Learn English with Music: Hello by Adele

Adele’s new song, Hello, is number 1 all over the world. But do you understand what she’s singing about?

Even if you do get the basic meaning, have you caught all of the interesting expressions that she uses?

And last, are you using music like this to help you improve your pronunciation and sound more like a native speaker?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, then you’re missing a great learning opportunity! But luckily I have a great lesson for you today! We’re going to learn with the world’s most popular song, Hello.

Here’s how to maximize your learning: (1) Listen to the song (especially if you’re not familiar with it), (2) Read the lyrics, (3) Check new vocabulary, expressions, and pronunciation below, (4) Take it to the next level improving your pronunciation with singing and exercises!

There is a short quiz at the end, so remember to test your learning!

Song with Lyrics:

Like learning with music and TV shows? Check out Fluent with Friends!

Lyrics:

(Vocabulary in blue, pronunciation in red, cultural notes + grammar in green)

Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya, but I ain’t done much healing

Hello, can you hear me?
I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be
When we were younger and free
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles

Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart
Anymore

Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry
I hope that you’re well
Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?

It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time

[Chorus x2]

 

Notes:

Vocabulary + Expressions

Go over (something) – review, revise. Ex. Would you mind going over my essay and checking for mistakes?

Time heals all wounds – expression meaning that with time pain (especially emotional) disappears. Ex. Don’t worry, you’ll get over your ex-girlfriend, time heals all wounds.

Ain’t – This is slang for “is not.” It’s very common in colloquial English, even though it is grammatically incorrect. Ex. I ain’t going to go to his party, I’m too tired. 

The world falls at one’s feet – (BrE.) to be extremely successful. Ex. The world fell at her feet after she acted in that movie. 

At least – at the minimum. Ex. We might not be rich, but at least we have our health. 

Break (sb’s) heart – to devastate someone emotionally, especially when in love. Ex. She broke my heart when she left me and moved to New York.

Tear (sb) apart – To cause someone many problems emotionally. Ex. Losing my job tore me apart.

Make it out – to escape Ex. They made it out of the building right before the explosion. 

Run out of time – to have the time allotted to something end. Ex. We need to hurry up and get to the store before the sale ends, we’re running out of time! 

Pronunciation

(Note: Connected speech – a secret of native pronunciation is that often times we shrink and link our words. We do not always pronounce Every. Single. Word. And this is clearly exemplified in music.)

IPA-chart-adeleIf after – Ih-faf-tur

Time’s supposed to – Time zuh-pos-tuh

Ain’t – Ainh

Can – Kin (Learn more about pronunciation of can)

Used to be – Use-tuh be

Forgotten – for-gaw-din (Note: Adele is British, but sometime she uses an American T. Learn more here)

Between us – be-twee-nus

Called a thousand – call-duh thousand

That I’ve done – tha-dive dun

Matter – Ma-dur

Doesn’t – duzzin

Typical of me – typical-uh-me

That you’re – tha-chur

Did you ever – dih-ju ever

Out of that town – oudda-thah town

Cultural Notes + Grammar

Hello, it’s me – This is a very common way to greet on the telephone, showing that Adele is supposed to be talking to someone on the phone in this song. For a more casual conversation we might say, “Hi, it’s name.”. More greetings here.

It don’t matter – You might have noticed Adele didn’t conjugate correctly here. It’s very colloquial to say, ‘It don’t matter’ instead of ‘it doesn’t matter’. Native speakers DON’T always use correct grammar, so don’t feel bad if you make mistakes.

Listen Again

QUIZ: Test your knowledge! 

Improve your pronunciation

AdeleMusic is an AMAZING way to improve your pronunciation, and Hello is a good song to mimic because of Adele’s clear pronunciation. The reason music is such a great tool to improve pronunciation is (1) Because it amplifies the natural flow of the spoken language, and (2) It forces us to exaggerate individual sounds when we sing, so we train the articulative muscles in our mouth to better pronounce them.

I’ve already given you a head start with the pronunciation tips in this article, but if you really want to take it to the next level, sing along with Adele every time you hear this song! Ready for some more advanced exercises? Try this.

And always remember to put what you’re learning into practice! One of the best places to do this is the supportive community on the RealLife Global Network.

Speak English NOW!

What’s your favorite song for learning English? What popular song or video would you like me to break down? Let us know in the comments below!

Enjoy this? Also read: 

Please take the quiz WITHOUT looking at the article. This is based solely on what you’ve learned, so do not cheat!

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19 Comments

  1. wesley batista on December 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    This is great guys! Keep up the awesome work!!!

  2. Marcos on December 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    What about rap? There are a lot of slang and things really hard to a non native speaker. I recommend you to teach us how to sing “I’m not afraid- Eminem”

  3. Welisson on December 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Hello Ethan, in this site, is there more article like this? So, i think it so funny and amazing, mainly your tips about the pronunciation like a native, to learn. i’ve been studdying this sound for 3 weeks.

  4. Maestro Nativo Del Idioma Ingl on December 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Nice work! This is really refreshing.. just the kind of thing I´ve been looking for to share with my students. I think we´re all bored of the typical robotic grammar that you see in text books. Thank you.

    P.S Ain´t is a really flexible little wordand is used to replace many negative forms of contractions..

    Ain´t= Am not; are not; is not:
    if it ain’t broke, don’t fix itI ain´t seen you around here before.
    Has not; have not:they ain’t got nothing to say

    • Ethan on December 20, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for also giving that extra info about ‘ain’t’ 😉

  5. francodevi on December 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Dear Ethan, I am a beginner of English. Your quiz gave me a big headache, however, it is worth it. Adele is BEAUTIFUL and sings divinely.”Te saluto! (in Italian= by by)

    • Ethan on December 20, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you Franco! Glad to hear it helped. Grazi 🙂

  6. […] Learn English with Hello by Adele […]

  7. Horacio on January 4, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Hi, Ethan! I’ve really enjoyed the lesson. The quiz was very fun, and it’s always a pleasure listening to Adele. Please keep posting articles like this, they’re great! Oh, and Happy New Year!

    • Ethan on January 24, 2016 at 3:02 am

      Thanks Horacio! I’ve just posted a new one, so check it out 🙂

  8. Valmir Crensiglova on March 12, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Thanks for tour it is very importante for US

  9. Peanutbutter Flint on March 27, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Actually, when you said that ‘Hello, it’s me’ falls under grammar I disagree slightly. After a linking verb (in this case ‘it is’) there must be a predicate noun. However, ‘me’ is and object pronoun. I think it should be ‘Hello, it’s I’. Sorry of this sounds kind of picky, and correct me if i’m wrong.

    • Ethan on March 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I don’t believe you’re wrong, but native speakers rarely if ever would say, “Hello, it’s I.” It sounds too formal (some people would even find it funny saying it that way). The correct collocation is “Hello, it’s me,” just like how Adele says it.

  10. […] Learn English with Music: Hello by Adele […]

  11. Valmir Crensiglova on January 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    You are my incentivator for to learning english by myself, after i listened your audios and to watching your videos my english got better

    • Ethan on January 23, 2017 at 4:08 am

      Hey Valmir, that’s so kind of you to say. I’m so glad that our work is helping you! Keep up the good work, you’re kicking ass 😉

  12. Hermenegildo Gonhamo on February 28, 2017 at 8:55 am

    So what! I can’t see a thing!

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