Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – an open cloze listening comprehension exercise

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Here’s another exercise based on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – this one is also a listening comprehension task, but a bit more difficult than the previous version because here you have to find the words on your own as there is no list to choose from (this is called an open cloze test).

You can try an easier version of the same song here – you only have to choose the words from a list in this exercise.

Earlier we featured two other Leonard Cohen songs, Suzanne and Famous Blue Raincoat – make sure you check out those exercises too.

More tasks will follow based on this song.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen: a listening comprehension exercise

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Leonard Cohen, one of the greatest musicians of all time, passed away on November 7 this year. We celebrate his musical legacy with a concert recording of his masterpiece, Hallelujah.

This classic is considered to be the most covered song ever, having inspired well over 200 covers so far. The song has many different versions and almost every performer changes the lyrics to a certain extent, adding or removing verses. Leonard Cohen himself played it quite differently over the years, including the variation in the final verse to suit the concert venue – in the case of this video, London; this was a highly anticipated and appreciated feature of the night everywhere. You can hear the crowd cheering loudly in the background for this line.

This exercise is not meant to be very difficult; it’s aimed at intermediate to upper-intermediate level students (between B1 and B2 levels on the CEFR scale).

Fairly soon you’ll find exercises here based on the vocabulary of this song, together with more listening comprehension tasks.

Earlier we featured two other Leonard Cohen songs, Suzanne and Famous Blue Raincoat – make sure you check out those exercises too.

Handle with Care – The Traveling Wilburys: a listening comprehension exercise

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Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in literature earlier today and we’re celebrating it with a listening task, what else?

Most Bob Dylan fans will know that he was a member of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, together with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. The song featured here, Handle with Care, was one of the hits of this short-lived band.

Sting: Fields of Gold – a listening comprehension exercise

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Another gem from Sting: Fields of Gold. Not a very difficult listening comprehension task this time, probably between levels B2 and C1. Some of the vocabulary can be a bit tricky but Sting’s singing voice is nicely clear and easy to understand.

Check back in a few weeks for more exercises based on this song, especially vocabulary.

The Beatles: Eleanor Rigby – a listening comprehension exercise

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Once again, a song which is half a century old and still sounds as fresh and relevant as only few today. Eleanor Rigby was released in 1966 on the album Revolver, and it has been popular ever since. It has also influenced the English language as the line all the lonely people has become a set phrase. And how many songs can you think of that served as inspiration for a statue? See the cover image; here is the plaque in a more readable resolution:

Plaque on the statue of Eleanor Rigby

The difficulty of this task is about upper-intermediate level, or B2 on the CEFR scale.

Some words (mainly names) have been added to help you a little.

More exercises based on this song will follow.

Leonard Cohen: Famous Blue Raincoat – a listening comprehension exercise

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I almost wrote “this is one of the most famous Leonard Cohen songs”, but you can say the same about a dozen of them, so let’s just say “another great song”. Your task is to listen to the original studio version and write down the words you hear.

Once again, this is not a very easy exercise (later you’ll get easier ones based on this same song); the difficulty is probably somewhere between levels B2 and C1 (advanced). Although the tempo of the song is slow and Cohen’s singing voice is fairly easy to understand, his imagery and poetic language can prove to be tricky.

Some words (mainly names) have been added to give you an easier start.

Fairly soon you will find more tasks here based on this song, including vocabulary exercises too.

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.