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Dear Mama

Level: Intermediate

Timing: 2 hours

Mats: Cassette player. Copy of Tupac Shakur song "Dear Mama". Copy of full lyrics. Gap fill handouts.

Aim: To give Ss the opportunity to work with American hip-hop slang, the linguistic part of a music genre which many of them (teenagers and young adults at least) will be fans of, thereby increasing motivation to work in/with English.

Notes: This lesson came about as a result of a request by a class of Ss to use a Tupac song in class. It has proved very popular with the appropriate age group. If you are not familiar with hip-hop slang go to  where you will find a site devoted to the genre. 

This song contains blunt references to drug dealing and drug use. It is my belief that these are subjects that we should NOT be shying away from in the classroom. They are emotive, and consequently of interest. In my experience teenage Ss are perfectly able to make decisions concerning their views on this subject (and indeed on any other) and do not need some kind of ridiculous, fawning 'protection'.

Stage One:

T: Elicit everything the Ss know about hip-hop culture/gangster rap and Tupac Shakur and put it on the WB as a mind-map.

Stage Two:

T: Hand out lyrics with gap fills. Put Ss in pairs.

Ss: In pairs they attempt to fill in the gaps using their knowledge of English and the information already on the WB. You may need to draw their attention to the constant use of rhyming in hip-hop. 

Stage Three:

T: Play song.

Ss: Listen to song and fill gaps in.

T: Repeat if necessary.

T & Ss: Feedback.

Stage Four - Group Work

Ss: Discuss what the song is about and how it makes them feel.

What do they think their lives would be like if theyīd been born in similar circumstances? Are there any correlations between Tupacīs life as described in the song and their own? (Hopefully they should at least all be able to relate to Tupacīs love and appreciation expressed for his 'mama'.)

Is Tupacīs admittance that he sold drugs acceptable to you or not? Why?

Stage Five - Group or Pair Work

Ss: Write a screenplay for the song to be acted out as a mini-drama. Use pictures to help.

TPoint out that movie makers use story boards - a sequence of pictures - to build up a film shot by shot.

Remind Ss that they do NOT have to include every detail, just the main points.


So what did you think? How did it go? Let me & others know at the Efl Alt Message Board!


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