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Learning English with CBC

Listening Lessons for Intermediate Students
Based on CBC Manitoba Radio Broadcasts
February 18, 2011

Lesson 66: Teacher’s Edition

Level: Benchmark 5 and up

Topic: Trends in Love and Marriage

Language Skills and Functions: Listening – listening to a short interview for detail; listening to a song for main ideas and inference

Speaking – expressing congratulations; giving partial agreement; expressing opinions

Reading – reading a text for information
Language Competencies: Vocabulary, Pronunciation, Listening and Speaking Strategies, Socio-cultural/sociolinguistic Competence

Language Tasks: Discussing relationships and marriage in different countries

Listening for detail in a radio interview with Hussein Unwala and Shann Ross about how they combined Scottish and Muslim traditions at their wedding

Using context clues to match idioms about love and relationships with their meaning

Describing an action using the correct form of the idiom

Expressing congratulations using the verbs hope and wish

Reading views about arranged marriage and love-based marriage and giving partial agreement

Listening to the love song The Way We Were for main ideas and inference

Discussing questions and giving opinions about the meaning of the song

Essential Skills: Reading text, working with others, oral communication

Worksheets1: 1. Listen for Detail

2. Match the Idiom with its Meaning

3. Complete the Idiom Using the Correct Verb

4. Express Congratulations to Someone

5. Express Partial Agreement on Different Views on Marriage

6. Listen to a Love Song for the Main Ideas and Inference

Appendices: Transcript of the podcast

Lyrics for The Way We Were

Manitoba Memo
Whenever new statistics on marriage are released in Canada, the media stories begin. Do the increased number of common law relationships (couples who choose to live together instead of marrying or prior to marrying) mean the institution of marriage is in trouble? While that may be a debateable point, what’s not debateable is that attitudes, trends and laws related to marriage and common law relationships in Canada have changed significantly in the past thirty years.

An analysis of Statistics Canada data reveals some interesting trends. Historically, only a small proportion of people never married in their lifetimes. However, by 2006, unmarried Canadians outnumbered those who were married or had been married. Fifty-one percent of Canadians over fifteen years of age had never been married, divorced, separated or widowed. The age for first marriages increased to 28.5 years for women and 30.5 years for men. Fourteen percent of the population were in common law relationships, a doubling of the rate in a twenty year period. Over half of the first unions for Canadians ages twenty to twenty-nine were common law relationships.

Interestingly, the percentage of common law unions in large cities with high immigrant populations, like Toronto and Vancouver, were significantly lower than the Canadian average. According to marriage historian Rod Phillips, this difference is due to the fact that marriage has a different “texture” in the countries of origin of many immigrants. It is more community oriented, more family oriented and more strongly tied to faith than in Canada. However, he also anticipates these differences will decrease over time. The children of second generation immigrants are likely to become more like their Canadian counterparts. He predicts they will be more likely to live common law and delay marriage.

The definition of common law unions, and the rights and responsibilities of these unions are outlined in the Marriage Act in each province in Canada.
Common law relationships are more popular than they were in the past because financial, economic and legal reasons do not require a couple to marry. For example, banks can no longer decide who they will lend money to on the basis of their marital status.
In Manitoba, a common law relationship is not the same as legal marriage. However, in certain circumstances, Manitoba law gives common law partners the same rights and responsibilities as married partners. For example, common law partners have the duty to support each other financially and to know about each other’s financial situation. They have rights to property and assets, to pensions and death benefits. Opposite sex common law couples and same sex common law couples are treated the same way under Manitoba law.
So is the institution of marriage really in trouble? Anyone who’s been to the Wedding Show, watched the popular television show Say Yes to the Dress or tried to book a wedding reception hall at the last minute, can tell you that marriage may have changed, but so far, it doesn’t seem to have gone out of style.
Pre-listening activities
1. Discuss as a class

In your country…

  • How do couples meet? How well do couples know each other before they get married? Do couples get engaged? Do they live together before they get married? Do couples live together but never get married?

  • What role do families/parents play in marriages in your country? Do they have a say in who their children marry? Do they determine what traditions are part of the wedding or who attends? Who pays for the wedding? Is it the couple, the family or both? Are weddings expensive?
  • Is it common for people to marry someone of a different faith or cultural background? Are both faiths/cultures reflected in the marriage ceremony/reception? Or does one person adopt the traditions of the other?

  • What’s the average size of the wedding party? How many guests are invited? How many days do the celebrations last? Does the couple take a holiday after the wedding?

  • Have you been to a wedding in Canada? How was it similar to weddings in your country? What was different?

