Anagrams are words formed by rearranging the letters of a different word, as in “elbow”-“below”, “act”-“cat”, “save”-“vase”, or “stressed-dessert”. In this activity (B1/B1+) based on Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” (1983), the students read the lyrics and try to find the forty-five anagrams that have been included. The students write their answers on the right-hand column, which also indicates the number of anagrams they are expected to find in each line.
1 said 2 me 3 tonight 4 still 5 left 6 write 7 what 8 could 9 time 10 once 11 was 12 now 13 goes 14 where 15 arms 16 there 17 miracle 18 how 19 need 20 how 21 me 22 maybe 23 last 24 feel 25 right 26 could 27 wrong 28 maybe 29 this 30 for 31 much 32 when 33 take 34 start 35 said 36 on 37 heart 38 now 39 are 40 wonderful 41 and 42 care 43 things 44 bad 45 intend
The students will be using their knowledge about grammar and vocabulary to rearrange the letters of the words whenever communication is interrupted as they read. Word categories and collocations will prove useful in some cases, spelling will be decisive in a few others, yet a good number of anagrams will be solved by focusing on meaning and thinking of words with similar letters (and which belong to the right category and with the right spelling) that might be the most appropriate for that context.
The activity is checked by having the students listen to the song at the end. Did they solve most of the anagrams? How did they solve them? Which anagram did they find the easiest? And the most difficult? Why? After checking the meaning of some of the anagrams in the song, can they now write a sentence using some of them?