This post is part of a series I’m writing on using concept albums to teach language. Below you’ll find an introduction to The Streets and Mike Skinner’s album: A Grand Don’t Come For Free, as well as some introductory activities based on the central theme that comes up in the album’s story.
The Streets is actually Mike Skinner, a British rap/garage artist from Birmingham, in the Midlands in the UK. Skinner’s big break with The Streets came towards the end of 2000, when his single ‘Has It Come To This? reached number 18 in the UK charts. In 2002, the album ‘Original Pirate Material’ was released, Skinner aiming to take UK garage in a direction ‘reflecting the lifestyle of clubbers in Britain’ (1). The album was relatively successful both in the UK and the USA, and was followed up by Skinner with ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ in 2004.
This album is a concept album, telling the story of a period in the life of a twenty-something guy, during which time he:
- loses a thousand pounds
- starts a relationship with a girl named Simone
- goes on holiday
…among other things.
A grand is British slang for a thousand (1,000) and is commonly used when referring to money, i.e. a grand = £1,000 (‘one thousand pounds’).
Challenge your learners to unravel the title of the album from the word cloud above. Extend the language by asking them to think of high-frequency collocations that go with these words (e.g. a free lunch, ‘buy one get one free’, etc.).
Dictate the following question and ask your learners to discuss it in pairs for one to two minutes
What would you do with a thousand pounds?
[alternatively, insert a similar amount of local currency, or the converted amount from pounds sterling]
Monitor and help learners with the language as appropriate, making notes of successful and less successful usage to feed back on. Ask the learners to talk to at least two other members of the class. Ask if anyone had any interesting ideas. Ask learners to tell the class what someone else told them they would do. Go over the language notes you have made. Repeat for the following questions:
What would you do if you lost a thousand pounds? How would you feel?
Again, invite learners to tell each other the most interesting or useful suggestions.
In preparation for the next activity in this series, ask them to think about their daily routine and the tasks they have to do. If they have the facilities, they could bring pictures or write notes for the next class.
Next up: It Was Supposed To Be So Easy…