  • In Manitoba, there are often events that lead up to the wedding. Have you ever been to a shower? A stag or stagette? A wedding social? What happens at these events? What kinds of celebrations are held prior to a wedding in your culture?

2. Vocabulary
Elicit or present key vocabulary that students need to understand prior to listening to the podcast (see suggested vocabulary and explanations which follow). You can write the words on the board and elicit possible meanings from the class or break students into groups and give each group a few words to review. Groups can then present the vocabulary to the rest of the class. You can also ask students to mark the syllables and stress for each word, identify word families and practise pronouncing the words. You may want to ask students to think of sentences that use the new vocabulary. If your students keep a vocabulary journal, they can copy the vocabulary into their journal.

to blend traditions Combining different beliefs and customs to produce a good result can be described as blending traditions. For example, a wedding ceremony can blend the practices of two faiths.

a hybrid A hybrid can be described as the interaction between two customs or traditions to make a new custom or tradition. An example would be a blended wedding with both Scottish and Indo Canadian traditions.

a wedding reception When guests socialize with each other and the newly married couple over food and drink, this is called the wedding reception. It takes place after the ceremony.

to be doable Something that can be done fairly easily is said to be doable.

non-negotiable When something is non-negotiable, the people involved refuse to discuss or change anything about it.

an aspect of An aspect of an idea or a plan is one part of the idea or plan.

the Nikah The Nikah is the contract between the couple in an Islamic marriage.

a ritual A ritual is a ceremony that is performed the same way each time as part of a religious or social occasion.

to be akin to Something which is similar to something else can be described as being akin to it. For example, a kilt is akin to a plaid skirt.

a play-by-play of Play-by-play is a sports term. Television sports announcers provide viewers with a play-by-play report on a game as the game happens. A play-by-play account of an event describes the activities that take place (or which have taken place) in the order that they happen (or have happened).
a Mehndi A Mehndi is a South Asian traditional event that takes place prior to the wedding. At the Mehndi, the bride and other female members of the wedding party have their skin temporarily decorated with henna, a reddish-brown dye.

a kilt A kilt is a thick skirt made of a traditional Scottish fabric called tartan. It’s a material with a pattern of lines and squares. Different families have different tartan patterns as part of their heritage. In a Scottish wedding, the groom and other male members of the wedding party wear kilts.

groomsmen A term used to describe the male members of the wedding party who have special duties to perform. The best man is one of the groomsmen.

(her) late brother’s kilt Used in this context, the word late means that the brother is dead and the kilt used to belong to him.

let’s face it An idiom which means we have to accept a situation for what it is and deal with the reality that we face.

3. Predict what the interview is about

In this story, Ismaila Alfa interviews Hussein Unwala and Shann Ross about their wedding. The couple currently live in Calgary with their nine month old son. Hussein’s family emigrated from Pakistan and Shann’s family is Scottish. They wanted a wedding that reflected both their cultures. Ask students if they can predict some of the things Hussein and Shann might tell us about their wedding.

Here are a few examples:

I think they’ll talk about…how difficult it was to keep both families happy.

They’ll probably talk about… the ceremony.

I wonder if they’ll tell us...how much the wedding cost.

I’m sure they’ll describe…what the wedding party wore.

I can’t imagine what they’ll talk about.
While-listening activities

    1. Introduce the podcast

      Tell students that in this podcast, they will hear four speakers. They will hear:

Marcy Markusa – host

Ismaila Alfa – interviewer

Hussein Unwala and Shann Ross – the couple

Play the podcast for the first time.
(Note: If your students are not familiar with the wedding traditions of Hussein and Shann’s cultures, you can Google pictures of Scottish and Pakistani wedding parties and weddings to help establish a context!)

2. Listen for detail
Hand out Worksheet 1 and review it with students. Ask students to work with a partner to complete it. Discuss the answers as a class.
After-listening activities

  1. Review pre-listening predictions

Ask students whether they were able to predict some of the things Shann and Hussein talked about.

2. Use context clues to match idioms about love and relationships with their meaning
Handout and review Worksheet 2. Ask students to work with a partner to complete it. Take up the answers as a class.
3. Describe an action using the correct form of the idioms

Handout and review Worksheet 3. Ask students to work with a partner to complete it. Take up the answers as a class.

Extension activities

1. Using language to express congratulations

Hand out and review Worksheet 4. Ask students to work with a partner to practice expressing congratulations for each of the situations. Take up the answers as a class.

2. Read views about arranged marriage and love-based marriage and give partial agreement

Ask students whether arranged marriage is a tradition in their country. How does it work? Generally speaking, do they think it is a good idea? Why or why not?

