Polina Polina

Tom's Diner (a Song Lesson)
A2 level


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Main Aims

  • To provide gist listening practice using a text about the song "Tom's Diner" in the context of eating out and observing people

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide clarification of some verbs from the song by working out the meaning from the context
  • To provide product writing of a continuation to the song by writing a short verse.


Warmer/Lead-in (2-4 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

I put theree pictures with a church, a hospital and a restaurant on the board to ease the guessing. Elicitation question: What is a diner? At the same time, it is a pre-teaching of the key word ‘diner’ that is crucial for understanding of the text. I distribute HO1 and give the second elicitation question: What people can do in a diner? And I give them some variants, such as: a) have lunch b) meet friends c) read newspapers d) take a shower e) sleep f) dance. Check in pairs, class feedback.

Pre-Listening (2-3 minutes) • To prepare students for the text and make it accessible

I distribute HO2 and ask Ss to match words with pictures: counter, reflection, skirt, stockings, bells, train - checking their vocabulary knowledge to ease the listening.

While-Reading/Listening #1 (4-5 minutes) • To provide students with a gist listening tasks

The gist listening questions are: - Where does the song take place? (In a diner.) - What does the singer do? (She is sitting and watching people around her.) - What is the weather like? (It’s raining.) The questions are put in the order from the easiest to a more challenging one, so that weaker students can answer at least one question, and stronger Ss can answer all three. I play the song a capella, check in pairs, class feedback.

Grammar focus (7-8 minutes) • To provide the Ss with some practice in Present Continuous in the text of the song

The Ss receive a text of the song (HO3) with gaps and separate group of verbs in infinitives. Before they start to fill in the gaps, I ask them to go through the text and tell me, which tense the verbs should be put in (Pres Cont). Then they fill the gaps and change the verb form. Check in pairs, listen to the song once again (different version) to check, short class feedback.

Reading for detail (5-6 minutes) • To provide students with more challenging detailed reading task

The second receptive activity is a set of true/false statements to let the students examine the text in more detail (HO4), check in pairs and class feedback. 1) The singer is happy with her coffee. True/False (because the waiter poured it only halfway, so she wanted to argue with him.) 2) The man behind the counter is not happy to see the woman who came in. True/False 3) The man behind the counter and the woman who came in knew each other before. True/False (because he greets her and “they are kissing their hellos”) 4) The singer knows the actor who died. True/False (“It was no one I had heard of”) 5) The singer is serious about horoscopes and read them carefully. True/False 6) The woman outside is looking inside because she is trying to see someone there. True/False 7) The woman outside doesn’t look good and neat because of the rain. True/False 8) It’s been raining the whole morning. True/False 9) The singer goes to the station after finishing her coffee. True/False (‘It's time to catch the train’).

Vocabulary focus (4-5 minutes) • To provide some training in working out the meaning from the context

Ss look at the words in italics in the text. I distribute HO5 with short definitions of these verbs and ask Ss to match verbs with their meanings using the text of the song to help them. Elicitation of other possible contexts (What else can you pour? When do people argue? When was the last time you were pretending?) Check in pairs and class feedback.

Post-Reading/Listening (10-12 minutes) • To provide with an opportunity to respond to the text and expand on what they've learned

The Ss are given a free production task to compose the sequel of the story in writing. The story ends with the line “I finish up my coffee, It's time to catch the train”. What happens next? Will she catch the train? Can she continue observing the passengers on the train or the people at the station? The students are asked to write at least one verse (which can be without rhyming, just a free text of one to three sentences) in pairs or groups of three and read it aloud, class feedback and peer commenting follow.

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