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Reading Comprehension Worksheet: Jerusalema Dance Challenge

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These days, we hear a lot about viruses and how to avoid catching them. Interestingly, there are some similarities in the way we talk about music and viruses. We can talk about “catching” a virus and we can describe a song as “catchy”. A catchy tune, like a virus, moves easily from one person to another. We also describe internet trends as being “viral”, even if they are good. Nothing exemplifies this more than the global phenomenon of the 2020 dance song Jerusalema.

The song was first released in November 2019 by South African DJ and producer Master KG (Kgaogelo Moagi), featuring South African vocalist Nomcebo. The tune manages to be both upbeat and mellow at the same time, so you can enjoy it no matter what mood you are in. Its lyrics represent a crossover between two usually disparate genres: house music and gospel music. The words implore God to guard the singer and walk with him. His kingdom, we hear, is not this world. The song made a good impression when it was released, but it really exploded onto the world stage a few months later, in June 2020, when the song was remixed with Nigerian artist Burna Boy. At this point, Jerusalema went viral.

But its fame does not come from the song alone. It has also caught on as a dance craze, after a dance challenge under the hashtag #JerusalemaDanceChallenge was started by a group of young Angolans in February 2020. The now famous choreography has inspired copy cats around the world. YouTube is full of groups of people staging the dance from every continent and every walk of life, from Italian nuns to wedding guests in Zimbabwe. The hopeful lyrics and upbeat tune have brought people together from all over the world, in a time in which we all need something to smile about. The song has also had an impact on African politics, helping to heal a diplomatic rift between South Africa and Nigeria. Jerusalema is a pan-African cultural export that has brought some peace and light to the whole world.

At the center of it all is proudly South African Master KG. His talent has propelled him to worldwide fame. He even enjoys the enviable privilege of being the writer of the world’s most “shazamed” song. Shazam is an application that identifies the names of songs. If you hear a song you like, but you don’t know the name, you can put it into Shazam and the application will tell you everything you need to know. Just like “Google”, this application has become a verb in the English language because of its popularity. Through his astronomical success, Master KG and his Jerusalema Project have provided a great morale boost to South Africans. Already known for its wonderful weather and natural beauty, South Africa is now known for having given a rather gloomy world a reason to sing and dance.
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Wild Rhino Sanctuary, South Africa
Austria
Bucharest

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Questions:

  1. Find two words  in paragraph 1 that both mean “contagious”.
  2. Can we describe a good thing as “viral”, or only a bad thing? (Par. 1)
  3. What is a genre? (Par. 2)
  4. Find a synonym for “separate” or “disconnected” in the paragraph 2.
  5. Find a synonym for “beg” or “request” in paragraph 2.
  6. When was the song Jerusalema initially released?
  7. What does it mean to say that the song “exploded onto the world stage”? (Par. 2)
  8. Why do you think the song has become so popular?
  9. How do we know that there was a problem between South Africa and Nigeria in the past?
  10. Are things better now?
  11. What is the meaning of the prefix “pan” as in “pan-African”? (Par. 3)
  12. If something is enviable, are we saying that it is positive or negative? (Par. 4)
  13. Give two internet terms that have become English verbs. (Par. 4)
  14. Find a synonym for “huge” or “impressive” in the context of describing someone’s accomplishments. (Par. 4)
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Answers:

  1. Viral or catchy.
  2. It can be used for a good thing, such as musical or cultural trends. This distinguishes the word “viral” as it appears in a medical context, where it is only negative.
  3. A genre is a form or type of text or production. If the student does not know the meaning of the word, he/she should glean it from the immediate context.
  4. Disparate – “Its lyrics represent a crossover between two usually disparate genres: house music and gospel music.”
  5. Implore – “The words implore God to guard the singer and walk with him.”
  6. November 2019. Later on, the text, we see “June 2020”, but this latter date is the date of the remix.
  7. Allow the student to paraphrase this idiomatic language. Possible answers:
    • suddenly became famous around the world
    • made a big impact
    • became a huge phenomenon in a short space of time
  8. Allow the student to paraphrase the text, or come up with his/her own thoughts. In the text, the following suggestion is made: “The hopeful lyrics and upbeat tune have brought people together from all over the world, in a time in which we all need something to smile about.”
  9. The phrase “diplomatic rift” tells us that there was a problem.
  10. Yes, because the text tells us that the project has helped to “heal a diplomatic rift between South Africa and Nigeria”.
  11. The prefix connotes unity between many parts of a whole. “Pan-African” means “all of Africa”.
  12. We are saying it is positive.
  13. Google and Shazam.
  14. Astronomical
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Printables:

Comprehension worksheet – passage only
Comprehension worksheet – questions and answers only
Comprehension worksheet with questions and answers per paragraph
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