I personally really like this song but it’s also ideal for classroom use because:
- the overall meaning of the song is clear and raises interesting questions about modern life which can be discussed in class before or after listening.
- the vocabulary and grammar used is accessible to students from B1 level up.
- the vocals are relatively clear and prominent in the mix.
It’s a perfect way to present/review the meaning and use of ‘used to’ (and tenses generally since it uses a range of past and present tenses as well as ‘going to’) as it contrasts modern lifestyles with those of the past. It could fit in with a broader theme of technology or modern lifestyles, especially in academic English, IELTS or EAP classes.
The main drawback for me is that, at 5 minutes, it’s a bit long – I prefer to use songs in class that are 2-3 minutes.
A possible lesson plan could be something like this:
- Ss discuss: Have you written a letter by hand? If so, when was the last time? If not, why not?
- Put the first five lines of the song on the screen. Tell Ss that it’s the beginning of a song, ask them if they know what song it is. Ask Ss to discuss the meaning of the lines.
- Give Ss a copy of the lyrics as a gap fill exercise (try removing more than just isolated words – remove whole lines, especially when connected speech may make it difficult for students to recognise the individual words).
- Play song twice while Ss fill in gaps.
- Ask Ss to compare answers in pairs/groups.
- Play song again, stopping after each gap to check. Play individual lines again if Ss are having trouble with them.
- Ask Ss to discuss the overall meaning of the song and express their feelings/reactions to it.
- Focus on parts of the song where the meaning may be slightly less obvious or which contain interesting/relevant linguistic features:
- “But by the time we met the times had already changed” – Why is Past Perfect used?
- “So when the lights cut out I was left standing in the wilderness downtown” – What does this mean?
- “Now our lives are changing fast. Hope that something pure can last” – What does this mean?
- “But what’s stranger still is how something so small can keep you alive” – What does this mean?
- “Like a patient on a table, I want to walk again, gonna move through the pain” – What does this mean?
- Play song again, get Ss to sing along.