Monday, July 6, 2009

Improving Your Speech Through Songs

Many students are too shy to sing a song for 'fun' in class. To overcome that initial reluctance to sing, I always explain that I do songs for pronunciation. I don't care at all whether a student sings in tune or out of tune. In fact, I demonstrate how students can simply say the words (as if reciting a poem) along with the singer, and don't have to carry a tune at all. I do expect their lips to move.

Song clozes challenge my students to actually hear the lyrics (= the words to a song) and to teach them the rhythm and stress patterns of individual words as well as how words are linked together in phrases and sentences.

One of the big 'hits' with Cambridge students this spring was an oldie by Kenny Rogers called 'The Gambler', a thirty-year-old country-western hit. If you want to try doing this song as practice, print out this cloze sheet and then listen to the following YouTube video link. It usually takes two or three 'listens' to get all the words. The complete song lyrics are here.

Some of my students drove to and from Las Vegas singing this song, and found a slot machine called 'The Gambler' with a photo of Kenny Rogers on it. Have fun! Think about the lyrics - maybe there's an ace that you can keep, too!


Frora Bosh said...

It's a nice article. I agree with on point that through singing we can improve our pronunciation and also gain confidence...

evelyn said...

Thanks for your comment, Frora. I plan to post some more song material. If you're a teacher, I'd love to hear if 'The Gambler' worked for you. If you're a student, I hope you were able to enjoy practicing your English through singing. This week a group of students asked if we could do a song in class. Fortunately, I had a Beatles' album and another song cloze in hand. I wish my Spanish and French teachers had taught me more songs. I find that teaching songs gives me a lift too!

Sarah Gershman said...

Great post. On a related note, I am a speech coach and follow Roger Love's advice to sing your speech - as a way to open up your voice.

I just wrote about this on my speaking advice blog -

It would be great to hear your feedback!


Evelyn said...

Thanks, Sarah! You've got a fascinating blog there, and I've taken note of Roger Love's advice. I know who to go to or to send my students to for more advice on speaking.

Best wishes,