Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 27:  Learn English With Abba ‘Happy New Year’.

My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher.

This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello and thank you for making this decision to learn some English today. I hope you spent New Year’s Eve exactly how you had wanted. Where were you? At the party? At your friends? In your bed or on the sofa? No matter how you greeted 2020 I hope it’ll be the best year of your life. I wish you all the best, lots of love, kindness, happiness and of course meeting all your goals. I hope your English will skyrocket this year and you’ll eliminate the blockade that stops you from being you.

Today I decided it has to be ‘Happy New Year’. Everybody knows the melody, especially the chorus, but do you really understand the lyrics? They’re less cheerful than you think I dare say. Let’s learn some English with a song written for the end of the decade but 30 years ago. It gives me the shivers how time flies. I was one when the song was released. Many of you weren’t even born!

After listening and repeating sentences please go to teacherola.com/27 and download the worksheet. Do your homework, ok? I’ll read the whole text line by line and I’ll stop every four lines to explain the vocabulary. Your task is to focus on the lyrics and example sentences and repeat them. Let’s do it, shall we?

No more champagne

And the fireworks are through

Here we are, me and you

Feeling lost and feeling blue

Great job, ok, so:

To be through –  To be finished or completed. The fireworks are over, they are through. When people end the relationship, they can say to each other: we’re through. Let’s repeat:

We’re through.

She said she was through with me.

Once that project is through, can you file this paperwork?

You started that book on Monday are you through yet?

Here we are – it’s used when you have finally arrived somewhere you were travelling to. Repeat:

Here we are – home at last.

To feel lost – ‘Lost’ is an adjective, if you are lost, you don’t know where you are and you’re unable to find your way somewhere. You might also know an American tv series, once very popular: I used to watch it of course: ‘Lost’ about the survivors of a plane crash who ended up on a mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. Keep in mind that the past simple and past participle of ‘lose’ is ‘lost’. It’s an irregular verb, it’s quite common to make the mistake of turning it into a regular verb: so sometimes I hear ‘losted’. Forget it, use ‘lost’. Lose, lost, lost. Repeat after me:

‘Are you lost?’ the driver asked.

I got lost on the way here.

To feel blue – to feel sad and without hope. A good synonym of ‘blue’ is ‘sad’ or depressed’.

I’ve been feeling kind of blue.

He’d been feeling blue all week.

Next verse:

It’s the end of the party

And the morning seems so grey

So unlike yesterday

Now’s the time for us to say…

Before you find out what we all should say today let’s have a look at some phrases:

The morning seems so grey – if something seems to be true for example, there are things that make you, make people think it is true. So here, the morning seems so grey, we have such an impression, it appears grey. Repeat please:

She didn’t seem very pleased.

It seems like you’re really upset.

It seems like a good idea.

The building seems to be in good condition.

Unlike yesterday  – ‘unlike’ means ‘different’. It’s an adjective and a preposition.  Yesterday was very different, right? People, music, food, laughter. Now everything seems so grey. Let’s repeat sentences:

It’s unlike her to be late.

Unlike most of my colleagues, I don’t come to the office before 8 am.

They’re both teachers but they’re unlike.

The chorus now:

Happy new year

Happy new year

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

May we all have a vision – may we all have a vision, ‘may’ here is used to express a desire, a wish. Like in the song ‘White Christmas’: ‘may your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white’. It’s wishes. Let’s repeat:

May all your wishes come true.

May you both be very happy.

May you have a prosperous New Year.

Neighbour – seems like a simple word, but I notice many pronunciation errors here. You can say ‘neighbour’ or ‘neighbour’. And a ‘neighbour’ is a person who lives next to you or near you. But not only. It’s also a country, a person standing next to you or any other human in a broad sense.

Let’s see the examples:

We should all love our neighbours.

Children, please be quiet and don’t talk to your neighbour.

Next verse:

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

You and I

A will to try – you know ‘will’ is a modal verb, but here it acts as a noun: a will. A will is a determination to do something that you have decided to do, like your resolution for the next year, even if this is difficult. Let’s practice:

Some people have a weak will.

