How to listen to this song: “I Believe in You” by Don Williams

How to listen to this song: “I believe” by Don Williams

If the above link doesn’t work, you can also listen here, here, or here.

First Listening Questions

What is this song about?

Second Listening Questions

What does “I believe in you” mean?

What else does Don Williams believe in?

Now read the lyrics

Don Williams “I Believe”

I don’t believe in superstars,
organic food and foreign cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
the certainty of growing old,
that right is right and left is wrong,
that north and south can’t get along,
that east is east and west is west,
and being first is always best.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits,
for only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He’s down below, He’s up above.
He’s watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn’t care.
And I’m an ordinary man.
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
what’s going on with you and me,
is a good thing.
It’s true, I believe in you.

I don’t believe virginity
is as common as it used to be,
in working days and sleeping nights,
that black is black and white is white,
that Superman and Robin Hood
are still alive in Hollywood,
that gasoline’s in short supply,
the rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Third Listening Questions

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true.

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3).

(1)

(2)

(3)

What is organic food?

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean?

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician?

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a) Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b) Only people that go to church go to heaven

c) Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood?

What does “folks” mean?

a) People

b) Dogs

c) Cars

Third Listening Answers

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true.

He doesn’t believe that we will certainly get old, that right is right, that left is wrong, that east is east and west is west and being first is always best, that heaven waits for only those who congregate, that virginity is as common as it used to be, that Superman and Robin Hood are still alive in Hollywood, or that gasoline’s in short supply.

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3).

Answers may be different, but for example.

(1) Mom and Dad

(2) Love

(3) Children

What is organic food? Food without chemicals added to it.

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean? It means that we might die before we are old. (For example, maybe a bus will hit us.)

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician? George Bush is “right”. Barack Obama is “left”.

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a) Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b) Only people that go to church go to heaven

c) Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood? They are imaginary heroes.

What does “folks” mean?

a) People

b) Dogs

c) Cars

Limericks Lesson Plan

This is part of a series of lesson plans on word stress, timing, and intonation. Click here to read a short introduction.

You might Read this Teaching Strategy on using limericks in the classroom before doing this lesson plan. You’ll find some limericks you might use at the beginning of the lesson.

Name: Limericks

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: You’ll need to get a few limericks beforehand. (Here’s some.)

Materials: Some limericks

Primary Objective: Improve timing and word stress skills

Other Benefits: Practice counting syllables

Plan:

Present Some Limericks (15 minutes): Present three short limericks of the AABBA structure. Write them on the board one at a time. Discuss what they mean. Mention the number of syllables in each line of the poem and that they rhyme.

Writing Pomes as a Class (15 minutes): Now you’re going to write some new poems as a class. First, ask the class for a short sentence. Write it on the board. On a separate piece of the board, write the last word. Then ask the students for a bunch of words that rhyme with it. Write those on the board too. Now, ask the students for another short sentence that ends in one of those words. (Don’t worry about the syllable count just yet.)

You should end up with something like this…

Short sentence: I went to the store to buy a red dress.

Dress: Mess, Confess, Less, Guess, etc.

Second Short sentence: When I eat I make a mess.

Repeat the process to get the third and fourth lines of your poem

Now get one more sentence that rhymes with the first line.

Now, you should have something like this:

I went to the store to buy a red dress.

When I eat I make a mess

I hate using a spoon.

I hope you come soon.

When I buy things I want to pay less

It’s not a great poem, but it doesn’t matter. You’re just working on the form.

You’re almost done. Next, count the syllables in each line with your class. Change the sentences as needed to make the lines that rhyme have the same number of syllables. You can easily change the syllable counts in sentences by adding adjectives and adverbs. (e.g. I bought a book à I really bought a green book.)

Now you should have something like this:

I went to the store to buy a dress. 9

When I eat I really make a mess. 9

I hate using a spoon. 6

I hope you come home soon. 6

When I buy things I want to pay less. 9

Congratulations! You and your class have written a limerick. Now, write two more.

Write Poems in Groups (30 minutes): Finally, put the students into groups and have them write a few poems of their own.

Extension: Ask the students to draw a picture related to one of their poems and then present it to the class.

Ideas for Homework: Send the students on a hunt for limericks on the internet. At the beginning of the next class they can share them in groups.

Limericks

Limericks

Using Limericks to help students improve intonation, timing, and word stress.

A limerick is a humorous, five line poem where the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme. The third and fourth lines rhyme too (i.e. AABBA rhyming). Often, the lines that rhyme also have the same number of syllables.

After the bear caught the fish 7

A genie gave him a wish 7

The bear didn’t know what to say 8

So, he sent the genie away 8

“I already have the fish!” 7

Note: This site is helpful learning how to count syllables.

Limericks (and other poems) can be great for helping students improve speaking skills. They give English a little bit more structure and repetition makes it easier to feel intonation, timing, and word stress patterns.

