The A Team – Ed Sheeran

I’m a huge fan of this talented man and have heard nothing but great feedback from his concert in Zürich last night, which calls for another post!

This is his first released tune, full of vocabulary about the body, describing people (including a great simile using pastries!) clothing, past simple and past participle verbs, expressions such as “the upper hand” – being in a position of control (or not, as the song suggests) and “the Motherland” – your home country.

Themes running through the song and its video are homelessness, drug use and prostitution, which, depending on the age of your students, could be discussed further during a follow-up activity.

The video shows scenes of London, such as Angel Underground station, some typical High Street shops you can find in the UK like Monsoon, and more importantly, the girl is seen selling a copy of The Big Issue, a magazine written for and sold by the homeless or unemployed people to help support them.

Here are the lyrics and you can find the video here.

White lips, pale face
Breathing in snowflakes
Burnt lungs, sour taste
Light’s gone, day’s end
Struggling to pay rent
Long nights, strange men

And they say
She’s in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since eighteen
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
‘Cause we’re just under the upper hand
And go mad for a couple grams
And she don’t want to go outside tonight
And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland
Or sells love to another man
It’s too cold outside
For angels to fly
Angels to fly

Ripped gloves, raincoat
Tried to swim and stay afloat
Dry house, wet clothes
Loose change, bank notes
Weary-eyed, dry throat
Call girl, no phone

And they say
She’s in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since eighteen
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
‘Cause we’re just under the upper hand
And go mad for a couple grams
And she don’t want to go outside tonight
And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland
Or sells love to another man
It’s too cold outside
For angels to fly
An angel will die
Covered in white
Closed eye
And hoping for a better life
This time, we’ll fade out tonight
Straight down the line

And they say
She’s in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since eighteen
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
They scream
The worst things in life come free to us
And we’re all under the upper hand
Go mad for a couple grams
And we don’t want to go outside tonight
And in a pipe we fly to the Motherland
Or sell love to another man
It’s too cold outside
For angels to fly
Angels to fly
To fly, fly
For angels to fly, to fly, to fly
For angels to die

Ideas to pre-teach vocabulary:

  • Show some pictures on the board to elicit vocabulary.
  • Match the words or pictures with the correct meaning (or get more advanced students to do this for others in the class).
  • Students pick 10 words they don’t know. Swap ideas with a partner and they teach each other the meanings. Are there any common unknown words? How did they explain the meaning to their partner?
  • The teacher can be a human dictionary, too, of course 🙂

Ideas for gap fills:

  • Take out all rhyming words.
  • Take out all the past simple and participle verbs.
  • Omit the clothing vocabulary.
  • Mix some of the verses up so that students have to put them in the correct order (more advanced students could do any of these activities for others in the class.)

Follow-up activities:

  • Ask students for their opinion of the song. Discuss in pairs then feedback to the class: What do they like about it? What don’t they like? What do they understand from it? (Particularly if you haven’t gone over any of the vocabulary with them first.)
  • Direct students to the Big Issue website on their phones, tablets, laptops/PCs and ask them to choose an article to read, then present it to the class for the next lesson. Do they have a similar publication in their own country?
  • Get students to create a drug awareness campaign in the form of a poster or an advert to advise young people on the dangers of drug usage.
  • Alternative: Help the homeless campaign.
  • Create role plays: Students/friends/parents need to give advice to someone they know who could be taking drugs, your parents catch you with a joint in your room and you have to explain yourself, your friends are all taking MDMA on a night out but you don’t want to… Many ideas here, depending on the age of your students.
  • Prostitution debate: Should prostitution be legalised? Split the class into 2 groups and have some argue for and some against.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post.

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