Hello and Happy New Year! For those of you who celebrated it, I hope you had plenty of festive fun over the Christmas period and everyone had a good start to 2018! This week it’s all about the news, which calls for a tune from The Jam.
Let’s have a look at the lyrics. If you’d like to listen to it, you can do so here.
The Jam – News of the World
Pop! Power! (Echoes)
Read about the things that happen throughout the world
Don’t believe in everything you see or hear
The neighbours talk day in day out about the goings on
They tell us what they want – they don’t give an inch
Look at the pictures taken by the cameras they cannot lie
The truth is in what you see – not what you read
Little men tapping things out – points of view
Remember their views are not the gospel truth
Don’t believe it all
Find out for yourself
Check before you spread
News of the world
News of the world
News of the world (x2)
Each morning our key to the world comes through the door
More than often its just a comic, not much more
Don’t take it too serious – not many do
Read between the lines and you’ll find the truth
Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world (x2)
- The Jam were an English punk rock/post mod band from Woking in Surrey, southeast England, active from the late 70s until the early 80s.
- Other (better) tunes of theirs are That’s Entertainment and Going Underground.
- News of the World was released in 1978 and was written about the former British tabloid of the same name. Ironically, it is no longer in circulation since 2011, mostly due to the phone hacking scandal.
- This tune has been made famous in the UK in recent years, as the theme tune to the BBC comedy panel show Mock the Week.
- Some of you might know Paul Weller, who had a successful solo career during the 90s after the band broke up.
Why should you teach it?
It’s short, fast-paced and loud – much like the constant stream of news updates we get these days. Looking at the lyrics and the topic, it’s amazing how current it is still. There are plenty of opportunities to teach vocabulary, grammar and other skills for all levels.
What can you do with it?
For lower levels, there are many examples of verbs and nouns associated with the news and it might be worth teaching collocations like read about, believe in, a point of view/views or to find out something.
Higher levels can focus on collecting a few synonyms from it like throughout the world and decoding others like goings on, talk day in day out, teach them about moaning or discuss the image of journalists tapping the computer keyboard (or was it typewriter back then?) Highlight and talk about phrases like read between the lines and the camera never lies or see if they can understand the meaning behind check before you spread.
A quick history lesson about read all about it might be interesting for your students – Newspaper-sellers in the streets during the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s used to shout Extra! Extra! Read all about it! when an extra newspaper was printed telling the pubic about an important event which didn’t make the standard edition, such as the outbreak of war or the assassination of a public figure.
If you’re not sure which words to teach, check on English Vocabulary Profile which will give you the level of words based on the CEFR. If you have the time, you could get older students to find out for themselves and teach someone else in the class!
Imperatives galore here! You could also focus on the article the, higher levels could look at more than often vs. not much more, and see if they can spot the adverb being used incorrectly, its effectiveness and why the band chose to use serious instead of seriously.
You might want to point out that we normally say every-thing, not ever-ry-thing as is used in the tune. There are lots of words with th and v sounds, too. Always good to look at those and practise this tricky pronunciation!
- Other teachers have always told me not to reinvent the wheel, so I’m sharing this fantastic News Quiz 2017 from Leoxicon for intermediate and advanced classes. Don’t forget to comment and thank him for this amazing resource!
- Discussion. Use parts of the tune and turn them into questions – Do your students agree with the band’s point of view? Where do they get their news from? Do they follow it regularly? When do they read it? Do they talk to their friends or family about it? What will happen to newspapers now that many people read it on the internet? What’s better – newspapers or print? The list is endless!
- Debate the future of news and newspapers or fake news (intermediate +). Discuss as a class by brainstorming ideas, then split the class up and give groups some time to prepare the points they wish to bring up, feeding in debating, agreeing and disagreeing language as necessary. Or simple discuss it as a class without setting it up as such. I find that most of my classes are happy to sit and discuss as a whole group.
- Here’s a good multi-skills lesson for B2 students by Ted4ESL about Fake News. You could just take the fake news articles on the last page and see if students can spot the real article.
- Here’s a lesson I made for advanced classes based on one of my favourite podcasts right now – The Why Factor by BBC World Service. Why Do We Need the News? If you or your students are looking for authentic listening materials, I cannot recommend this podcast enough! Only 20 minutes long, which you can cut and use as you see fit, or maybe ask them to listen before coming to class to leave more time for discussion. It will leave you feeling knowledgable and inspired by all those questions you’ve never thought about!
- If you have the time and your class are up for it, set up a school newspaper in English (online or paper version).
- Create and conduct a survey asking people in the school or your local area about the news. It could be done in L1 where students then bring the results to the next class and have to tell you about their findings in English.
I wish you all a wonderful start to 2018!