Ask students if they can see some merits in both arranged marriage and in love-based marriages. Note that sometimes we may want to acknowledge the viewpoint of another person, but we also want to indicate that there is more information they should think about. We may want to see if we can lead them to understand an issue differently. We may want to politely disagree with them or we may just want to keep the conversation going even though our opinions are quite different.

Tell students that “Yes, but…” is one example of how we give partial disagreement. Can they think of other ways to express partial disagreement?

Hand out and review Worksheet 5. Ask students to work with a partner. Have students share their answers with the class.

3. Listen to and discuss the song “The Way We Were”

Pre-class preparation:

The song lyrics are in Appendix 2. If you can’t find a version of Barbra Streisand singing the song, you can read the lyrics aloud to students. However, it’s not difficult to find! The song is available for purchase on iTunes.

You can also find several versions of it on YouTube. This version has a still photo of Streisand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NqBWLeP9f4

An alternative is a concert version of the song, with footage from the movie interspersed. It’s at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtu9RXeYSLU&feature=related

If you are going to have students order the song lyrics while they listen, you will need to cut the lyrics in Appendix 2 in strips and make a set for each group.

In class:

, tell students that there are many famous love songs in music from all genres – pop, rock, folk, jazz, blues, country and classical. It’s very common for people to express their love for someone in song or to sing about things that have gone wrong in a relationship. It’s also common for couples to identify a song as “our song.” This is a song that has a symbolic importance in their relationship.

Ask students if songs about love are an important part of their culture. What are some of the themes of love songs in their culture?

Tell students that the song they are about to listen to is one of the top ten love songs of all time in North America. It was the theme song and the title of a 1973 movie starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. The song and the movie are about their relationship. Barbra Streisand sings this song toward the end of the movie.

The title of the song is The Way We Were. Ask students if they can predict what kind of story the song will tell, based on the title. You could also ask:

  • Do they think it’s likely that it’s a happy song or a sad song? Why?

  • Do they think it’s likely to be about a current relationship or a past relationship ? Why?

Second, play the song. Ask students to work in small groups. Play the song of couple of times. Then hand out the lyric strips and explain the task. Students can use Appendix 2 to see if they have ordered the lyrics correctly.

Third, hand out and review Worksheet 6. Discuss the answers to the questions as a class.

Want to know more…

If you plan to be married in Manitoba, Vital Statistics is responsible for marriage licences: http://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/GettingMarried.html

For more information on common law relationships, go to:

This CBC website has background information on marriage rituals in different cultures:


This online article, Immigrant families opt for traditional marriage,

provided background for the Manitoba Memo: http://carleton.ca/Capital_News/28092007/n2.shtml

Background for Worksheet 5 on the pros and cons of arranged marriages came from the online article, Indian students discuss pros, cons of arranged marriages

The Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) has a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)on their website. The questions are answered in plain language and many of the topics are related to common law relationships and family law. You can search the FAQ’s by category. Go to:

Learning English with CBC Lesson 42: Romance Across Cultures and Lesson 43: Manitoba Homecoming 2010 have complementary extension activities for this lesson. Lesson 43 is relevant because it includes a text about Manitoba socials.

Manitoba socials.

CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external websites

Worksheet 1: Listen for Detail

Sometimes when we listen, we are listening primarily for detail. Read the questions below with your partner. Listen to the interview and decide if the details in the following statements are true or false. The first one is completed for you as an example.


The wedding included traditions from more than one culture.




The easiest part was the reception.




Only Canadian food was served at the reception.




The ceremony did not include a Muslim marriage ritual.




The Nikah was followed by a Mehndi.




Men and women in the wedding party had the traditional henna painting.




The bride combined two traditions by wearing a white wedding dress but also having the Mehndi up to her elbows and knees.




The bridesmaids wore a type of pant and the groomsmen wore a type of skirt.




After the reception, everyone went skating.




The couple believes weddings are about more than the wishes of the bride and groom.



Worksheet 2: Match the Idiom with its Meaning
There are many idioms about love and relationships. A lot of these idioms are used in everyday conversation. Working with your partner, see if you can match the following idioms about love and relationships with their meaning. The first one is completed for you as an example.

Idiom Meaning
1. to be head over heels about someone b__
2. to break someone’s heart ___
3. to be smitten with someone at first sight ___
4. to break up with someone ___
5. to fool around on someone ___
6. to make up with someone ___
7. to go out with someone ___
8. to tie the knot ___
9. to go through a rough patch ___

Select the meaning for each idiom from the list below.
a) to get back together

b) to be deeply in love with someone

c) to be very attracted to someone you’ve recently met

d) to end a relationship

e) to go on a date

f) to get married

g) to be sexually involved with someone who is not your usual partner

h) to hit a time in a relationship when things are not going well

i) to hurt someone romantically by mistreating them or leaving them

Think about idioms in your language. Are there idioms about love and relationships?

