Fairytale of New York (Teachers’ pdf. for adult classes)

New English word? Translate any word using double click.

This class is for adult groups with an advanced (B2+) level for Christmas. There’s some bad language in the song, so I wouldn’t use it for a teen class unless they’re quite mature.

The song itself is beautiful. The gapfill exercise shouldn’t pose much of a problem. The real exercise is for them to try to understand words from context.

So play the song and do the gapfill:

  1. Dew
  2. better time
  3. choir
  4. ringing out
  5. maggot
  6. could have been
  7. built

Then ask the class what they think the situation is between the man and woman (started out with a lot of dreams, now years later they are down on their luck and blaming each other, but still have those flashes of love and happiness).

Then comes the tough part – can they explain or provide more information about the words in bold? I imagine that some students would be able to answer NYPD and Broadway, but have some problems with the rest. Encourage them to guess. Explain that some of these words are not even known by English speakers (like me, for example) as they are Irish phrases and references, but that native speakers would be able to understand by the context.

In other words, the point of the exercise is not to learn these words specifically, but to try to develop an essential skill: understanding new vocabulary in context.

The pdf.s yours to download free at the bottom of the page. I’ve also included the YouTube links to the 3 songs below.

Drunk tank = Bar, pub
‘Won’t see another one’ = Expects to die that year.
Got on a lucky one – Came in eighteen to one = Won a bet (horses?). ’18 to 1′ are the odds.
Broadway = The part of New York with theatres and musicals. The girl wanted to be an actress or singer.
Hollered = Shouted, yelled
NYPD = New York Police Department, traditionally with a very Irish influence.

You continue this exercise with the two Irish folk tunes mentioned in the song.

Rare Old Mountain Dew:
Gangers = Foremen, heads of a labour gang.
Give them the slip = Escape from them
Sip = When you drink just a little portion of liquid
Still = Here, whiskey destillery (Irish English?)
Writ = Written
Poitin = Homemade whiskey (Irish English)
Betwixt = Between
Yer = your

Galway Bay:
Ripple = Soft movement on the surface of water
Gossoons = Kids (Irish English)
Praties = Potatoes (Irish English)

Download pdf. here!