The works of Kanye West and Bob Dylan might seem like complete opposites at first glance. But using corpus linguistics, we can draw comparisons between artists across eras and genres. Take a journey through the language that both artists use in the infographic below, which looks at Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) and Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (1965).
Use This Infographic In Your Class
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Lesson Plan Inspiration
After presenting the infographic and discussing it with your ELLs, consider asking them to apply their new knowledge to this engaging follow-up activity.
1. Students should choose one song from both Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.
2. Students will then compare the lyrics of these two songs by generating word clouds in Wordle.
Note to teachers with young learners: Profanities will most likely appear in the Kanye word clouds. While they will – in most cases – only show up in small doses, it is up to you to decide if this is an appropriate activity for your students.
Speaking & Critical Thinking Practice
Questions to ask your students about their word clouds:
1. What emotional “state” was each artist in at the time of writing his song? Was he happy? Sad? Scared? Confident? What could have been going on in his life at this time? Why do you think this?
2. How would you compare the lyrics of these two artists with those of your favorite band/singer? Think about the conclusions you’ve drawn from your own word clouds as well as those of your classmates.
Ask your students to re-write one of the songs based on the words in their word clouds – and the implied frequency of these words. Students can also imagine that Kanye is featuring Bob Dylan in one of his songs – e.g. “See Me Now” (ft. Bob Dylan). Students would then use both word clouds to draft verses for each artist.
If you have musically-inclined, outgoing students, give them the opportunity to sing and/or rap their song for the rest of the class! This is a great way to foster a fun learning environment and to lower introverted students’ affective filters – provided that you don’t force this latter bunch to sing or rap, of course.