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Susanna Zaraysky Explains How to Learn English through Music
Lindsay: This is an All Ears English Podcast, Episode 98: “Susanna Zaraysky Explains How to Learn English through Music.”
Gabby: Welcome to the All Ears English Podcast, where you’ll finally get real, native English conversation with your hosts, Lindsay McMahon, the ‘English Adventurer’ and Gabby Wallace, the ‘Language Angel,’ from Boston, USA.
In this episode, author, Susanna Zaraysky, shares three practical tips how you can use popular American English music to improve your English and she offers a tip on how to use fun karaoke to improve your English too.
Lindsay: Hey Gabby. How are you doing today?
Gabby: Doing great, Lindsay. How are you?
Lindsay: I’m good. I’m super excited because today we have Susanna Zaraysky and she’s the author of “Language is Music.” She’s here to talk to our listeners about how to use music to improve their English.
Gabby: Hey Susanna. Susanna: Hi.
Lindsay: How are you doing today?
Susanna: I am doing wonderful. I’m doing very well.
Lindsay: We’re excited to have you.
Lindsay: And so what tips could you offer our audience for a way to use music? I think you have three ideas for our audience. Let’s get straight into it. What would be a first tip that you could offer?
Susanna: (Uh) the first thing is to find music that you like and to find lyrics to that music. So (in) the beginning you should really just listen to the music, the songs in English that you, you find enjoyable, and without even trying to decipher them, just enjoy them. Because when you start to use your brain to figure out, “Oh, what’s that word? What’s that word? What’s that word?” you’ve already lost the song. You’re, (you know), because you’re, you’re…
Susanna: What’s that?
Gabby: Just listen.
Susanna: Just listen, yeah. You have to enjoy it and then, after you listen to it, (you know), maybe a couple of times and you’re already starting to pick up on the melody, maybe you’re humming along, then listen for the lyrics and then find the lyrics, (you know), on the internet, or if it’s – you have a CD (uh) box – (you know), they usually have the, the thing there. And, and then compare, like write down the words that you know, that you think you recognize. So as you’re listening to the song, write down the words.
Susanna: And then, (you know), compare it to what the original is and then you can see “Oh, okay. I thought he said ‘red’ but actually he said ‘bed’.”
Lindsay: Oh, interesting. I like that.
Gabby: That’s great.
Lindsay: Do you, do you have any favorite websites where people can find lyrics online?
Susanna: (Um), there’s a website, I think it’s called smartlyrics.net or smartlyrics.com and there’s – then there’s also lyrics.com. The problem with some of these lyrics websites, unfortunately, is that they are, (uh), some of the lyrics are translated (um) or – sorry. They’re, they’re written down by users, they’re not necessarily the original.
Susanna: Yeah. So you (uh) you might have to (uh) look for the song in a couple of different places just to make sure that you, you’re getting the lyrics (uh) because if they’re users writing the lyrics there, they could make mistakes, especially spelling mistakes. Yeah, so that, that’s a good thing, (you know), to look out for.
Gabby: Also, I wanted to share with our listeners if you’re not sure what songs are popular, sometimes I go to the Billboard Top 100 or, (you know), Billboard Top 40 and that’s a great way to just see what are the top songs in North America right now.
Susanna: Yep. Yeah. That’s a good way to do it, yeah.
Lindsay: What do you find are some common songs that students like to use? Are there any patterns in terms of famous songs that students really like?
Susanna: No. (I mean), it, it really varies from person to person. (I mean), some people like the old Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald…
Susanna: …those songs. And actually, to be honest, it – in terms of learning English, the older songs that are slower and are telling a story are much better than the ones that are very fast and the instrumentals are very strong because, if the instrumentals are strong, you can’t hear the lyrics clearly.
So, (you know), if you do like the older songs, they’re wonderful because their pronunciation is usually excellent. They’re not cutting off so many words. They’re, they’re singing slowly but usually telling a story.
Gabby: That’s a good tip.
Lindsay: So I was thinking about the song “Hotel California.” Would that fall into that category, more or less? By the Eagles?
Susanna: Yeah, that is telling a story but, (you know), it’s telling a story of people who were probably drug-induced.
Lindsay: Yeah, exactly.
Gabby: It might not be that easy to follow, but yeah. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, (um) - there’s a lot of old classic singers and I can imagine those songs in my mind just being really nice and slow and clear and, and catchy too.
Susanna: Yes. And, (you know), in terms of modern singers, Adele.
Gabby: Yeah. Susanna: Yes. Wonderful. (You know) U2, (uh), (you know), when Bono’s singing, he sings very clearly and…
Susanna: …usually he’s not that fast when he’s singing. So, (you know), it’s not just songs from fifty or sixty years ago. You can still find modern songs that are like that but, (you know), even if you wanna (want to) go with Lady Gaga.
