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#127 - The Sounds Of Silence (high intermediate)

127 - Sounds of Silence


This lesson really will get your students thinking about "Silence".  It also has a focus on pronunciation and language awareness - awareness of the silent letters in English words.


1.  Write on the board -  Silence is ______________

Get students to brainstorm and finish this sentence in as many ways as possible. If they don't come up with "Silence is golden", mention it and ask their opinions about this idiom. Do they believe this? 


2. Ask students to Do Nothing For 2 Minutes.  Challenge them to listen for the sounds they hear now that the class is silent. After 2 minutes, get students to brainstorm these sounds. What did they hear?  What other things can be heard only when a person is silent? List them.   Watch the video Sounds of Silence.  What sounds did they see/hear on the video? [wind, rain, footsteps, the elevator, talking, electricity, humming, water running/dripping, snoring, breathing]



3. Play this quiz (or print it out) as a group. Practice pronouncing the silent letters.  Show this wordle presenting the most frequently used words in English which have "silent" letters.  Students write down the words and circle the silent letters. Go over them afterward and practice pronouncing them.

4 .  Finally,  listen to the classic Simon and Garfunkle song - The Sounds Of Silence.  Many versions online in addition to this one.   [ no text, original video, words only ]  Students fill in the lyric listening sheet and then check their answers.

Resources:  Song and Worksheet   |     Silent Letter Quiz     |    Silent Letter worksheet  |  Download music video

Comment by steve hellmann on January 31, 2012 at 9:00pm

Thank you David for this inspiring stuff. We as well as our students need constant reminders of how pleasurable it can be to listen to the silence rather than the noise of everyday life.

I once prepared a lesson based on "Silence" by Edgar Lee Masters. This can be seen at http://poemhunter.com/poem/silence-2/

Tasks I set included the following:

Add 3 suggestions to each column

Irritating sounds

-          the sound of someone nervously clicking a ball - point pen

Pleasant sounds

-          the phone ringing just when you think he or she would not call


Read the following extract from the poem and then add 10 lines of your own. Follow the same basic pattern - begin each line with the words There is the silence of …, or and….of … The lines do not need to rhyme

There is the silence of a great hatred,

And the silence of a great love,

And the silence of a deep peace of mind,

And the silence of an embittered friendship………


There is the silence of defeat.

There is the silence of those unjustly punished;

And the silence of the dying whose hand

Suddenly grips yours.

There is the silence between father and son,

When the father cannot explain his life,

Even though he be misunderstood for it.


There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.

There is the silence of those who have failed;

And the vast silence that covers

Broken nations and vanquished leaders.

Best wishes,

Steve Hellmann

Comment by RINALDO SANTOS GUERREIRO JUNIOR on March 1, 2012 at 1:44pm

Well guys this lesson was simply thrilling! As we would move on from one exercise to the other, the students would simply feel absolutely evolved by the melody and wording of the song.

Well I didn't use the song in the video at first. I had heard this song before, Brooke Fraser (Live - Video) Singing it. I find it is a lot better! Her voice is simply sweet and if you guys want to get the live version of the song and the one I used in class Then just go here. This is the one I used in class, of course only the mp3 that can be found in the her live album in  Auckland, More information about the song can be found here.

That's it folks! Hope you enjoy this lesson with your students as much as I did with mine!

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