One Vision /ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/ by Queen and Love Profusion /prəˈfjuːʒ(ə)n/ by Madonna to practise /ʒ/, /ʃ/, and /dʒ/

The phonemes /ʒ/, /ʃ/ and /dʒ/ can be tricky to identify and sometimes produce in certain contexts for Spanish speakers of English. The song One Vision by Queen can help students get acquainted with the differences in sounds.

One Vision (Queen) -You can do this interactive exercise: click here or on the screenshot below:

Alternatively, you can download the worksheet below. Start watching the video from 1’15”:

Love Profusion by Madonna also contains plenty of words featuring those sounds (profusion, destruction, illusions…). It also contains examples of yod coalescence (I’ve got you –/ɡɒt juː/ becomes /ɡɒtʃuː/). 

Love Profusion lyrics

My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music) to tell the difference between /s/, /z/ and /ɪz/

This activity is aimed at helping students tell the difference between /s/, /z/ (and /ɪz/) in plural endings (the same as in 3rd person singular present simple endings and possessive ‘s). It uses the song “My Favourite Things” from the film The Sound of Music, which makes a long list of plural things the singer allegedly loves.

Students are provided with the phonemic transcription of the singular word. By applying the rule, they can guess what sound(s)/phoneme(s) would be used to pronounce them in the plural. Then, they can check their answers against Julie Andrews’s performance, by paying special attention to the way she pronounces either /s/ or /z/. Can they tell the difference?

  • Exercise- click here
  • Key to answers- click here

 

Norwegian Wood, by the Beatles- vowel sounds, diphthongs, weak forms

This is an activity I came up with long ago for a course on phonetics and pronunciation. Ask students to listen to Norwegian Wood by The Beatles, and have them fill in the gaps with the vowel sound/diphthong they hear. To do so, students can have a phonemic chart in front of them. [The same number in brackets means the same vowel sound or diphthong is being used]

  • Exercise– click here
  • Key to answers– click here

Students can listen to the song twice. Then, they can share their answers with the other members of their group, or partners if they’re working in pairs.

The objective is to increase their phonemic awareness, and help them tell the difference between some tricky vowel sounds (/ɪ/ and /iː/, for example). As a follow-up, students are also asked to spot weak forms of grammatical words. These are marked green in the answer key.

Sia- Everyday is Christmas

Australian singer-songwriter Sia has released an album called ‘Everyday is Christmas’, with 10 brand new songs about the holiday season. The tone of the songs ranges from festive to the one in Sia’s best-known ballads.

I feel some of the songs in the album could be used in a classroom context, replacing other classics teachers themselves might be tired of using year after year. The videos for three of the songs can also be attractive to young children, as they use claymation.

In any case, here’s a playlist with Christmas-related songs, as well as Sia’s full album:

SoundHound: music discovery, lyrics finder…

For quite some time, Musixmatch was one of my favourite apps, as it allowed you to play a song on a mobile device and display the lyrics to it (more about it here). Sadly, with the passing of time, the free version of the app lost many of its functionalities (although the extension for YouTube still works, and I still recommend it). Fortunately, I have found something which might replace Musixmatch, and add something extra.

The free app SoundHound (iOs, Android, Windows, Blackberry) is a mixture of the popular app Shazam + Musixmatch…with an extra twist. Just like Shazam, if you want to know what song is playing, you need to tap on the app and it will yield information about singer, song title, and album (in most cases, anyway).

The extra feature that SoundHound offers compared to Shazam is that you can also sing or even hum the song you’re looking for. The likelihood of the app recognising the song may depend on the user’s singing voice, maybe even pronunciation, and the degree of accuracy may not be as high as that of the original, granted, but it is well worth a try (even as a challenge or a competition among friends / students?).

Once the song has been identified, you can choose to play the song from Apple Music / Google Play, if you have a subscription; from Spotify, if you are a Premium user; or go to good old free YouTube (this can be set as the default option in the settings). As the song starts playing, the lyrics will come up, so you can listen and read.

I have tested it using songs in English, French and Spanish, and it seems to work. You can try it for free, anyway, for your own personal use, or as a recommendation to students. If you try it out, why not review it by leaving a comment below?

Holding Out for a Hero

You can listen to the full song with lyrics below (“Holding Out for a Hero”, as sung by Jennifer Saunders in Shrek 2):

And this is the original version sang by Bonnie Tyler:

https://vimeo.com/218204588

literary devices in pop songs

We’ve been discussing some of the literary devices you can find not just in literature, but also in pop music. You can watch the videos again to help you remember them:

Antithesis:

Allusion:

maxresdefault

Anaphora:

https://vimeo.com/214467057

Alliteration:

https://vimeo.com/214364710

Hyperbole:

https://vimeo.com/214786688

https://vimeo.com/214786635

Oxymoron:

https://vimeo.com/214782652

Personification:

https://vimeo.com/214784063

Simile:

https://vimeo.com/214786809

https://vimeo.com/214785041

Watch the whole song (Full of similes):