The language of love

14-Feb-2013

Today is a day couples look forward to (arguable from a man’s point of view) and a day singletons dread. A day for two people to really show their love for each other. A day single people make sure to avoid restaurants and cocktail bars. It’s Valentine’s Day! I hope this blog post isn’t the first you’ve thought about it otherwise you might have a pretty peeved girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband right now.

Whatever your thoughts about this centuries-old tradition, it can be difficult to escape with greetings cards everywhere and gift ideas emblazoned on billboards and in television adverts, so maybe we should just embrace it – even in the classroom.

There are plenty of interesting facts and figures and no shortage of opinions about love and Valentine’s Day out there. Take traditions around the world for example. Apparently 31% of Germans confess to forgetting Valentine’s Day . In the USA, men spend almost twice as much on Valentines gifts than women. (Not that that necessarily means they spend it on something their partner will like.) In Japan, it’s tradition for ladies to give their beau a chocolate. What do your students do? What would they like to receive? Do they give lavish gifts, or rather something more modest?

Being able to express yourself properly to a loved one – or a prospective one – is important and is something students are often keen to learn, especially if they’re teenagers about to embark on their first trip abroad… Maybe it’s important for them to know that in English, “I love you” should be used far less readily and far more sparingly than in other languages if your aim isn’t to scare off the local barmaid. Misuse of these “three most dangerous words in the English language” could lead to some pretty unwanted consequences. Why not try out the Love and Marriage speaking activity on onestopenglish, a lesson plan contributed by one particularly loved-up teacher featuring vocabulary flashcards to talk about fancying someone, having a snog and settling down (maybe best left for the adults). Lord Jeffrey, in this episode of A Ghost’s Guide to London, introduces us to even more useful – and perhaps more chivalrous – phrases for the smitten in his story and worksheet about falling head over heels in love with one of Chelsea’s Flying Squad girls.

You’ll find plenty of other romantic English-related gifts by clicking on the Love and Relationships resources link on the onestopenglish home page, including a speaking activity using a board game, vocabulary practice, a brilliant instalment of the soap opera The Road Less Travelled and a webquest to get students exploring and understanding research in English on the internet. Hopefully this will be enough to get your students to be exclaiming “I love you” to the English language…and actually meaning it.

Peter

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