Worksheet 3: Complete the Idiom Using the Correct Verb

Read the following sentences with your partner. Each sentence uses one of the idioms from the previous worksheet. Can you describe the action by completing the sentence with the missing verb in the idiom? Watch for context clues to help you decide whether the verb form is past or present.

1. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am head over heels in love with him!

2. I can’t even stand to talk about her. It was months ago that she ______ my heart.

3. From the very first time he saw her across the room, he _____ smitten.

4. When she heard he’d been seen around town with his former girlfriend, she ________ up with him.
5. It was a big surprise to find out that Jim ______ fooling around while he was married. He didn’t seem like the type.
6. Yes, we are back together. We realized how much we missed each other and we _______ up.
7. He is very persistent. He won me over and I have decided to ___ out with him after all.
8. Shann and Hussein _____ the knot over a year ago. Their ceremony was lovely.
9. Gudrun told me that she and her husband ____ going through a rough patch. No wonder she is having trouble focusing on her studies.

Worksheet 4: Express Congratulations to Someone

A marriage is just one of many occasions in life when we need language to express congratulations. There are two structures we use to express congratulations to someone in English. One uses the verb to wish and the other uses the verb to hope. To express hope that is not only about ourselves a that clause can be used. If the sentence is about hope for someone else in the future, either the present or future tense can be used. The meaning is the same. Here are examples of how we use both structures:

to wish

to hope

Congratulations and best wishes. I wish you all the happiness in the world.

Congratulations! I hope you are very happy.
Congratulations! I hope that you are very happy in the years to come.
Congratulations! I hope that you will be very happy.

With your partner, take turns expressing congratulations in each of the following situations using the verb wish or hope. The first one is completed for you as an example. You can choose responses from the options in the box. If the response you choose uses the verb to hope, can you write a second response with using a different structure? Note that there are three possible structures for to hope in the box above.

1. Your niece just graduated from university. You say:

Congratulations on your graduation! I hope that you will find the job of your dreams.

or Congratulations on your graduation! I hope you find the job of your dreams.

2. Your best friend just purchased a new home. You say:


3. Your neighbor just opened a business. You say:


4. Your teacher just won the lottery. You say:


5. Your father just retired. You say:


6. Your son just announced his engagement. You say:


7. A classmate just passed Canadian Language Benchmark 6. You say:


Possible responses:

a) Congratulations! I hope that you will share your winnings with our class! What do you plan to do with all that money?

b) Congratulations Dad! I wish you the very best in the years to come.

c) Congratulations on your graduation! I hope that you will find the job of your dreams.

d) Congratulations! I hope that you are very happy with the test result.

e) Congratulations! I hope that you will enjoy having your own place. It’s such a nice neighbourhood.

f) Congratulations! I wish you all the best. I’m sure many customers will soon be walking through your door.

g) Congratulations son! I hope that the two of you will be happy forever.

Worksheet 5: Express Partial Agreement on Different Views on Marriage

Sometimes we want to acknowledge the viewpoint of another person, but we also want to indicate that there is more information they should think about. We may want to see if we can lead them to understand an issue differently. We may want to politely disagree with them or we may just want to keep the conversation going even though our opinions are quite different.

Here are examples of how to start a sentence to express partial agreement:
Yes, but..................

I hear what you are saying, but...............

To a certain extent I agree with you. However,.......................

You have a point, but ....................

You make an interesting point, but.........................

That may well be true, but.......................

I think I can see what you are getting at, but .........................

The chart below provides two scenarios that reflect the views of two university students on marriage. Both students are immigrants from India. Kamal supports arranged marriages. Raveena supports marriage where love is central to the decision to marry. Read through their views with your partner. Practice expressing partial agreement in response to each of the points Kamal and Raveena make. The examples on the next page will help you get started.

Kamal’s points about arranged marriages

Raveena’s points about love-based marriages

  1. stability is more important in a marriage than love but you can still fall in love in an arranged marriage

  1. arranged marriages are convenient and ensure compatible religious, education and financial backgrounds

  1. if you don’t know a person well going into marriage, you are more likely to learn to compromise

  1. arranged marriages must work because the divorce rates are lower

  1. people should be able to choose their own partner according to their desires and needs

  1. it’s impossible to know if you could spend your life with someone after only meeting them a few times

  1. women are more equal partners in marriages based on love

  1. it’s hard when a marriage doesn’t work but it’s even harder on women when an arranged marriage doesn’t work

One way to express partial agreement with Kamal’s first point:

Kamal makes an interesting point when she says you can still fall in love in an arranged marriage. But what if you don’t fall in love? Is stability enough?

