a-ha — Take On Me: a listening comprehension exercise

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Norwegian band a-ha came out with a brilliant new version of their classic Take On Me. Your task is to listen and complete the text – you only have to choose from a list of words.

This exercise is around B2 level on the CEFR scale.

John Lennon: Imagine – a listening comprehension exercise

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Imagine is probably one of the most famous songs ever written by John Lennon.

In this task you have to complete the lyrics of this song after listening to it – the good news is that you only have to choose the missing words from a list.

The difficulty of this exercise is around B2 level on the CEFR scale, which is approximately upper-intermediate level.

There will more tasks based on this song later, including vocabulary exercises too.

The Beatles: Eleanor Rigby – gap filling

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The famous Beatles song Eleanor Rigby has already been featured on EnglishFiles.com in a slightly more difficult task. This current exercise is easier as you only have to choose the words from a list:

The difficulty is around B2 on CEFR scale, or about upper-intermediate level.

There will be more exercises based on this song later.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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The soundtrack of this version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (originally from The Wizard of Oz) was featured in several films, commercials and radio shows, and the video was downloaded over ten million times.

Your task is to listen to the song and complete the text.

There will be more tasks coming later based on this song.

Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel – a listening comprehension exercise

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cover of Peter Gabriel single Solsbury HillSolsbury Hill is an important song in Peter Gabriel’s career for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was the first song he published as a single after leaving his band Genesis, where he had been the lead singer since the start. Secondly, it is the song that he played the most often in concert: he included it in the setlist for every tour and played it no fewer than a total of 706 times to date.

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Peter Gabriel’s debut album featuring Solsbury Hill and he (or his team?) came up with a special idea to celebrate: they put together a montage of his live performances of the song. In the video below you can see six rather different Peter Gabriels playing the same song, from 1978 to 2013.

The listening task that follows is not very difficult in itself as you only have to choose the missing words from a list. Later you’ll find more tasks based on this song, most of them more difficult than this introductory one.

We’ll come back to revisit this song (and this video especially) since the lyrics should be interesting to look at more closely and also because this version contains a slightly modified version of the final verse.

The River by Bruce Springsteen – a listening comprehension cloze test

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This is a bit more difficult listening task based on Bruce Springsteen’s classic, The River. You have to add the missing words – and some of them are not very easy.

Other available tasks on EnglishFiles.com based on the same song: a similar, easier gap-fill listening comprehension exercise and a reading comprehension exercise on the background of the song.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – a text reconstruction listening comprehension exercise

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Earlier we already brought you two exercises based on Leonard Cohen’s classic song Hallelujah: an easier and a slightly more difficult one. In both cases only some of the words were missing.

This current task is more complex since no words are given here – you have to reconstruct the full lyrics with minimal help: you get to see how many letters each word has. But other than that, you’re on your own, just like when you try to write down the lyrics of any other song.

It’s probably a good idea to do at least one of the previous versions (easierless easy) and then wait a day or two just so that you don’t exactly remember all the words because then it’s no longer a listening comprehension task but simply a memory test. But of course you can also jump right in:

There will be some more tasks based on this song, including a reading comprehension text and vocabulary exercises too.

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.