Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 78. Learn English With Beyonce ‘Halo’

My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher, I teach through one to one classes and I want you to know I believe you can eliminate your language blockade. I’ve overcome a massive blockade myself and I know how to do it. 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. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation.  Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hey there again, welcome back. So good to have you here! It’s February, Valentine’s Day is coming. So I thought, let’s pick a beautiful love song. At that point, I realised we had never talked about any of Beyonce’s lyrics. How come? So, I’ve picked ‘Halo’, a love song. 

What are we going to talk about today? Well, I chose 12 words and phrases to focus on. Words and phrases like: to tumble down, to put up a fight, to make a sound, a doubt, a halo and many more. I’ll give you definitions, explain how to use them. Those phrases are later used in the practical part. There are 22 example sentences, you’re task is to repeat them all out loud. 

But before that, I’ll give you a few really interesting song facts and then we’ll go through the whole lyrics, line by line repeating it out loud. Ok, are you ready? Let’s begin with the song facts.

“Halo” was written in 2009. A massive success, I don’t have to tell you. This won the award for Best Song at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards, and it also won the 2009 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song has been covered by Katy Perry, Major Lazor, Florence And The Machine. Perhaps the simplest way to describe it is as a tune in which the singer is comparing her romantic partner to an angel. 

She ‘built walls’ around herself. Why? Well, maybe she suffered from some emotional disappointment in the past. However, now things have changed. He has been able to get past these barriers. 

He has transformed her life due to his presence and she is deeply in love with him and intends to hold onto this relationship.

“Halo” was also part of Beyoncé’s set list as she held down the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2013. Beyonce performed this tune in memory of Kobe Bryant during a tribute held for the basketball legend on 24 February 2020.

Ok, finally, we’re jumping in the lyrics. It’ll be fun, I invite you to listen and repeat line by line:

Remember those walls I built?

Well, baby, they’re tumbling down

And they didn’t even put up a fight

They didn’t even make a sound

Tumbling down – to tumble down means to fall suddenly and in a dramatic way. The walls I built are falling down. Very similar meaning of the verb ‘tumbling’ says it’s to fall downwards, often hitting the ground several times. 

Put up a fight – to try, to suggest, to offer, to show a particular level of skill, determination, the state of being ready to fight. So, those walls didn’t even put up a fight, they didn’t show any effort to resist this force, they just came tumbling down.

Make a sound – to produce a sound. Those walls, again, well they came tumbling down in perfect silence, they didn’t even make a sound. Not only didn’t they put up a fight, but they also didn’t even make a sound of I don’t know, complaint? Maybe.

Coming back to the lyrics:

I found a way to let you in

But I never really had a doubt

Standing in the light of your halo

I got my angel now

To let you in – To allow or permit someone to enter. It also means to share a secret with someone. 

A doubt – a doubt is this feeling when you are not certain about something. I picked this word because of the silent letter ‘b’. Don’t read it, it’s just /daʊt/, /daʊt/.

Halo –  a halo is a bright circle that is often shown above or around the heads of holy people in religious art. It’s also  a circle of light or something bright. Like the one of an angel. I’ve got my angel now. An angel with a halo.

Next verse, listen and repeat:

It’s like I’ve been awakened

Every rule I had you’re breaking

It’s the risk that I’m taking

I ain’t never gonna shut you out

I’ve been awakened – It feels like I’ve just woken up, I was awakened by someone. To be awakened. When someone wakes you up, or your alarm clock wakes you up, you are awakened. 

It’s the risk that I’m taking – to take a risk, that’s a strong collocation. To take a risk, or to take risks. When you do that you do something even though you know that something bad could happen as a result

Shut you out –  shut somebody out, it means to deliberately not let someone join you in an activity or share your thoughts and feelings. 

Time to listen and repeat the chorus:

Everywhere I’m looking now

I’m surrounded by your embrace

Baby, I can see your halo

You know you’re my saving grace

You’re everything I need and more

It’s written all over your face

Baby, I can feel your halo

Pray it won’t fade away, 

I can feel your halo (Halo) halo

I’m surrounded by your embrace – embrace. This noun has two meanings. The first is a hug, so putting your arms around somebody as a sign of love or friendship. The second meaning says it’s accepting an idea, a proposal, a belief.

Saving grace – ​the one good quality that a person has that prevents them from being completely bad. This one thing that saves you. 

Fade away – to become very weak, ill, or die. She hopes his halo will never die, and he will be near her forever.

Fabulous! Let’s continue:

Hit me like a ray of sun

Burning through my darkest night

You’re the only one that I want

Think I’m addicted to your light

I’m addicted to your light – to be addicted to something means to be unable to stop using or doing something. Usually it’s somehing harmful, like cigarettes, drugs or alcohol. But really, you can get addicted to anything. Social media, people’s opinions, you name it. 

Next verse, please repeat after me:

I swore I’d never fall again

But this don’t even feel like falling

Gravity can’t forget

To pull me back to the ground again

I swore I’d never fall again – I swore I would never fall again. So her actuall words, if I was to quote were: ‘I will never fall again’. But now I report those words, and I have to change will to would. I promised I would help. 

But this don’t even feel like falling – and be careful learning English with music. This don’t even feel like falling. Normally you would say: It doesn’t feel like falling. But you know,. This is a song and what is the priority here is the rhythm, melody and rhyme. Correct grammar is not of a songwriter’s sort of main interest, ok? So, yes, it is a mistake, but it’s done on purpose. For the sake of the music. 

Brilliant, that it, this is where the lyrics start to be repeated and now it’s time for your practice. My dear listener, please suspend your doubt, your fear for a while and repeat after me out loud. Say the sentences out loud. Let those word out, hear yourself, copy the melody, intonation and rhythm. Speaking is akin to music.  

I have prepared  22 sentences, so you’re up for some work now. Grab a glass of water or something else to drink  and let’s begin:

The scaffolding came tumbling down.

He slipped and tumbled down the stairs.

We tumbled down into the hole.

They surrendered without putting up much of a fight.

I expect they’ll put up a fight when we announce the pay cuts

They put up a good fight, but they never really had a chance to defeat us.

Don’t make a sound till he’s gone – I don’t want him to know we’re here.

My clock makes a sound like a bird when it strikes the hour.

Are you going to let them in on your plans?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Please, let me in!

He was starting to have some serious doubts.

There is no doubt at all that we did the right thing.

She played the part of an angel, complete with wings and a halo.

 He was awakened at dawn by the sound of crying.

That’s a risk I’m not prepared to take.

How can I help you if you just keep shutting me out all the time?

He held her in a warm embrace.

I can’t embrace his hypocrisy.

I think my sense of humour is my saving grace.

In the last weeks of her life, she simply faded away.

I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone.

The homework, the worksheet is waiting for you in your inbox, it’s accompanied with an email from me, so please grab it and complete the missing words. If you aren’t a member of TOPeople go to teacherola.com/78 and download the worksheet. The next one will be delivered to you, you won’t have to worry. 

Let’s have all today’s phrases listed, one last time before we say goodbye:

To tumble down

To Put up a fight

A doubt 

A halo 

To make a sound

Awakened

To take a risk

To shut someone out

Embrace

Saving grace

To fade away 

To be addicted to something 

Here you have it, 12 words and phrases from a love song by Beyonce ‘Halo’. If you know someone who likes learning English with music let them know about this podcast. 

And next Wednesday, grammar. Please don’t miss it! Till then, take care. See you really soon, happy learning. Stay fearless and say it out loud. Bye-bye!