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! 

listening: Can you save the world? computer game teaching children about social distancing

Listen to the extract and, using the information you have heard, fill in the gaps with up to six words (from 1 word to a maximum of 6 words).  You can listen to the extract twice.

Source

Can you Save the World- exercises- pdf

You can read the transcript here. 

If you are curious about it, you can play the game here. 

Further reading:

Listening- What’s next for Irish pubs?

1. Listen to an extract about Irish pubs, and their place in the so-called ‘new normal’. Before you listen, fill in this form to make sure you understand the meaning of some of the words appearing in the extract.

Click/tap here to open the form in a new tab 

2. Now, listen to the clip and fill in the gaps with up to six words. You can listen to the clip twice.

Source

Listening: What is Zoombombing and how to prevent it

Listen to the extract and for each question choose the most suitable answer (a, b or c):

Listening comprehension: changes to lifestyles due to the coronavirus pandemic

Listen to these three clips. For each question (1-6) choose the best answer (a, b or c). You can listen to each clip twice:

Listening: the impact of COVID-19 on book publishers

Listen to an interview with an executive of a well-known publishing house, where he discusses the impact of bookshop closures on the publishing business.

Before you listen, think about what your answers to these questions would be, off the top of your head:

  • Do publishers rely heavily on physical shops for their book sales, or is the online market more substantial?
  • What book genres are selling well at the moment?
  • Are new books scheduled to be launched in the near future?
  • Is there going to be a new crop of writers emerging from lockdown?

[Your predictions may not be right. However, they can help you spot the right information when it comes up during the interview- you may become more alert to specific data or key words if you are waiting for them to appear to check whether your prediction was right or wrong].

Now, listen to the interview.  Take notes to answer the questions above. You can listen to the extract twice.

You can read the transcript here

How GCSE and A-level grades are going to be awarded in 2020

England has already announced how GCSE and A-level grades are going to be awarded this year. Listen to this report to find out more:

Transcript:

Click/tap on the screenshot to open the file

Glossary:

Further info:

Exam regulator unveils GCSE and A-level plans for coronavirus crisis

Speaking points: 

  • How do you feel about this decision? Can you weigh the pros and cons? 
  • In your view, how are grades going to be awarded in Spain to primary school pupils? To secondary students? 
  • Could these measures be applied to students sitting the EBAU/EVAU exams this year?