we will look at the words of the song (called lyrics). We will check the meaning of any difficult vocabulary. After that, we will revise the two main present tense forms, present simple and present continuous. Finally, we will revise contractions.

Only When I sleep
You’re  only just a dream boat    sailing in my head
you swim my secret oceans        of coral blue and red
your smell is incense burning      your touch is silken yet
it reaches through my skin           moving from within
and clutches at my breast

But it’s only when I sleep             I see you in my dreams
you got me spinning round and round    turning upside down
but I only hear you breathe         somewhere in my sleep
you got me spinning round and round and turning upside down
but it’s only when I sleep

and when I wake from slumber your shadow’s disappeared
your breath is just a sea mist      surrounding my body
I’m working through the day time            but when it’s time to rest
I’m lying in my bed          listening to my breath
falling from the edge

But it’s only when I sleep             I see you in my dreams
you got me spinning round and round    turning upside down
I hear you breath             somewhere in my sleep
you got me spinning round and round    turning upside down
but it’s only when I sleep             yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
only when I sleep

dream boat; coral; incense; silken; clutches; slumber; sea mist; surrounding;

1. Verb Tenses
You may remember in lessons before we learned about Present Simple and Present Continuous tenses. The song, Only When I Sleep, almost always uses these tenses.  Remember, both these tenses are NOW tenses.
Yuki plays tennis – Present Simple tense (it means regularly, usually everyday)
Yuki is learning English – Present Continuous tense (it goes on for some time, minutes or hours)

verb tenses in the song, “Only when I sleep”.
present simple –
are (you’re); swim; is; reaches; clutches;

present continuous-
sailing; burning; moving; spinning;

2. Contractions
In English grammar, a contraction happens when we shorten one or more words.  Examples:
cannot – can’t
we are – we’re
they are – they’re
should have – should’ve
Notice that we use a sign called an Apostrophe [ ‘ ] instead of the missing letters,
when we write a contraction.

contractions in the song, “Only when I sleep”.
you’re – you are
it’s – it is
shadow’s – shadow has
I’m – I am

3. Metaphors

Metaphors are clever words used mostly in songs and poetry.
Sometimes we describe something using one word.
For example, she is unkind.
UNKIND is an adjective or describing word.
We can also use a few clever words which describe something.
For example, she has a heart of stone.
HEART OF STONE is a metaphor
it means – she has a HARD HEART, she is unkind
metaphors are usually not really true.
He is a race horse.
RACE HORSE is a metaphor.
it means –  he can run very fast.
but he is NOT truly a race horse!
A blanket of snow is covering the streets of Sapporo.
BLANKET OF SNOW is a metaphor
it means the snow is like a blanket
but it’s not the same as a blanket on our bed at home!

the song has many metaphors
dream boat; sailing in my head; sail my secret oceans;
your smell is incense burning
reaches through my skin
clutches at my breast
spinning round and round
turning upside down
your breath is just a sea mist
falling from the edge

4. Pronouns
Pronouns are words used in place of nouns. They are words like he, she, it, you, they, him, your, and her. We can talk about someone without having to repeat their name. My English teacher is Mr. Finch. He lives in Perth. I like to have him as my teacher.
MY, HE, and HIM are pronouns.
I/you/ it/ my/your

New Sentence form
Only when I sleep            I see you in my dreams
there are two parts in this sentence –
something happens ……… only ……… when something else happens

I wear my sunglasses …… only when it’s sunny
she takes an umbrella ……. only when it rains
my mother drives our car …….. only when father is away
thunder only happens ……… when it rains

notice, we usually say “only when” in the second part of a sentence.
But to fit the music in the song, she sings “only when” first.
use the “only when” grammar form to make sentences:
1.  see my best friend    go to school
2. Study English with Denver       it’s Wednesday night
3. Ride my bicycle            weather is fine
4. Sleep late       it’s holidays
5. Only watch television                                have no homework

Can you think of any other situations in which you can use “only when”? Think about things you usually do, your habits and routines, or family or friends.

More Practice with “Only when”
Join the correct parts from Side A with Side B (for example 1 matches with c )

Side A                                                                     Side B
1. She wears her sunglasses a. only when it is winter.
2. Dad takes our dog for a walk b. only when I have no homework.
3. Snow falls in Tokyo c. only when it is sunny.
4. I watch tv d. only when we go to a restaurant.
5. We eat pizza e. only when my brother and I study for tests.


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