Burns Night Special – The Proclaimers -I’m Gonna Be (500 Hundred Miles)

Many people around the world will be celebrating the life of the Scottish poet Robert Burns tonight and throughout January, so here are some lesson ideas for how to use this well-loved Scottish tune and teach your students about bonnie Scotland!

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers (video here)

When I wake up, well, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you
When I go out, yeah, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
If I get drunk, well, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver, hey, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you

Chorus: 

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

When I’m working, yes, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s working hard for you
And when the money comes in for the work I do
I’ll pass almost every penny on to you
When I come home (When I come home), oh, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow old, well, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you

(Repeat Chorus)

Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

When I’m lonely, well, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s lonely without you
And when I’m dreaming, well, I know I’m gonna dream
I’m gonna dream about the time when I’m with you
When I go out (When I go out), well, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
And when I come home (When I come home), yes, I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home with you
I’m gonna be the man who’s coming home with you

(Repeat Chorus)

Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

(Repeat Chorus)

Background

  • Still favourite among many Scots and Americans, The Proclaimers – Fife-born identical twins Craig and Charlie Reid – released this in 1988 and it was hugely successful in many countries around the world.
  • The duo are known for singing in their Scottish accent.
  • They still tour regularly around the world!
  • The song was mainly written by Craig Reid in mid-1987 while waiting to travel to a Proclaimers concert in Aberdeen. Reid recalled, “I can remember sitting at the piano and the chords just came to me. I reckon I wrote the whole thing in 45 minutes. I knew that it was a good song, maybe even a single, but I had no idea how popular it would become.”[4]
  • Reid has said that the band’s earnings from the song are about five times the rest of their catalogue combined.[2]
  • Other big hits are Letter from America, I’m on My Way (as heard in the film Shrek) and Sunshine on Leith (an anthem of Edinburgh’s Hibernian FC!)

Why should you teach it?

Another catchy and energetic number which can be used with all levels and will hopefully have your students singing along! I think it’s a great mood-lifter for tired classes, or if you want to change the pace a bit. It’s also useful to let your class hear how some Scottish people speak, even in songs sometimes! Teenagers might have heard this before, as it was apparently in an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

What can you do with it?

Grammar – Teaching tenses: 1st and 3rd person present simple and present continuous usage, compare futures with going to and will, the “When” conjunction to express a feeling of determination vs. If 1st conditional clause, definite article “the” in “the man”, the linking word “who” irregular past tense irregular verb drunk, preposition next to, to vs. for vs. with you, at, use of more in 500 more, the common discourse marker well.

Pronunciation – Some languages like French don’t open the mouth like we tend to do in English, so allow students some practice with this by breaking down parts of the song and then having them sing the whole thing! Better still, why not split the class in two or in pairs and have them chant the Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da) part in some kind of singing battle, or split up the chorus so that pairs or groups have to sing every other word like the singers! Other things to point out: Scottish accents vs. their pronunciation of words. You could give out the text first, students to read it to themselves, then read the text out loud before listening. After listening, compare their version with the original to highlight the many differences there may (or may not) be!

Vocabulary – Phrasal verbs: wake up, go out, money comes in, pass something on (intermediate +) Collocations: get drunk, work hard, come home to you vs. come back home with you, with you vs. without you, grow old, adjective lonely, dream about something, go along with (accompany) someone, miles vs. kilometres. (all levels as appropriate) Havering doesn’t need to be taught, but if you or your students are interested, it is Scottish slang to talk rubbish or gibberish. Gonna is already quite well-known in music and speech already, but this is a good opportunity to discuss its effect in this particular tune and why it is used or you could teach them when it is ok to use it. If you’d like to explain the word Proclaimer to more advanced learners, you could listen to some other songs by the same band and hold a discussion as to why they chose that song.

What else?

With the song:

  • A fabulous vocabulary activity I learnt from Angela Lloyd at Cornelsen during her workshop at the ETAS Conference last weekend: Write some key words on cards and, in pairs, students try to grab the word when they hear it.
  • An energetic alternative to the above from a former colleague – Students stand up when they hear the words. Or if you have young learners and the space to do it, print out some of the words, stick them up around the room or outdoors and have students run to them.
  • Students practise the first conditional and mixed tense usage by writing their own sentences.
  • Students write another verse to the song using the same grammar structures as a model.
  • Students imagine that they are the woman The Proclaimers are singing about. They then have to write a reply to the song by email, instant message, letter or in pairs students could create conversations based on the lyrics and perform as a spoken role play.
  • I recently attended a webinar with Shaun Wilden about using Emojis to teach English and I was really inspired, so how about having students re-write the text only using Emojis? This could also be done with the new verses they have written.
  • Create sentences using when and going to to talk about future plans.
  • Students create a new video for the tune either by acting out the lyrics themselves, making a moving image or cartoon to be shown in the next lesson.
  • Similarly, arty students could draw a storyboard.
  • If someone has a guitar with them, they could play it while you all sing the song together 🙂

About Robert Burns and Burns Night:

  • Read and translate some of his poetry.
  • Learn more about him while listening to another Scottish accent with this short video.
  • Or listen to some of his most famous poems then read the words – To a Mouse
  • A lovely version of his poem Auld Lang Syne with English translation. Students might recognise this as it is often sung around the world to ring in the New Year.

Scotland lesson ideas:

  • Things you didn’t know about Scotland fact sheet and a crossword. You could adapt the wording  for lower levels or divide up the pictures and the text to make a matching activity, practise pronunciation by having students read out parts of it, cut this up and students have to learn a part of it then teach each other.
  • A quiz I’ve named So Whit De Ye Ken Aboot Bonnie Scotland? which is Scots English for: So What Do You Know About Beautiful Scotland?
  • Some more listening practise using the Glaswegian comedians Billy Connolly Kevin Bridges
  • A colleague of mine has some coasters with Scots English slang words on them and plays Call My Bluff with her Upper-Intermediate/Advanced classes. Divide up this list of Scottish slang, give out a word or phrase to pairs or groups and they have to come up with 2 other made up definitions, then play as a class to see who gets the most correct ones. See this link for more information about Call My Bluff.

 

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading and Happy Burns Night to all my Scottish friends and fans!

2 thoughts on “Burns Night Special – The Proclaimers -I’m Gonna Be (500 Hundred Miles)

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