John Lennon lesson plan
- anniversary of his birth - October 9th
- anniversary of his death - December 8th

Preliminary information

Time: 90 minutes

Level: Intermediate up

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To extend the stds' store of vocab connected to music
To give listening practise - for detail & for pleasure
To review 2nd conditional sentences
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will be interested in John Lennon & his music.
That the language in the text will not be too difficult.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary may be challenging - stage 4 will help with this.

The quotes for stage 1 & extra quotes at the bottom of this page.
The text for the main article in stages 2 & 3 from Rolling .
Song - 'Imagine' in stage 5.

A few more web links to Lennon sites
'Bagism is the place for fans of John Lennon and The Beatles to come together and learn, educate, and have fun.'
Lennon's lyrics.
John Lennon Day For Peace And Love On Earth - sign the petition.
Lennon links


Stage 1 - Intro to the theme - some lesson quotes to discuss
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Put the quotes below on the board - ask the stds to discuss who might have said it.
2. Feedback - see who they come up with. On to John Lennon & tell the stds that 10th October is the anniversary of his birthday. In pairs they share all they know about JL. There are lots more quotes at the end of this page for use here if you need them.
3. Pairwork - be on hand for any vocab questions.
4. Feedback - draw together the different information they have on JLs life.

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."
"We're all Christ and we're all Hitler. We are trying to make Christ's message contemporary. We want Christ to win. What would he have done if he had advertisements, T.V., records, films and newspapers? The miracle today is communication. So let's use it."

Stage 2 - Reading - logical sequencing of the text
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Set up the reading task - that the stds individually decide on the correct order for the paragraphs of the biography of JL. Tell them to do it as quickly as possible - give a time limit of 2 minutes.
2. Handout the jumbled paragraphs - read & order.
3. Pairs compare their orders & readjust as necessary.
4. Feedback - establish the order for all, get the stds to justify their choices & sort out any problems along the way.

Stage 3 - Reading - more detailed reading & response to the text
20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Stds write 8 comprehension questions
2. Stds hand them to their partner to answer.
3. Stds hand back to original std for correction.
With a partner, they decide on the most interesting part of JLs life & why.
5. Feedback - elicit different ideas >> class discussion.

Stage 4 - Language focus - music vocab
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Ask stds to underline all words connected to 'music' - guitar, skiffle band, singer, songwriter, songwriting credits, hits, experimental & mystical music, pop-oriented, release, cover of the album, recorded, radio stations, B-side, rock 'n' roll festival, performance, band, guitarist, live album, contract negotiations, debut solo album, protest song, commercial& artistic failure, title track, No 1 comeback, onstage, record deal, charted, fan, rarities.
2. Task - individual.
3. Stds compare & help each other with meaning. You might have dictionaries at hand - encourage them to discover meaning from the context first & then use the dictionary to confirm their thoughts.
4. Feedback - help out with any questions.
5. You could design a gap fill task to check some of the items.

Stage 5 - Listening - song - 'Imagine'
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Elicit the titles of JLs songs >> 'Imagine' >> elicit any of the lyrics - 'Imagine there's no….?
2. Set task - to list for any continuations to the sentence.
3. Play.
4. Stds compare.
5. Feedback & elicit the other parts of the song, the general message, whether they like it or not & whether it is still relevant today.

Stage 6 - Follow up to the song - Imagine there's no…
20 mins
1. Put the stem on the board 'Imagine there's no…/there aren't any...
2. In pairs stds think of 5 different things to add eg. languages, schools, football...
3. Task - monitor
4. Swap round the ideas & the pairs to receive another pairs stems have to complete with a consequence.
5. Task - monitor & help out.
6. Stds hand back the papers to the original pair who decide on two of the most interesting ones.
7. Quickly review 2nd conditional structure.
7. Stds read the sentences out using the second conditional eg. If there wasn't any football, we'd all be crazy about basketball.
8. Class vote on the most interesting, imaginative etc..
9. If time, you could go back to Lennon quotes & use some more from the end of this page.

Text taken from Rolling Stone web site

John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 to a troubled, working-class Liverpool family. John's father deserted his mother when John was only three, so at an early age Lennon was sent to live with his aunt in the suburb of Woolton, where he was a rebellious child. Frequently skipping school and doodling instead of studying, Lennon left Quarry Bank High School at age 16 after his aunt persuaded the headmaster to write him a recommendation to Liverpool Art College. At art school Lennon became involved in music, buying a guitar and starting a skiffle band in early 1957. That band, the Quarrymen, evolved over the next few years into the Beatles. Lennon remained a principle singer and songwriter for the band through its decade-long career, splitting these duties with Paul McCartney. The pair agreed early on to share songwriting credits, though they directly collaborated on only a few of the Beatles' hits. Lennon, for his part, contributed more experimental and mystical music during the band's later years, while McCartney was more pop-oriented; Lennon also led the group into drug use during the mid-'60s and encouraged them to follow his guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Shortly after forming the Beatles, Lennon married an art school classmate, Cynthia Powell, with whom he had a son, Julian, in 1963. Their marriage was rocky, especially after Lennon began openly dating an older Japanese-American artist named Yoko Ono. Cynthia divorced John in 1968, clearing the way for John and Yoko to begin living and working together full time. Shortly after the release of 1968's The Beatles (aka The White Album), John and Yoko released the experimental "found sound" collection Unfinished Music, No. 1 -- Two Virgins. The cover of this album featured a naked photo of the couple, causing it to be banned from many stores. Lennon and Ono became the subject of media attention as reporters speculated that Ono was "controlling" Lennon and causing trouble for the beloved Beatles. In the spring of 1969, shortly after the trouble-filled Get Back sessions were completed, Lennon and a very pregnant Ono embarked on a "honeymoon" to Europe, stopping along the way to get married in Gibraltar on March 20th. The couple staged a notorious "Bed-In" at the Amsterdam Hilton, where they recorded the single "Give Peace a Chance," released later that year. Opposition to the Vietnam War was very important to the couple, who constantly decried political injustices from their celebrity bully pulpit.

