Songs In the Key Of ELT – Wish I Was Skinny

An occasional series of lesson ideas using songs you’re not likely to hear in a coursebook…

 

Artist: The Boo Radleys
Song: Wish I Was Skinny

Written by: Carr, Martin, James

Lyrics:

Wishing I was skinny
Wishing that the whole world knew my name
Wishing I was thrilling, that I would never be to blame
Wishing I was kissing a girl with lips smooth as pearl
Wishing I was pretty
Wish that I could twist the world ’round my finger
Wishing I had money, wishing for the time to spend it all
Wishing I was pretty
Wish that I could twist the world ’round my finger
But I would always love you

I guess that would never change

Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Objective: Practicing wishes and regrets

1) Before you play the song, ask the students to get the gist of it on the first listen. What’s it about? Can you hear any words or phrases?

2) See how much they are able to get from the song. Obviously what they get depends on their listening ability, and even at an advanced level I wouldn’t expect them to get much more than a fragment of the idea.

3) Share some of the key vocabulary from the song. In my class I wrote it on the board, but you could use this Wordle if you have the means.


Play the song again and ask the students to note down as many of the singers wishes as they can, using the vocabulary to help them.

4) Check to see how they did in understanding what he was wishing for. This is their chance to really comprehend the song, so use the time to discuss what the wishing phrases mean:
Wishing I was skinny – I wish I was slim (and therefore attractive)
Wishing that the whole world knew my name – I wish I was famous
Wishing I was thrilling – I wish I was exciting
That I would never be to blame – I wish I could do anything I wanted, without consequences
Wishing I was kissing a girl with lips smooth as pearl – I wish I could could kiss a really pretty girl with really smooth lips
Wishing I was pretty – I wish I was attractive (unusual for a man to describe himself as “pretty”)
Wish that I could twist the world ’round my finger – I wish I could make everyone do whatever I want

Wishing I had money, wishing for the time to spend it all – I wish I had lots of time to spend lots of money (suggests he doesn’t want to work)

5) Now they know what the song is about, ask them to write down the singers wishes in a variety of ways. My students were revising ‘wishes and regrets’, so they wrote things like:

“He wishes he was better looking.”

“He regrets eating so many donuts.”

“He thinks “If only I could meet a pretty girl”.”

6) Because this was a revision activity, I stopped there, but you could then go on to ask your students to write their own wishes and regrets at this point.

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