Curriculum - Languages - Lesson Plan - Bach and forwards

4th June 2010 at 01:00
Secondary - Get pupils to take note of the composer by talking about his life in German and discuss why he was drawn to Latin

What the lesson is about

This is a cross-curricular resource about the life of Johann Sebastian Bach for key stage 3 German pupils, with links to music.

Aims: pupils will

- know about the life of Bach;

- be able to ask and answer questions in German about Bach's life;

- know why Bach sometimes wrote in Latin.

Getting started

Play music by Bach as the pupils arrive and show a picture of the composer on the PowerPoint (see link provided). Does anyone recognise who he is? What do they think he did? Where did he come from? Where did he live? Ask them to write, in German, a set of questions they could ask him about his life, such as: "Where are you from?"

Show the class the timeline of Bach's life from the PowerPoint on the TES website. Draw their attention to particular events such as the death of his parents, his marriages and his imprisonment.

Divide the class into pairs. One of each pair will pretend to be Bach and the other will act as an interviewer for a German TV station.

Using the timeline and the questions they wrote earlier, get pupils to ask "Bach" questions about his life. For an extension, the pupil playing Bach should choose a year in the composer's life and their partner should guess which year it is by asking ja or nein questions.

Taking it further

Tell the class that Bach wrote one of his most famous works, the B Minor Mass, in Latin rather than German. Why might he have done this? How would they feel if they were asked to write lyrics in a different language? Ask them to make up a song in German.

Show the class the crossword from the TES website. Ask pupils to complete it by answering questions in German about Bach's life.

Get pupils to write a letter in German as if they were Bach, asking for a bigger salary from his patron. Ask them to use the internet to find out more about Bach and to write their own biography. Pupils could also make a poster advertising Bach's music in a way that would appeal to young people today.

Where to find it

The lesson plan, PowerPoint, timeline, a list of possible questions and the crossword, were originally uploaded by lauraintheholidays and can be found at

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