Songs are a fun way to improve your listening skills and pronunciation. My students have used this method, and so have I. It has helped me achieve excellent pronunciation in Spanish, and I’ve been complimented on my pronunciation and reading speed in Korean, even though I’m a beginner! Here’s how to do it.
1. CHOOSE A SONG YOU LIKE
It’s best to start with slow songs. Once you’re used to this method, you can move on to faster and/or more difficult songs. It’s important to choose a song you like, because you will listen to it many times! You should enjoy the exercise.
2. LISTEN TO THE SONG
First, listen to the song once or twice, without trying to understand the words. Just enjoy the music!
3. FIND OR PRINT THE LYRICS (“PAROLES”, IN FRENCH)
You can read the lyrics before doing the exercise, but don’t worry too much about understanding the meaning. Now listen to the song again, but this time try to follow the lyrics as you hear the words. It will be difficult at first, because it’s a new skill for your brain to learn. You can start with the chorus, as it’s usually the easiest part since it’s repeated several times in the song. Do this every day until you can follow well: your ears and your eyes will work together. If you can learn the lyrics by heart, even better!
Once you can follow the words (lyrics), you can also start singing along. This will help your pronunciation. Try to sing exactly like the singer!
LINKS TO SONGS AND LYRICS
Here are a few links to songs and lyrics; you can also search on Youtube:
Songs in French:
Songs in English:
MEANING VS. PRONUNCIATION
For the purposes of this exercise, it’s OK if you don’t understand what the lyrics mean. The objective is to improve your listening skills, and also help you make the connection between how the words are written and how they are actually pronounced. This technique is especially useful for understanding the linking between words (called “enchaînements et liaisons” in French.)
A FINAL NOTE FOR FRENCH LEARNERS
You will notice that in songs, as in poetry, the final “e” is often pronounced, unlike in normal conversation. Remember not to do that when you speak!
I hope you enjoy working with songs! Let me know if you have any tips or advice.
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