Improve Your Pronunciation With Rap Music

luv rap 1One of the hardest aspects of learning a new language is speaking with clear and correct pronunciation.

A lot of language learners focus all their attention on learning all the necessary vocabulary and grammatical structures, but they often forget about focusing their attention on having correct pronunciation.

I believe that learning pronunciation is just as important as learning all these other elements of a language, if not more. Don’t wait until you are more advanced to focus on pronunciation! Your speaking habits are formed from the beginning, so make them count.

Think about it like this – language is nothing more than a structured set of sounds, that when reproduced in a specific order, represent actions (verbs), names and objects (nouns), description of these objects (adjectives), and much more.

So now that you are imagining that language is just a set of sounds, let’s think about sounds in the form of music.

When listening to someone singing, or playing an instrument, all the musical notes produced have to be in key in order to be understood, or appreciated by the person listening to the song. If the performer sings out of key you can still understand the song, but it doesn’t sound as good.

This same ideology can be implemented in spoken English. Instead of musical notes, language has what we call phonetics, which are all the different sounds of a language. Focus on learning and speaking English as if you were learning to sing a song in key. All the sounds should be in the correct order to be appreciated/understood by the person who is listening to you speak.

How Can I Start Improving My English With This?

The problem most English learners have is that teachers generally don’t focus on this aspect of the pronunciation until the student is already at an advanced level.

The best way to focus on the phonetics of language is what’s called “The Mimic Method,” developed by Idahosa Ness. This method is based on a “listen and repeat” exercise which is best done by imitating rap musicians, or other styles.

Rap music is a preferred way to familiarize yourself with the phonetics of a language because it is so similar to spoken English. Your main focus in doing this exercise should be to find songs which consist of specific sounds that are common in your target language. If you don’t want to use a rap song, I suggest you choose a song which has a catchy [something that is easy to remember] chorus that uses rhyming words which consist of the sounds you wish to improve.

Sound Morphing

snoop-dogg-jeff-ridlenAnother huge benefit that you can get from using rap music to improve your pronunciation is that you will start to morph sounds. Sound Morphing is what is going to make your English start to flow and sound much more fluent, like that of a native.

Read RealLife article about sound morphing with gonna, wanna, gotcha.

Sound morphing is when we join many words together in a phrase so it seems like we are saying just one word. Native speakers do this naturally, which makes it very hard for language learners to pick up on every word that the speaker is saying.

If you’re an advanced speaker or if you have learned with music, you may have already started doing this naturally with some of the more common sound links. For example:

  • Did you? – Dju?
  • Don’t you – Donchew/ Dontcha
  • I have got to – I hafta

In rap music, you are going to hear these kinds of sound morphs not only with these more common examples, but with nearly every sentence that they use. Being conscious of this is going to help you decipher exactly what the rapper is saying and help you to start applying this into your spoken English. You are going to be flowing in no time!

5 songs to get you started 

Today I am going to present you with five rap songs which I often use with my students. I know that it is really difficult to remember an entire rap song, as they tend to be really long and use a lot of slang, so I generally use these songs because they have a repetitive chorus.

It’s time to start working on our rhyming skills and remember, repeat, repeat, and then repeat again.

1. Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5 

Listen to song

Let’s take you back to the concrete streets
Original beats with real live mc’s
Playground tactics
No rabbit in a hat tricks
Just that classic
Rap shit from Jurassic

2. Drink, Drank, Drunk – Drapht

Listen to song

Drink drank drunk, the room starts to spin looking like ghost with see through skin,
Drink drank drunk, getting outta hand on top of the world thinking I’m the man,
Drink and drank till my legs don’t work over a hundred ladies have said I was a jerk,
Drink and drank I’m hitting the bottle had waking up in the morning no cash no cards

3. No Handlebars – Flobots

Listen to song

Look at me, look at me
Hands in the air like its good to be
Alive and I’m a famous rapper
Even when the paths are all crookedy
I can show you how to dosey doe
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control

4. Thrift Shop – Macklemore

Listen to song

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a come-up
This is fucking awesome

 5. The King Is Dead – The Herd

Listen to song

Finally the King is Dead,
We cried off with his head
Everything must change, Everything must change
We danced like new year’s eve
We danced from relief
Everything must change, nothing stays the same
Nothing stays the same oh, Nothing stays the same oh

These songs are just suggestions based on songs that I have used with some of my students. Now you need to focus on your English and your specific needs.

A good way to test your own English flow is by recording your own voice and critically analyzing your pronunciation. Once you have analyzed your own voice, think of the SOUNDS that you are having difficulty pronouncing, find a part of a song that uses this sound a lot, then repeat, repeat, and repeat again.

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12 Comments

  1. Has Nirwana on December 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    i will try it

  2. Has Nirwana on December 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    i will try it

  3. Vina Alisha on December 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Let's start sist…

  4. Wallace on December 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Nice one Chad
    Since 2012 when i just started to learn english i had the feelings to learn english with music and i started to learn english with songs my first song was too hard to sing because i couldn’t follow the singer while she was singing and i didn’t know all the words and either the pronunciation after 3 weeks trying to sing i finally got the song i was able to sing my first song was the best day of my life and on this point i realized that i should keep going and i did that now i know 130 songs without reading the lyrics. So in this month i just changed my mind and i decided to learn rap music because i wanna learn all the words connection and the slangs. just by songs i have been improving my pronunciation a lot so this is an easy and effective way to improve pronuncation.

  5. Idalmir Rodrigues de Araujo on December 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Also you can check up the the references in the lyrics in this site: http://rapgenius.com/

  6. Peter Barzey on December 9, 2013 at 1:40 am

    I thing this is a good way to improve you English

  7. E on December 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I put on eminem and 50cent,can these be useful?

  8. Serigne Khadim Mbacke on March 9, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    that's great songs thank you so much reallife english frorever i got you never

  9. Donny Burgon on April 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Finally, an English teacher who realizes the major benefits of rap music in teaching English to ESL students.

    • Chad Fishwick on April 22, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      Glad you enjoyed Donny!!

  10. ma. bernadette manlapaz on May 25, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Im practicing this but with the song Alphabet Aerobics. so much fun. Thanks ! 😀

  11. Mohamed Abouzid on July 18, 2016 at 10:57 am

    My teacher suggest me rap songs,my accent is like a robot

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