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:
- Aspiration /h/, /p/, /t/, /k/
- Weak forms of grammatical words (to, of, for, from…)
- ‘S’+ consonant at the beginning of words (in Spain)
- 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:
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:
Good examples of pronunciation:
- Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’
- The Beatles ‘Help’
- David Guetta ft Sia ‘Titanium’
- Sia ‘Chandelier’
- The Beatles ‘Penny Lane’
- The Alphablocks (BBC)- ‘Top’
2. Weak forms
3. Initial S
- Ariana Grande ft Justin Beaver ‘Stuck with You’
- Queen ‘The Show Must Go On’
- Elton John ‘I’m Still Standing’
- Dua Lipa -‘Physical’
- Lewis Capaldi ‘Before You Go’
- Take That ‘Back for Good’
- Lady Gaga ‘Stupid Love’
- Eric Clapton ‘Tears in Heaven’
- Coldplay ‘One I Love’
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!