Express partial agreement with Kamal’s second point:



Express partial agreement with Kamal’s third point:


Express partial agreement with Kamal’s fourth point:


One way to express partial agreement with Raveena’s first point:

Raveena has a good point when she says people should be able to choose a partner according to their needs and desires. But in my culture, your family also has a big say in who you marry.

Express partial agreement with Raveena’s second point:



Express partial agreement with Raveena’s third point:


Express partial agreement with Raveena’s fourth point:


Worksheet 6: Listen to a Love Song for Main Ideas and Inference

Music is all about our personal response to the melody, the lyrics and the musicians. What does a song tell us? How does it make us feel? What can we infer about the writer/singer? What parts of the song can we personally relate to?

After you’ve listened to The Way We Were several times, and put the lyrics in order, discuss the following questions with your group. You can use the written lyrics in Appendix 2 to help you with your answers.

1. What is the song about? What is the main idea?

2. What do you like about the song? What don’t you like?

3. What kinds of emotions are expressed in the song?

4. How would you describe the relationship the couple had? Do you think it was a good relationship, a bad relationship or a bit of both? Can you find lines in the song to support your answer?

5. What does the singer remember most about the relationship?

6. Do you think the man in the relationship was happy? What lines/words might give you that impression?

7. Do you think the singer is optimistic or pessimistic about the possibility they might get back together? What lines/words give you that impression?

8. Do you think this song deserves to be on a list of top love songs of all time? Why or why not?

Appendix 1: Transcript

January 3, 2011 Broadcast Date





Hi I'm Marcy Markusa and you're listening to Learning English with CBC. As Canada’s immigrant population continues to grow, more and more events blend the traditions of different cultures. In this story, reporter Ismaila Alfa interviews a couple who did an amazing job of blending traditions in a hybrid wedding. They honoured and celebrated Shann’s Irish/Scottish Catholic background and Hussein’s Indo Muslim traditions. Their advice to others in a similar situation? Keep your sense of humour!



So when it came to planning the wedding, ah what parts came together most easily?



I think the things that were probably the easiest to plan were the reception, would you say Shann?


Ya, food.


Food was definitely doable.



And what was so easy about planning the food?


‘Cause there was so much to choose from I guess, with the Indian menu there’s tons of wonderful stuff and then um so we tried to combine it and have um meals that people could choose whether they wanted to have ah a Canadian dish or an Indian dish. So we had bison steak and butter chicken.



What parts were non-negotiable?


Oh, I’ll let Hussein answer that.


Um, well I mean certain things um like certain aspects of the Muslim wedding, the Nikah, that’s the ah kind of the Muslim ah marriage ritual so ah maybe akin to the “I do” part of ah Western weddings.



So I mean in my mind I’m trying to form a picture from everything you guys are describing so far. Can you give me a bit of a play by play of how the day works?



Leading up to the wedding we had done the Nikah, then we had a Mehndi, which is the traditional henna painting of the brides and other women in the wedding, their hands and feet sometimes and for the bride it goes right up to the elbows and up to the knees. So I had all the Mehndi done and I wore a white traditional western wedding dress so that was sort of mixed and then all my bridesmaids were wearing um beautiful salwar kameez which is a the kind of Indian outfit that you might see with the long shirt and ah sometimes they’re tight pants or sometimes they’re balloon pants underneath and Hussein wore my late brother’s kilt and all of his groomsmen wore kilts as well.

And then, after that, as I said, we had our lunch reception and then went skating.




Why is it important, why was it important to you to really ah represent both cultures so thoroughly in your ah in your wedding?



To honour our family and their traditions. It’s ahm, weddings, let’s face it, are not just about the bride and groom.

Appendix 2: Lyrics for The Way We Were2


Light the corners of my mind

Misty water-colored memories

Of the way we were

Scattered pictures,

Of the smiles we left behind

Smiles we gave to one another

For the way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then?

Or has time re-written every line?

If we had the chance to do it all again

Tell me, would we? Could we?

Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet

What's too painful to remember

We simply choose to forget

So it's the laughter

We will remember

Whenever we remember...

The way we were...

The way we were...

1 Answers to worksheets are in the self-study version of the lesson plan.

2 The song was written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, scored by Marvin Hamlisch and performed by Barbra Streisand.


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