Improve your pronunciation through songs

The summer holidays are coming, and this is an ideal time to keep practising your English without much effort, just by listening to songs in English. In the video below you can find a short description of four phonological features of English (characteristics of English pronunciation) which are present in all geographical varieties/accents of English. If you know about them, you can incorporate them into your own way of speaking English:

  1. Aspiration /h/, /p/, /t/, /k/
  2. Weak forms of grammatical words (to, of, for, from…)
  3. ‘S’+ consonant at the beginning of words (in Spain)
  4. coalescence (want you, need you)

But rather than pronounce those sounds myself, I thought it would be much better if you could listen to well-known songs where these traits/characteristics are present. The examples chosen to illustrate the pronunciation features include songs by Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Sia, Adele, Lady Gaga, The Beatles and Queen, among others.

Watch the video below for an explanation of the four traits. All along the video, you will be presented with links to fragments taken from songs. You can either scan the QR codes which will be appearing in the video, or click on the links at the end of this post:

Click here to open the video in a new tab

You can watch the video with subtitles. Click on the CC/subtitles icon if they don’t start automatically. You can also skip parts of the video, by clicking on the video chapter that interests you the most (click on the timestamp-the red line as you watch the video, or, if you watch the video on YouTube, open the description below the video and click on the timestamp of the topic of your choice).

You can find a summary of some of the songs mentioned in the video in this infographic (click on the image to open it on a new tab and activate the interactive elements):

Exercise: Read the lyrics to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay and try to identify the pronunciation features present in the blue sounds/chunks of speech.  Then listen to the song to check if your guesses were correct. Could you notice the way the singer pronounces those sounds?

Exercise (Click/tap on the screenshot to download the pdf file):

 

You can check your answers here:

Click here to open the form in a new tab

Key to answers

Good examples of pronunciation:

1. Aspiration

2. Weak forms

3. Initial S 

4. coalescence

Resources:

More about these resources here

  • More resources on pronunciation can be found here.

Finally, you can find all the songs mentioned in this playlist:

Have a great summer holiday, and listen to lots of songs in English! 

Adele’s appearance: should it be discussed at all?

British singer and megastar Adele posted yesterday a photo on her Instagram account to thank the messages she had received on her birthday. She seemed to have lost a lot of weight since her last public appearances, which has hit the (tabloid) headlines in the UK.

Some journalists and commentators, however, are wondering whether Adele’s appearance should be a matter of discussion at all:

Reading: Why the photo of a new, slimmer Adele makes women like me feel uncomfortable

Click/tap on the screenshot to read the article

Source

Other critical voices have also expressed criticism on social media that Adele’s weight loss should be front-page news at a time like this.

What are your views on this? 

  • Should Adele’s appearance be discussed at all?
  • Should she have been taken as a role model by women of her same build, as the article mentions?
  • What is the message that this being news is sending to readers/female readers?
  • How can perceptions and preconceptions about women’s appearance be altered?

Entertainment while under lockdown- Speaking/mediation activities

These days, plenty of world-famous artists are livestreaming impromptu concerts from home through social media; theatres are streaming older productions for free…Is this going to have a long-lasting effect on the way entertainment is produced and consumed?

Here you can find some speaking activities as well as a mediation activity on the subject:

SPEAKING: 

Click/tap on the screenshot to download file

MEDIATION IN WRITING:

Click/tap on the screenshot to download the file

These are some of the examples mentioned in the activities:

You may also like:

Mediation in speaking- C1: Operación Triunfo-cómo les ha ido a los ganadores del concurso

For our unit on entertainment, you are welcome to try this mediation task:

You’re on a video call with European friends discussing the cancellation of the Eurovision song contest, and that leads to how effective TV talent shows are at launching unknown artists’ careers. You have read this article about Operación Triunfo, one of the most successful talent shows in Spain ever. Summarise the main points of the article and the charts in it to contribute to the conversation in no more than 3’30’’.

[The length is a bit longer this time because the text is slightly longer than it should, and it also includes graphs (usually you would have 3 minutes).]

Click on any of the screenshots to download the worksheet.

 

If you think you are going to need extra help selecting the relevant information, or with some vocabulary, you may have a look at this annotated version

Source text

materiales talleres “Tips and resources to improve teachers’ pronunciation”

Si habéis participado en alguno de los talleres “Tips and resources to improve teachers’ pronunciation” del CARLEE on Tour 2020, o si simplemente os interesa, podéis acceder a la presentación haciendo click en la imagen:

Más propuestas para trabajar la pronunciación aquí.

Coldplay’s Viva la Vida- pronunciation of vowel sounds

As you know, English has 12 vowels sounds, as opposed to Spanish, which only has 5. To tell the difference between those extra vowel sounds, and to increase your phonemic awareness, you can try this exercise based on the song “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay.

(Click here to watch the video with subtitles in English)

You can download the exercise by clicking on the screenshot below:

Download the key to answers here.

Queen landmarks in London

You can find below a map with London areas related to the rock band Queen. It includes some of their former homes, as well as landmarks in their career (for example, the venue where they played their first ever gig).