The aim of this activity is to use the rhyming structure of the song Everything at Once by Lenka in order to fill in the gaps in the song’s lyrics. It is as much a pronunciation activity as it is a form of vocabulary revision since the lyrics feature a series of similes which additionally enable students to figure out the missing words. Suitable for both adult and teenage learners, levels pre-intermediate and higher.
Start by making sure your students are familiar with the concept of rhymes and elicit several examples of words that rhyme e.g.: ball/doll, make/take, top/drop, day/way, right/night and so on.
Next, go briefly through the concept of a simile (no need to mention this term) to showcase how things/people might be compared in English. Ask your students to finish the following:
as beautiful as …. (Scarlett Johansson, a rose, a rainbow)
as clever as … (Einstein, a fox )
as strong as … ( a weightlifter, Arnold S., sumo wrestler)
Now, introduce the task. The objective of the activity is to fill in the gaps in the lyrics to the song Everything at Once by Lenka without listening to it. What your students need to keep in mind:
- the missing word rhymes with the word in the same line (sound)
- the missing word is a part of a logical comparison (content)
Point to the first line of the song and ask your students to identify the rhyme (fox/ox), and the comparison (the fox is sly and the ox is strong).
Students work on their worksheets individually or in pairs. Check the answers together as a whole group and discuss whether the words fit the gaps as far the sound and content are concerned (especially when students present several different ideas).
At this point you have a great opportunity to hear and correct some pronunciation errors: one of my students came up with the rhyme “as free as a LORD, as neat as a WORD” basing their assumption of the fact that the two are spelled similarly (a very tricky moment in English!). Once we established that lord and word are pronounced differently, a lot of my students were surprised that there is no long /ɔː/ sound in word.
Finally, listen to the song to confirm/discard your students’ answers.
I first thought of this exercise as sort of a filler, a 10-minute activity to be used at the end of class. The first time I tried, it quickly turned into a pronunciation activity where we corrected some fossilized errors or explained how the sound and spelling don’t always correspond with each other in English (bite-night rhyme). Even though my adult students were considerably slower at completing this activity (regardless of their level) they showed much more interest in pronunciation practice than the teenagers I did this exercise with. Both older and younger ones had a lot of fun trying to list more words rhyming with X from the song: (sun/fun/done/bun/nun/none/pun/gun).
student’s worksheet: Everything At Once
teacher’s key: Everything At Once_teacher