The newlyweds returned to England in May 1969, where Yoko had a miscarriage, the first of several. To deal with their anguish, John and Yoko hastily recorded two more avante- garde albums, Life with the Lions -- Unfinished Music No. 2 (which features such "songs" as flipping through various radio stations and several minutes of silence) and The Wedding Album (whose entire B-side consists of John and Yoko screaming each other's name). After recording Abbey Road during the summer of 1969, Lennon flew to Toronto, where he performed at a September rock 'n' roll festival with "The Plastic Ono Band," consisting of Ono, famed guitarist Eric Clapton, German session bassist Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White; the band's performance was captured on a live album released later that year.

As Lennon spent more time collaborating with Ono, he began to distance himself from the other Beatles. In late 1969 he informed the group that he wanted to quit the band, but because contract negotiations were underway with EMI, his decision was kept quiet. Lennon and the Plastic Ono band recorded the single "Cold Turkey," about Lennon's struggles with heroin, but the song was not particularly popular. Lennon intensified his political actions, paying for billboards in various cities that called for the end of war, and returning an award given to him by the Queen in protest of Britain's involvement in Biafra. Lennon refocused on his music career in February 1970 with the Top 10 hit "Instant Karma." Two months later Paul McCartney released his debut solo album and publicly announced the end of the Beatles, angering Lennon, who had first had the idea and wanted to be the one to break the news. Lennon vented his anger with John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, his first official album, which consisted of highly personal songs often screamed in rage. A few months later, in early 1971, Lennon released the protest song "Power to the People."

In the spring of 1971 Lennon and Ono relocated to New York City, moving into the Dakota, an historic apartment building on Central Park West. Lennon wasted no time becoming involved in American society, siding with Chicago Seven political radicals and frequently speaking out on political issues. That fall Lennon released his most popular solo album to date, the No. 1 charting Imagine, which dealt with personal and political issues in a more accessible manner than his earlier works. In early 1972 Lennon began fighting off U.S. Immigration Authorities, who had denied him a work visa due to a 1968 conviction for marijuana possession. Partially in protest, Lennon collaborated with the radical New York band Elephant's Memory on the album Sometime in New York City, a simplistic political work which is widely regarded as a commercial and artistic failure. In 1973 the INS ordered Lennon to leave the U.S.; Lennon refused, and began publicly attacking the agency. Later that year Lennon released the surprisingly tame Mind Games, whose title track was a minor hit.

In 1974 Lennon separated from Yoko Ono, relocating to Los Angeles. For the next two years Lennon became heavily involved in drugs, and became a frequent attendee of celebrity parties and wild night clubs. Through the party circuit Lennon developed a friendship with Elton John, with whom he co-wrote the song "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," Lennon's 1974 No. 1 comeback. The single was featured on the album Walls and Bridges (which also reached No. 1). On Thanksgiving night Lennon joined John onstage at Madison Square Garden, a legendary performance which turned out to be Lennon's last public concert. The following year Lennon recorded a contractual obligation album, Rock And Roll, a collection of cover tunes from the 1950s. Several months before the official release of the album, businessman Morris Levy released a bootleg of the record as Roots. Lennon later sued Levy, winning a large judgment in court.

By the end of 1975, things had turned around for Lennon: Elton John had helped John and Yoko resolve their marital differences, and in early October an appeals court overturned the deportation order which had been haunting Lennon. The following year Ono became pregnant yet again, and on October 9, 1976 (John's birthday) gave birth to their child, Sean. After contributing to a David Bowie album in the summer of 1976, John retired from music to raise his child and tend house, while Ono handled the family's complicated business and legal affairs and worked on her conceptual art.

In early 1980 Lennon came out of retirement and signed a new record deal with Geffen. John and Yoko recorded a new album that summer, Double Fantasy, which was released in November. The highly listenable album and its first single, "(Just Like) Starting Over," both charted, and Lennon seemed to be on the verge of a comeback. While leaving his New York apartment on December 8, Lennon was approached by a sleazy-looking fan who requested an autograph. When John returned home several hours later, the fan was still outside his apartment, and shot Lennon several times. He died minutes later, and the crazed fan, Mark David Chapman, was quickly arrested. On December 14 at 2 p.m., Lennon fans around the world participated in a widely publicized 10-minute silent vigil. Naturally, Double Fantasy and "Starting Over" went to No. 1 and sold thousands of copies. As Chapman went to trial, bizarre details came out about the disturbed loner, who apparently was obsessed not only with Lennon, but also with the popular novel Catcher in the Rye. He was easily convicted and sentenced to an indefinite term in a mental institution.

