By Joanna Abeli
Edited by Ivonne Diaz
3rd year Amori City ALT Joanna Abeli shared with GMA a lesson that blew some minds.
Here’s the game plan;
Grade Level: 1st or 2nd year JHS
Target Skills: Listening and speaking
Materials: Prints of the beginning of “The Fox” lyrics and music video for “The Fox” by Ylvis.
*This could easily be expanded into a full lesson focused on learning different animal names and sounds, but I used it as a 15 minute “reward.”
1. Review animal names and teach each other animal sounds in English.
Point out differences. Students got a kick out of the fact that in Japanese mice say “chu-chu” but in English “choo-choo” is the sound train whistles make.
2. Ask them what sound a fox makes. Most of the students will say, “konkon.”
Blow their little minds by telling them the fox does not have a call in English. OH MY GOD!
3. Pass out the lyrics to “The Fox” by Ylvis, but ONLY up to the first time they sing “WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?” Not only would the whole lyrics spoil the surprise, after that, the vocabulary in the song becomes much more complex and would take a very long time to confirm the meaning. Up to that point, the vocabulary and grammar are all well within the grasp of students at the end of their first year, and they feel awesome for understanding it.
4. Write the lyrics on the board, read through them together, and go over these points:
|Dog goes woof, cat goes meow
Bird goes tweet,and mouse goes squeak
Cow goes moo, frog goes croak, and the elephant goes toot
|goes = says“goes” and “went” are common slang for “said” in American English|
|Ducks say quack and fish go blub and the seal goes OW OW OW||
|But there’s one sound that no one knows
WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?
|This is the only section of the lyrics I have the students translate into Japanese as a class because it explains what the song is about.|
5. Tell them that the singers are two guys who REALLY want to know what the fox says and are going to give their guesses. Ask students to make their own predictions too. My favorite so far is “hobo-hobo.”
6. PLAY THE VIDEO. Enjoy the reactions. My students LOVE the grandpa.
7. Tell them the story of “The Fox.”
Ylvis are two brother comedians who wrote the song as a promotion for their variety show, and it was meant to be a horrible flop as a joke. A famous production company owed them a favor, so the idea was that they would go to their fans and say “We had a chance to make a video with this super famous production company, and we blew it! This stupid song was all we could manage!” But the song actually became a huge hit. You can even sing it at karaoke in Japan! Ask the students where they think Ylvis is from. They’re very surprised to learn that the brothers are from Norway because they don’t think of it as a country with English speakers.
8. PLAY THE VIDEO AGAIN
9. *optional and slightly dangerous*
If you have an iPhone, you can ask Siri “What does the fox say?” and it will respond in its flat, lifeless computer voice, “frakakakakakakakakow” or “ringdingdingdingding.” The safest option is for you to ask Siri in front of the students and let them hear the response. If you want to let them try, it’s actually really good pronunciation practice. (The biggest points are linking the T in “what” to the D in “does,” the X in “fox” to the S in “say,” and making sure the O in “fox” sounds like “ah.” ). The problem with letting your students try is that sometimes Siri cannot understand “fox,” it thinks the students are swearing, and tells them to watch their language. ^^;;
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