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! 

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.

Curso: phonetics and pronunciation for CLIL teachers (Febrero-Marzo 2020)

El CARLEE organiza una nueva edición del curso Phonetics for CLIL teachers, dirigido a docentes que imparten docencia de asignaturas no lingüísticas en lengua inglesa durante el presente curso en programas bilingües. El objetivo del curso es conocer nociones básicas de fonética y de cómo funcionan los sonidos del inglés, para mejorar la pronunciación de los docentes participantes. Es un curso práctico, en el que se dan numerosos ejemplos extraídos de contextos reales y de cultura audiovisual, y dirigido al entorno académico/escolar. 

La inscripción se realiza en DOCEO, del 11 al 21 de febrero.

 

Información completa en este enlace.

 

workshop: Tips and resources to improve teachers’ pronunciation

If you are interested in improving your English pronunciation in order to feel more confident when teaching in English, this 2-hour workshop may be useful to you. It will be carried out as part of the CARLEE’s ‘On Tour 2020’ training workshops in Monzón (1st February 2020) and Huesca (22nd February 2020).

This workshop is aimed at any teacher who is teaching their subject in English now or would like to do so in the future.

Essential features of English pronunciation will be dealt with in a practical manner: we will be discussing the importance of stress, and the prevalence of /ə/; we’ll get to know the twelve vowel sounds, and how to pronounce some tricky consonant sounds, among other features.

The examples will be taken from real contexts (mainly songs, ads, TV shows and films).

More information can be found in the video below:

 

You may also like: Speaking voices I like

Speaking voices in English I like

These are some of the speaking voices in English I like the most, and that I somehow consider ‘models’ of good pronunciation, stress, enunciation…At some points in life, when I have had to do public speaking, I have reminded myself of some of them, thinking, for example: ‘you should show the same poise as Audrey Hepburn when you’re speaking’.

To my mind, their voices are a delight to listen to and might prove a model to imitate when speaking English.

Audrey Hepburn:

Sabrina (1954)

Brian May:

Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4)

Benedict Cumberbatch:

‘Sherlock’ (BBC 2010-2017)

The Imitation Game (2014):

Martin Freeman:

Jeremy Irons:

‘Brideshead Revisited’ (Granada TV 1981)

Emma Thompson

Much Ado About Nothing (1992)

Kenneth Branagh:

Look Back in Anger (1989):

Hamlet (1996):

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002):

Nicole Kidman:

The Others (2001)

Hugh Grant:

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Notting Hill (1999)

Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie

‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ (1987-1995)

Kate Winslet:

Downton Abbey cast:

Michael Sheen:

The Queen (2006)

‘Good Omens’ (Amazon Prime 2019)

Jack Davenport:

‘Coupling’ (BBC 2000-2004)

‘Next of Kin’ (ITV 2018)

Tools to improve pronunciation and phonological control