Find a song in another language which has an English version. Here is an idea for ‘Il faut savoir’ by Charles Aznavour. The song may be more suitable for adults but the activity can be applied to other songs as well.


Play the song

Ask students to try to guess what the song can be about

Give them some hints

Tell them they are going to write a poem while listening to the song. ( I know it works because when I was a teenager I wrote lots of poems while listening to songs in Italian)

If thye find writing poems difficult, you can give them an option and ask them to write a paragraph describing the song.

Play the song again.

Play the English version of the song and ask them to catch what advise is given by the singer.

Handout the lyrics in English.(tell them that they are not translations)

Ask them to compare their lyrics with the English version.

Ask them to sing the song with their lyrics. (volunteers, only)


You’ve got to learn

You’ve got to learn to show a happy face
Although you’re full of misery
You mustn’t show a trace of sadness
Never look for sympathy

You’ve got to learn although it’s very hard
The way of pocketing your pride
Sometimes face humiliation
While you were burning up inside
Facing reality is often hard to do
When it seems happiness is gone

You’ve got to learn to hide your tears
And tell your heart life must go on

You’ve got to learn to leave the table
When love’s no longer being served
To show everybody that you’re able
To leave without saying a word

You’ve got to learn to hide your sorrow
And go on living as before
What good is thinking of tomorrow
Who knows what it may have in store

You’ve got to learn to be much stronger
At times your head must rule your heart

You’ve got to learn from hard experience
And listen to advice
And sometimes pay the price
And learn to live with a broken heart 

P.S: the idea of a song in another language was from a workshop of Ken Wilson I attended last year.

15 thoughts on “You’ve got to learn

  1. Great idea, Eva!

    A different way to look at the lyrics and musicality of a song =)

    A lot of Shakira’s songs are done by her with both a Spanish and English version, so you could use those as well – though sometimes she sings quite quickly!!

    Mike =)

  2. yep and she will be more suitable for the teenagers. There are some Mark Anthony songs as well, both in Spanish and English. Thanks Mike

  3. Hi Eva,
    There are lots of Disney songs which have versions in many languages. This is what I did with one of them for fun this week: (made using Overstream software)
    I really like your idea 🙂

    1. Thank you Sandy. I sometimes cannot find anything for younger teenagers and the Disney songs will be great for them.

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