Belmont International English

Songs

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"I want to go home.
I want to go home.
I feel so break-up, I want to go home."
 
       No one who has heard Harry Belafonte's Jamaican Farewell ever has to wonder if want is followed by a gerund or an infinitive.  The language in songs somehow seems to imprint more than does spoken language.

     I use songs very frequently as a pleasant way to begin the day, or to make a certain point.  I have collected over a hundred songs,  each with written lyrics.  I always give out the written lyrics whenever I use a song. 
 
      There is no good practical way for me to share these songs with you, but you will certainly want to build up your own library.  At first, I put them on cassette tapes, and some that I have recorded from old vinyl LP's (remember those?) are still on tapes, but almost all are now on a little hand held storage device.  I use Wal-Mart's music download website, because my storage device is generic, but many people like the iPod and iTunes or Napster or other sites. 
 
       It is easy these days to find lyrics on line.  I no longer have to play a tape over and over, trying to understand and transcribe lyrics.
 
      Of course, older songs are generally easier to understand than newer ones.  Nat "King" Cole, Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra, and many of their generation had excellent pronunciation.
 
      Ballads are fun.  I like El Paso, and Big John because they have good stories. 
 
      I use some songs because they belong to American folklore.  John Henry, The Battle of New Orleans, and others are in this category.
 
      I want everyone to understand the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner.  (I wonder how many young Americans can explain all the lyrics.)
 
      Whether or not to use songs is a personal choice, and the choice of the songs themselves is also very personal.  I like to use them and find them useful. 
 
Try it.

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