She’s achieved success by her strength of will.

I have an iron will to speak English every day this year.

Let it be your manta, ok? Let’s repeat again:

I have an iron will to speak English every day this year.

Might as well – a cool expression meaning you should do something, because there is no good reason not to. It can be used to say that the effect of an action or situation is the same as if it was another one. Here in the lyrics, it’s said that we need our hopes, and we need our will to try if we don’t have them, if we don’t have our hopes and strong will, the consequences will be severe. We have no other option, we need to hope for the better. If we don’t we might as well just lay down and die.

I guess we might as well go home.

The deadline is tomorrow but you might as well send it on Monday, I’m sure they’ll accept it.

The weather is so bad, we might as well stay at the hotel.

Next 4 lines:

Sometimes I see

How the brave new world arrives

And I see how it thrives

In the ashes of our lives

Thrive – ​to become, and continue to be, successful, strong, and wealthy and healthy, etc.

Her business is thriving.

These plants thrive when watered properly.

Children thrive on rules.

Ashes of our lives –  the ash that remains after burning a dead person’s body or a situation in which something is completely destroyed. Ashes of our lives, only ashes are left whatever is left of us.

His ashes were scattered around his house.

The company has risen from the ashes and is thriving now.

And the last bit of the text:

Oh yes, man is a fool

And he thinks he’ll be okay

Dragging on, feet of clay

Never knowing he’s astray

Keeps on going anyway…

A fool – an idiot. Short definition. Repeat after me:

Don’t be such a fool!

Don’t make a fool of yourself.

I accepted the offer like a fool.

Dragging on – to drag on means  to go on for too long. Repeat after me:

The court battle dragged on for another two years.

The meeting dragged on till late afternoon.

Feet of clay – If you have feet of clay you have​ some kind of weakness in your character, for example:

Don’t be surprised when you discover your idol has feet of clay.

To be astray –  to be astray or to go astray means to be lost. If your plan goes astray it goes wrong. Let’s repeat some sentences:

The best plans can go astray.

Her letter went astray and was never found.

The plot is really complex, the reader can easily go astray.

To keep on going – or to keep on doing something, means to continue doing something without stopping. Let’s repeat:

He didn’t say a word, just kept on working.

Don’t mind me, just keep on dancing.

You just have to keep on trying.

One more verse:

Seems to me now

That the dreams we had before

Are all dead, nothing more

Than confetti on the floor

OK guys,

Dead – dead is an adjective, don’t confuse it with ‘death’ which is a noun. See the difference? Can you hear the difference? ‘Dead’ – adjective, and ‘death’ – noun. Let’s repeat some sentences and practice:

He was shot dead in front of his house.

Latin is a dead language.

What was the cause of her death?

Do you believe in life after death?

The last verse now:

It’s the end of a decade

In another ten years time

Who can say what we’ll find

What lies waiting down the line

In the end of eighty-nine…

Ok guys,

A decade – a period of ten years

In another ten years time – in ten years from now, means in the future, ten years from now into the future. Let’s repeat:

I’ll be back in a minute.

I need it in two hours, please hurry.

Waiting down the line – ‘down the line’ means in the future. Repeat:

You never know what’s down the line.

I’ll make a decision further down the line.

Here you have it. The lyrics of ‘Happy New Year’ explained. Now. How are you feeling at the beginning of the new decade? Have you made any resolutions? I make a lot of plans every year, and I track them all year long. How about you?

This time, maybe you noticed, some of the sentences I repeated twice, so if possible, please let me know if it’s any better. If you feel more comfortable if it’s just easier for you to repeat when I say it twice, just let me know if you can.

Teacherola.com/27, there you’ll find a full and free transcript as well as the worksheet.

Please spread the word about my podcast. Maybe there’s someone you know who needs it? Let them know.

Thank you so very very much for tuning in! Next Wednesday we’ll meet here to talk about some grammar. This time it’s going to be the passive voice. Don’t miss it. Till next Wednesday, stay warm, take care. Happy learning. Happy New Year.  Bye-bye!