Sting: Russians – a listening comprehension exercise

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Listen to the song Russians by Sting and write down the words you hear.

Although Sting’s voice can be clearly heard all through the song, it’s still not an easy task because the vocabulary is pretty advanced in places. Also, the lyrics contain some abstract ideas and poetic language, which again make this listening comprehension task more difficult. Overall, it’s somewhere between B2 and C1 level, probably closer to the latter – an advanced level exercise.

Some names have been added to help you a bit.

There will be follow-up exercises to help you learn the vocabulary of this song.

Vocabulary practice: ‘disappoint’ – word formation

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This post is part of the series featuring the words and expressions found in the U2 song One. The first in this series was the collocations exercises with blame.

In this exercise you have to put the word disappoint in the correct form to complete the sentences.

You’ll find more vocabulary practice exercises based on the song One later here.

Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer – a listening comprehension exercise

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Once again, a classic: the famous duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel first performed this song in 1969 and it has been popular ever since. The lyrics are not simple: you’ll find some advanced vocabulary items, some of which you might be unfamiliar with.

In this exercise version, only some easier words are left out, and if you still have difficulties, you can ask for hints.

Later you will find more tasks here based on this song, including vocabulary exercises and a pretty difficult text reconstruction task.

Vocabulary practice: collocations with ‘blame’

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The word blame occurred in the U2 song One. In these two exercises you can practice how to use this word in sentences.

Pronunciation (click on the Play icon):

Please note that in some sentences more than one answer might seem grammatically correct, but if you consider the meaning of the sentences you’ll realize that only one makes sense in each case.

Your task is the same in this second exercise, too:

There will be some more vocabulary exercises based on the words and expressions in One.

Suzanne by Leonard Cohen – a gap-fill listening comprehension exercise

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Again, a famous song (and also an old one!), but a different task type this time: you only have to enter the missing words, not the whole text of the song. This is not a difficult exercise since Leonard Cohen sings in an easily understandable manner and the song is fairly slow too – it’s around intermediate level, or B1 on the CEFR scale.

As usual, you can ask for hints by clicking on the Give me a letter button – please note that the free letter will be added in the gap where you have your cursor and that you’ll lose points with this option.

There will be other tasks based on this song later, including vocabulary exercises and the usual text reconstruction task type too. We’re also planning a reading text on the background of the song.

Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega – a listening comprehension exercise

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The original version of this unique song is a cappella (with no music), which is quite rare in pop music. It was also published in several different versions and a number of other artists came out with their own covers too. Initially we had a concert version of the song for this task but then we decided to feature the original video instead as it’s easier to understand.

Your task is to listen to the song and write down the lyrics. It’s not very difficult: slightly below B2 level on the CEFR scale, which is between intermediate and upper-intermediate.

There will be other tasks based on this song coming later, so stay tuned.

Fragile by Sting – a listening comprehension exercise

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This is not an easy listening task for a number of reasons. Though the song sounds fairly slow-paced and Sting’s voice can be clearly heard, he sings the words relatively fast in some places, and the vocabulary level is rather advanced too. Also, the whole song is fairly poetic and contains some complex structures, which makes understanding pretty challenging. Nevertheless, you should give it a try – and there’s always the Hint button, which will give you the next letter.

Probably it’s a good idea to listen to the song as a whole first and concentrate on listening only without actually writing anything. Then before starting again you should be able to add at least a few words, which will make your task easier.

You will find more tasks based on this song here later.

Where the Wild Roses Grow — Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue

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Listen to the song Where the Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (with Kylie Minogue) and enter the words you hear.

You can stop the video whenever you like but it’s probably a good idea to listen to it once from beginning to end and then start again and stop after only each line.

The difficulty of this task is about C1 level on the CEFR scale.


There will be more tasks based on this song, including vocabulary practice and also reading comprehension exercises on the background of the song.

Someone Like You by Adele

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Listen to the song Someone Like You by Adele and fill the gaps in the lyrics.

Feel free to stop or rewind the video whenever you feel it’s necessary but ideally you should play it once from start to finish and then for the second time only stop it once after every line.

This task is about B2 level on the CEFR scale.

There will be more songs by Adele, and also a different version of this same song: a text reconstruction exercise, where you’ll have to create the whole text yourself.

One by U2 — the background: a vocabulary exercise

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This task is based on the background story of the song One by U2. Read the text and for each gap choose the most appropriate word.

A listening comprehension task based on the song appeared earlier on EnglishFiles.com.

There will be more tasks coming based on this song, including another listening comprehension exercise and also vocabulary practice tasks later.