Susanna: For example, Lady Gaga sings fairly clearly.
Susanna: (You know), there are modern singers you can use, but what you need to stay away from is, are, are – you have to stay away from songs which have a lot of slang, like rap or some hip-hop, because you can find hip-hop and rap which can help you learn English…
Susanna: …but you have to make sure that it’s, that, that it’s not full of derogatory (uh) language and, and slang because then you’re going to be learning incorrect, (you know), improper English which you would not want to use professionally at all.
Gabby: Absolutely. That was a good tip. Okay. So, first, (um) find the music, listen to it, write down what you hear, and then check your listening comprehension by reading those lyrics online. Is that correct?
Gabby: Great. Okay.
Lindsay: Is there one more thing that they could do?
Susanna: Yeah, there (um) – what’s actually really good is you can go on YouTube and find karaoke versions of these songs. So you can listen to the songs and see the lyrics at the same time.
Gabby: Oh cool. I like that idea.
Lindsay: So get the whole body involved. (Mm-hm).
Susanna: What? What’s that?
Lindsayy: You just get your whole body involved and watching people sing and kind of voicing the lyrics, yeah.
Susanna: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good one. (You know), it – to be honest, some of my karaoke (uh) versions are only instrumental, so – because you’re not supposed to be hearing the singer…
Susanna: …you’re supposed to be singing [crosstalk]…
Lindsay: You would sing.
Susanna: Yeah, you’re supposed to be listening. So what, what you might have to do is you might have to sync two different videos at the same: one video that is the original of, of the singer singing the song and then you can turn on the karaoke lyrics at the same time, but turn off the volume on the karaoke lyrics video because you don’t need to hear the instrumental and you’ll see the lyrics on one screen and you’ll hear – (you know), the music is gonna (going to) come from another screen. (Uh), (you know), and you can have two opened at the same time. (Um), that, that’s really good because then you’re seeing the word as you’re hearing it and there was actually research done in India using same-language subtitling for Bollywood films that showed that literacy rates went up in very poor areas in India where people were watching Bollywood movies and listening to Bollywood songs and having the word that they heard (uh) lit up on the screen
Lindsay: Oh. Brilliant.
Gabby: I know…
Susanna: So simple.
Gabby: Yeah. I know from my time living in Japan, well, karaoke’s very popular there and in other Asian countries and when I would go to try to sing Japanese at karaoke, I would see those characters on the screen and that was great practice. So, (you know), for someone learning English, training karaoke is a great…
Gabby: …fun way to become more literate and, and improve your pronunciation.
Gabby: So train karaoke.
Lindsay: That’s great. I had never thought of that idea of using karaoke. Brilliant. I love it.
Susanna: Yep. Well, it’s a lot…
Gabby: Very cool.
Lindsay: Oh, that’s great.
Gabby: Yeah. I love these tips. I think it’s fun and practical.
Lindsay: Yeah. Well, yeah, I think we can pretty much wrap it up there. Thank you so much, Susanna. So can you, (um), let our listeners know where they can find you online?
Susanna: Sure. So my book is called “Language is Music” and you can just type in languageismusic.com or look me up on (uh) YouTube and, and Facebook and, and Twitter. I’m all there with (uh) “The Language is Music” and (uh) my Facebook page is actually under my name, Susanna Zaraysky and the last name is Z-a-r-a-y-s-k-y and I also have a page for my book, “Language is Music.” And the book is available now both in English, it’s, both of it it’s available in English, (uh) Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. So the Spanish name is “El Idioma Es Musica”, the Portuguese is “Idioma é Música”, and the Russian one is totally different. It’s (uh) – actually, it’s funny. I forgot the name of my book. (Please see blog post for the link) something like that.
Susanna: It’s a verb phrase.
Gabby: Oh cool.
Susanna: (Uh), but, (you know), if you find my website, you can find all of those books.
Lindsay: Oh, fantastic. So hopefully our listeners will be able to check that out.
Thank you so much. We’re so happy to have you on today…
Lindsay: …and I think you offered some awesome ideas. Thanks so much, Susanna.
Susanna: Thanks so much for the invitation. Goodbye.
Gabby: Thank you.
Lindsay: Hey guys if you want to learn ten ways to learn English with a podcast, come to our website and get our free e-book at www.allearsenglish.com/free.
Lindsay: If you wanna (want to) put your ears into English more often, be sure to subscribe to our podcast in iTunes on your computer or on your smartphone. Thanks so much for listening and see you next time.
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