When students write enough of their own poems, they’ll begin to instinctively write lines with the same number of syllables. This is when you know they’re really getting English patterns down.

Moreover, if students are paying attention to the syllable counts, they’ll begin to see how we can play with English to create new effects. Exceptions to rules drive students crazy, but not native speakers. We use and create exceptions to make English work for us. To wit: subjects don’t have to come at the beginning and words like “everyone” can be pronounced with three or four syllables.

The only problem is that limericks often have so much new vocabulary and strange grammar that teaching them can be tricky. So, with apologies to actual poets, we wrote four limericks that you might use in the classroom. Can you add anymore? Post in the comments!

There once was a sad man with a beer 9

From the side of his face fell a tear 9

Yes he was so sad, 5

His heart felt so bad, 5

When he saw his face in the mirror! 9

The rain fell upon the once dry ground 9

And sent everyone running around 9

They didn’t want to be wet 7

So they were filled with regret 7

For warm summer sunshine they moaned 9

Tim rode his blue bike to school 7

Brad took his time like a fool 7

Judy wandered alone 6

Bobby talked on the phone 6

Tim was all alone at school 7

Introduction to Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation (Prosody) Lesson Plans

Prosody (Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation) Lesson Plans

In recent years, language teachers have generally agreed that teaching word stress, timing, and intonation are very important. Not every class, nor every student, needs prosody work; but many do.

Fine and dandy, but how to teach it exactly? This is the introduction to a series of lesson plans on prosody. The lessons will appear in the coming weeks.

Just a few notes:

First, in the introduction to Sue F. Miller’s wonderful book “Targeting Pronunciation: Communicating Clearly in English”, she says that the most important thing in any lesson on prosody is listening and repeating. Word to that and you’ll see it a lot here.

Also, there needs to be something to practice. Material is provided here around various themes. You can easily switch it up though. Using sentences and vocabulary from your units is a great idea.

Click here to see all the lesson plans.

Here are some other helpful posts on prosody.

How to listen to this poem: Kite by Rives

How to listen to this poem: Kite by Rives

A high-level listening exercise. If you like Rives you can learn more about him at his website: shopliftwindchimes.com

Rarely. Sometimes. All the time.

In English classes, we rarely talk about new relationships or how we feel after we sleep with someone for the first time. But, we do sometimes talk about these things with our friends. And we think about them all the time.

Rives’ poem “Kite” is about waking up and finding a note from his new lover. She says “Good morning, Sparkle Boy! I’ll be back around noon. You—make yourself at home.” He does just that.

Enjoy listening to this funny and beautiful poem about new love. Part One has comprehension questions to help you understand the poem. Part Two gives you an exercise to help you improve your intonation, word stress, and timing skills. Finally, in Part Three there are some questions to discuss with a partner (or contemplate on your own).

Part 1: Understand the Poem

Listen to Rives’ poem here or here. Listen three times. Then listen and read it. (The transcript is at the end of this post.)

Try to answer these questions by yourself. If you have trouble, the answers are below.

Comprehension Questions

Why is the poem titled “Kite”?

Why does she call him “Sparkle Boy”? Is it a good thing?

What does it mean to “make yourself at home”? When do people use this expression?

What did the girl’s slippers look like?

What’s the difference between “shuffle” and “walk”?

When do people use the word “frankly”?

Is his tub clean or dirty? What does skanky mean?

What does “to get caught up in the romance of the suds” mean?

Why is it funny when he adds “muthafucka” (motherfucker) at the end of the translation of the Latin poetry?

What is his mood while he’s taking the bath?

He says “maybe I played with myself, but it’s not what you’re thinking.” What does he assume the audience is thinking?

What does “to get laid” mean?

Then he says he did play with himself. What did he do? What did he think of while he did it?

What’s TIVO?

What are antics?

What is the volume of the Prince CDs while he plays them? How do you know?

What is he thinking and feeling when he looks in the mirror?

What does he make for the girl?

What does it mean “I tagged that kite with my words”?

What does he want her to know?

What does “to nail a milestone” mean?

Part 2: Intonation, Word Stress, and Timing

Listen to the poem until the 1:15 mark (when his hand talks to him). Then read the poem out loud to that same point. Repeat this three times.

Then, try to say the words while you listen to Rives. Say the words at exactly the same time, and in exactly the same way, as Rives.

Repeat the process for 1:15-2:10 and 2:10-2:55.

Part 3: Discussion Questions

Do you like bubble baths?

He does many things while he’s alone in her apartment. What are all the ways that he makes himself at home?

What things would you do if this happened to you?

How have you felt just after you started dating someone (after you knew that he/she liked you too)?

After reading the poem on the kite, what kind of person do you think Rives is?

What does he want her to know about him?

How would you react if you were the girl and saw the kite when you came home?

Throughout the poem, Rives is very honest about things that we all do but never talk about. What are some examples? How does this honesty make the poem better?