In the years following Lennon's death, his cult only grew. During the mid-'80s Capitol released several albums of unreleased songs, including 1985's Milk and Honey and a recording of Lennon's performance at a 1972 benefit concert, among others. In the ultimate exploitation of Lennon rarities, in 1995 and '96 the remaining Beatles recorded music over two "new" Lennon home demos from the late '70s; "Real Love" and "Free As a Bird." These tracks appeared on the 1996 Beatles Anthology albums as "new Beatles songs."


Imagine - John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...


Some more quotes

"Love is the flower you've got to let it grow." - John Lennon

"It doesn't matter how long my hair is or what colour my skin is or whether I'm a woman or a man." - John Lennon

"Love is the answer and you know that for sure". - John Lennon

"Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon (Beautiful Boy)

"Am I crazy or am I a genius? I don't think I'm either." - John Lennon

"I always was a rebel...but on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted...and not just be a loudmouth, lunatic, poet, musician. But I cannot be what I am not." - John Lennon

"I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people." - John Lennon

"It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. You'd wake up in a concert and think, Wow, how did I get here?" - John Lennon

"My defences were so great. The cocky rock and roll hero who knows all
the answers was actually a terrified guy who didn't know how to cry. Simple." - John Lennon

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock and roll or Christianity." - John Lennon

"I'm not saying we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person, or God as a thing, or whatever it is. I just said what I said, and it was wrong, or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this." - John Lennon

"The writing of the Beatles, or John and Paul's contribution to the Beatles in the late sixties - had a kind of depth to it, a more mature, more intellectual approach. We were different people, we were older. We knew each other in all kinds of different ways than when we wrote together as teenagers and in our older twenties." - John Lennon

"We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest of that ship ... We were part of it and contributed what we contributed. I can't designate what we did and didn't do. It depends on how each individual was impressed by the Beatles or how our shock wave went to different people. We were going through the changes, and all we were saying was, it's raining up here, or there's land or there's a sun or we can see a seagull. We were just reporting what was happening to us." - John Lennon

"I'd never met a woman I considered as intelligent as me. That sounds big-headed, but every woman I met was either a dolly-chick, or a sort of screwed-up intellectual chick. And of course, in the field I was in, I didn't meet many intellectual people anyway. I always had this dream of meeting an artist, an artist girl who would be like me. And I thought it was a myth, but then I met Yoko and that was it." - John Lennon

"We realized there's something wrong here, if everybody was upset by the fact that two people were naked." - John Lennon

"I was too scared to break away from the Beatles, which I'd been looking to do since we stopped touring. And so I was sort of vaguely looking for somewhere to go but didn't have the nerve to really step out into the boat myself, so I sort of hung around, and when I met Yoko and fell in love, my God, this is different than anything before. This is more than a hit record. It's more than gold. It's more than everything...When I met Yoko is when you meet your first woman, and you leave the guys at the bar, and you don't go play football anymore. Once I found the woman, the boys became of no interest whatsoever, other than they were like old school friends." - John Lennon

"In 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' I was visualizing Alice in Wonderland, an image of this female who would come and save me - a girl with kaleidoscope eyes who would be the real love of my life. Lucy turned out to be Yoko." - John Lennon

"Rituals are important. Nowadays it's hip not to be married. I'm not interested in being hip." - John Lennon

"We're all in a bag, you know?...I was in a pop bag, going round and round, in my own little clique. And she [Yoko] was in her own little avant-guarde clique, going round and round...So we just came up with the word. If you'd ask us what bagism is, we'd say, 'We're all in a bag, baby." - John Lennon

"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or my music, then in that respect you can call me that...I believe in what I do, and I'll say it." - John Lennon

"People want peace. And you've got to sell it and sell it and sell it. So we do the bed-ins and they say, 'What? They're in bed? What's this?' And all we're doing really is donating our holiday. We get tired and it's...more convenient for us to stay in one spot than go around doing press conferences." - John Lennon

"Well, crying for it wasn't enough. The thing the sixties did was show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility." - John Lennon

"If The Beatles or the 60's had a message, it was 'Learn to swim. And once you've learned - swim!" - John Lennon

"Living is easy with your eyes closed..." - John Lennon

"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now? Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." - John Lennon

"Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It's like being posessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won't let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. It's always in the middle of the night, or you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is. Every time you try to put your finger on it, it slips away. You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them..." - John Lennon

"I don't intend to be a performing flea any more. I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be around I don't intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don't want to die at 40." - John Lennon

"My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all." - John Lennon

"Those in the cheaper seats clap. The rest of you rattle your jewellery." John Lennon, 1963 (Royal Variety Performance)

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