This guest post comes from our friend Alice Morell, who is a professional musician, dancer, and blogger at My Music Box. You can find Alice on Twitter @AliceMorell.
Music is all about spectacle, no matter what culture you’re in. It pushes boundaries, changes perceptions, and challenges the status quo. The best music makes us think, makes us feel, and reminds us that the way things are is not the way things always have to be. It speaks to some of our more basic instincts, and the part of us that refuses to be just another copy of the cultural standard. These elements are vitally important in any culture, keeping it evolving and flexible, and helping to prevent cultural stagnation. All of these elements of music are put forth to the listener through the artist’s voice.
Language finds its ultimate expression through music, where emotion and vitality are transmitted through the power of the singer’s voice. It’s an aspect of culture that is with us from the very beginning, when we first start learning the alphabet, and carries on with us through all aspects of learning language. Most everyone, at some time in their lives, has had to write poetry in school, and it is a hallmark of the angsty teenager to write poems expressing this time of change. In the case of Lady Gaga, she used it to challenge the world to tell her to change, just so she could spit in its eye.
Learning a Foreign Language Through Music
Popular Songs Use Repetition and Catchy Hooks to Help You Learn
The first song we’ll be working with today speaks of a woman who isn’t letting you know what she’s thinking, and is using that to her advantage. Part of Lady Gaga’s image in the musical culture, is an element of flowing mystery. Is she really this wild? Is she just doing it for attention? Does she have an agenda? You’ll never know, because no one is as skilled at keeping their “Poker Face” as Lady Gaga. This song is fun to sing, and has an upbeat rhythm that will keep you singing along as you learn English with Lady Gaga. It’s decidedly repetitive, emphasizing the creative use of certain phonemes (the base sound structures of language) during the chorus.
The second song carries with it an important lesson that’s central to Lady Gaga’s image and the songs she writes that emphasize her personal view of life. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where everything is trying to go wrong, or people are trying to turn you into something you’re not. In the face of these circumstances, don’t succumb to it, instead “Just Dance!” Some of the best elements of this song are the quick stops where it lets a word hang, emphasizing it to aid in memory. The majority of the words are incredibly clear, with a few sections where it speeds up. This will aid you in recognizing English words in cases where it may not be exactly clear, but overall this is an excellent song to learn from!
Following this theme in her music, the next song we’ll be talking about emphasizes how it’s not necessary to be like everyone else, and how we’re all different. There is a strong message in this tone that everyone is alright just the way they are, because the world is made beautiful by precious variety. In the end, be proud of who you are, and don’t be afraid to be different, you were just “Born This Way!” This song is a bit challenging with its driving beat and somewhat faster pace, but with practice it’ll come much easier to you!
The path to speaking a language like a native is a long and arduous one, but artists like Lady Gaga can make learning it ever so much more fun. So pick up the language, meet the challenge, and express yourself, in English! Learning English is a lot easier with music [and Brainscape is a great supplement]!
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