The audience laughs a lot during the poem. Did you laugh? When? Why?

Kite by Rives

The morning after the first night we made love,
the
note on your pillow said:
“Good morning, Sparkle Boy!
I’ll be back around noon.
You–make yourself at home.”
And so I did.

Maybe.

I’m saying maybe I put on your slippers,
which were as comfortable as bunnies
because they were bunnies,
and then shuffled across my new favorite
hardwood floor to the bathroom
where maybe I took a bubble bath,
which is not something I can do at my place
because, frankly, my tub is way too skanky
to ever sit my bare ass down in.
And then maybe I got so caught up in the romance of the suds
I started quoting old Latin poetry from my college days
like: “fulsere quondam tibi candidi diez…”
You know, uh: “Verily the gods do favor me this morning…muthafucka!”

And then maybe I…played with myself.
But it’s not what you’re thinking–
I’m saying possibly I just sorta
stuck my hand up from the water, for some reason, and started going, like, uh, you know like, um, uh:

HAND: “Somebody got laid last night!
Ha-ha-haaaa!
You! You! You!

Or, you know, whatever.

And then maybe I…played with myself,
and it’s exactly what you’re thinking.
But if I did, it was only to put
the mental motion picture of our naked night together
on replay and replay and replay
so touching myself was just like…
Tivo in a way.

And, and, and yes, you know, I was still wet when I borrowed your bathrobe.
And yes, I scared the birds away from your balcony
with my antics, dancing full-blast
to your old Prince CD’s–
but please let’s keep that my little secret,
because nothing is as private as a solitary dance
unless–maybe–it’s standing in front of a full-length mirror
in a borrowed pair of bunny slippers,
slipping off a bathrobe and then wishing to a lightbulb
that my name, or my game, or my whatever were bigger,
wondering: “What kind of woman wants this skinny kid for a warrior?”

And so I made for you a kite, enormous,
out of coat hangers, brown paper bags
and the masking tape from that drawer in your kitchen,
and I hung it in the hallway
where you couldn’t hardly miss it,
and I tagged that kite with my words,
I wrote:

Just so you know–

My weird mind wanders and my brave heart breaks.
I’ve nailed some milestones, but I make mistakes,
Cuz I got more faults than a map of California earthquakes.

I am taking a nap beneath your covers.
Wake me if you like me.
Wake me if you want me.
Wake me if you need another poem.

Your once and future lover
has made himself at home.

Suggested Answers to Part One

Why is the poem titled “Kite”? Because at the end he makes a kite for her that expresses how he’s feeling.

Why does she call him “Sparkle Boy”? Is it a good thing? “To sparkle” means to shine like light on a diamond, so it’s a very good thing. She probably means that he is an energetic and fun guy.

What does it mean to “make yourself at home”? When do people use this expression? This expression means to act in the same ways that you act at home. For example, if you’re hungry and at a guest’s house, you probably wouldn’t just take food from the cupboard without asking. But, if they tell you to make yourself at home, then you can. People use this expression when they want their guests to feel very comfortable.

What do the girl’s slippers look like? They look like bunnies/rabbits.

What’s the difference between “shuffle” and “walk”? To shuffle means to, sort of, slide your feet in short movements over the floor. Here, he means that he is moving playfully.

When do people use the word “frankly”? Before they want to say something that is uncomfortable to say, but very honest.

Is his bathtub clean or dirty? What does skanky mean? His tub is dirty. “Skanky” means very dirty.

What does “to get caught up in the romance of the suds” mean? He means that he was feeling very romantic because of the soapy, bubbly water.

Why is it funny when he adds “muthafucka” (motherfucker) at the end of the translation of the Latin poetry? Because the Latin is so serious and very formal, the contrast of using a very informal swear word is funny.

What is his mood while he’s taking the bath? He’s very happy.

He says “maybe I played with myself, but it’s not what you’re thinking.” What does he assume the audience is thinking? “To play with yourself” means to masturbate.

What does “to get laid” mean? It means for someone to have sex with you.

Then he says he did play with himself. What did he do? What did he think of while he did it? He masturbated. He imagined the previous night with his new girlfriend.

What’s TIVO? TIVO is a device that lets you record and watch TV shows.

What are antics? Funny or silly (often annoying) actions.

What is the volume of the Prince CDs while he plays them? How do you know? It’s very loud. “Full blast” means maximum volume.

What is he thinking and feeling when he looks in the mirror? He’s wondering if he is good enough for her, if there are enough good things about him so that she’ll really want to be with him. Wishing that his “name” were bigger, means he wants to be more famous. Wishing that his “game” were bigger, means that he wants his career or skills to be bigger. Wishing that his “whatever” were bigger is a reference to his penis.

What does he make for the girl? He makes her a kite.

What does it mean “I tagged that kite with my words”? It means that he wrote words on it.

What does “to nail a milestone” mean? It means to have a big accomplishment.

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