How to improve your English fluency: 1 – Music
“What can I do to improve my English?” is one of the most common questions that I get from my students. My answer is always, “Practice. The more you practice, the more confident and fluent you will become.”
If you want to improve your English proficiency, then you need to expose yourself to the language in various ways, and constantly. Find and interesting book to read, look for an article online and read it out loud, or make friends with someone who’s also learning English and start a habit of regularly emailing one another. You should watch movies and series in English, and most important of all; listen to English music.
Music is one of the most effective ways to learn a new language for the following reasons: You get to hear words being properly pronounced, and practice saying them every time you sing along. You get to hear the words used correctly in sentences (in most cases), get used to hearing certain grammatical structures, and have fun while doing it.
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The thing about music is that you can listen to it while doing other things, like cooking and driving. I’m sure that many of you would agree with me when I say that a good song is one of those things that can lift your spirit and motivate you through your darkest moments. So; why not try it in English? You don’t have to abandon your home language; just allow the magic of music to enter your life through the English language as well.
I learned my first Swahili words by listening to Kaja Nin’s “Sina Mali Sina Deni.” I enjoyed the song so much that I looked up the lyrics along with their English translation, just to see what was being said. To my luck, the song had an incredibly beautiful message, which made me fall in love with it even more.
I encourage you to find English songs in the kind of music that you enjoy. We all have different tastes in musical genres, and luckily, there is an ample supply of English songs for every taste.
There are a lot of ways to discover new music. You could do somethings as straightforward as typing “English jazz” on Google, or you could visit some streaming websites and online radio stations. I have discovered a wealth of new music through jango.com and accuradio.com. They offer a vast range of songs to cater for different moods and musical tastes.
The other option is to look for online radio stations that play specific types of music. Cbn.com for example, specializes in gospel music, while rockradio.com specializes in rock and jazzradio.com offers jazz music (if you want jazz music with lyrics, you will have to look for categories with the word “vocals” in their titles). Once you have found the songs that you like; you can find your own ways of downloading or buying them.
My personal favorite site is SoundCloud. I find it very straightforward and convenient to use. However, searching on SoundCloud is very artist and song specific. I usually go to Jango or Accuradio to discover new artists, then type their names on Soundcloud, to find more songs by them, and artists who make similar sounds. SoundCloud will almost always expose you to artists who make similar sounding music to whatever you are listening to.
The next thing to do would be to get hold of some lyrics. The trick to successful learning is not to learn too much at the same time. When you have found the songs that you like, choose 3 of your favorite, search for their lyrics and print them, or save them on your phone for easy access. Make sure that you have a full understanding of the words in each song, and how they are pronounced, before moving on to the next three.
If you dedicate yourself to doing this for three straight months, you will be amazed at how your vocabulary and pronunciation will improve.