ESL Songs: Coldplay – Christmas Lights – intermediate

Here’s the first of a new series of ESL songs, Coldplay – Christmas Lights – to help your students improve their listening and pronunciation skills. My aim is to provide class activities and worksheets that will make students aware of the importance of using songs to learn English. Apart from providing general gist activities to get the students actually thinking about what the songs are about, I plan to focus on aspects of connected speech..

Photo by Lauren Manning

One thing I’ve learnt while doing my DELTA is that students need to be made aware of how words join together. I don’t think it’s important that they know all the terminology like assimilation, elision, but you can get them to appreciate how sounds change, disappear, get added, or join together.

I’ve chosen Coldplay Christmas lights because there are a few examples of how sounds change. Just in case you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about (I wouldn’t have three months ago) then let me explain briefly.

Here’s the first verse of the song:

Christmas night, another fight,
tears we cried; a flood.
Got all kinds of poison in, poison in my blood,
took my feet, to Oxford street, trying to right a wrong.
“Just walk away”, those windows say, but I can’t believe she’s gone.

What do you think happens to the following two chunks of language?
‘kinds of poison in’
‘trying to right a wrong’

Listen and have a check. (If it doesn’t work here then just click on the link).

As you can see the words join. Phonetically they would be something like this:

/kɑɪɴzəpɔɪsənɪn/ ‘kinds’ joins with ‘of’, which becomes the schwa, and also the start of poison. So like this kindsapoisonin.

/trɑɪnərɑɪərɒŋ/ ‘trying’ looses the final ng sound and joins with ‘to’, which also has a schwa, and also with ‘a wrong’. So like this tryinarightawrong.

I’ve done the activity so students have to listen for chunks of language. Once they’ve listened a couple of times you can put the answers on the board and get them to practise saying the words joined together before they sing it. The main idea is to make students aware of how words join together. If they can start producing language like this, then great, but to start with just making them aware should help them with their listening skills. This is a bit of an experiment, so any feedback would be great.

Just in case you can’t download the worksheet I’ve put the activity here too.

Coldplay – Christmas lights
Watch the first two minutes of this video by Coldplay, write down 5 words that you think might be in the song. You can’t write ‘Christmas’ or ‘lights.’
Now listen, are your words in the song? 

What’s the song about?

Now listen again and try to fill in these blanks.
Christmas night, another fight,
tears we cried; a flood.
Got all 1) ____________, poison in my blood,
took my feet, to Oxford Street, 2) __________.
“Just walk away”, those windows say, but I can’t believe she’s gone.

When you’re still 3) _______________,
 
it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.

A group of cameras on there flicker, oh they flicker and they flow.
And I’m up here holding on to all those chandeliers of hope.
Like some drunkard Elvis singing, I go 4) _________.
Singing how I always loved you darling, and I always will.

Oh when I’m still 5) _____________,
it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.
Still 6) _____________, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.

Those Christmas lights, 7) ___________, 
down where the sea and city meet.
May all your troubles soon be gone,
oh Christmas lights, 8) __________.

Those Christmas lights, 9) ___________.
Maybe they’ll bring her 10) __________.
Then all my troubles will be gone,
 
Oh Christmas lights, 11) ________

Oh Christmas lights, 12) __________ .
 13) _______________ in me.
May all your troubles soon be gone,
those Christmas lights, 14) _____________.

Answers

1      kinds of poison in
2   trying to right a wrong
3, 5, 6 waiting for thesnow to fall
4     singing out of tune
     7, 9, 12 light up the street
     8, 11, 14 keep shining on
     10 back to me
     13 light up the fireworks
Coldplay – Christmas lights
Full lyrics
Christmas night, another fight,
tears we cried; a flood.
Got all kinds of poison in, poison in my blood,
took my feet, to Oxford street, trying to right a wrong.
“Just walk away”, those windows say, but I can’t believe she’s gone.

When you’re still waiting for the snow to fall,
 
it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.

A group of cameras on there flicker, oh they flicker and they flow.
And I’m up here holding on to all those chandeliers of hope.
Like some drunkard Elvis singing, I go singing out of tune.
Singing how I always loved you darling, and I always will.

Oh when I’m still waiting for the snow to fall, 
it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.
Still waiting for the snow to fall, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.

Those Christmas lights, light up the street, 
down where the sea and
city meet.
May all your troubles soon be gone,
oh Christmas lights, keep shining on.

Those Christmas lights, light up the street.
Maybe they’ll bring her back to me.
Then all my troubles will be gone,
 
Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on.

Oh Christmas lights, light up the street.
Light up the fireworks in me.
May all your troubles soon be gone,
those Christmas lights, keep shining on.

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