How to learn English for work with songs

How to learn English for work with songs

  • Business English is boring…
  • These words and grammar make no sense!
  • I fell asleep during my last English course… In every class…


Is this something YOU would say? You’re not alone!

(OK, this is actually Michael Jackson’s song! Remember? “You are not alone”!)


Anyway, lots of my students complain that learning Business English is boring. And I agree – it is! But you can learn English for work in a fun way – from pop songs, rock songs, metal songs, rap songs – whichever songs you like! Let me show you how – in nine simple steps.

And if you want to see how it all works in practice – come to my live online class “English for work with songs” on Monday, February 8th!

Ta lekcja jest dostępna także jako podcast i filmik. Hura!

Step 1. Choose a song you like. 

This step in crucial ( = very important). My method is all about having fun – and learning more easily as a result. If you choose a music genre ( = type of music) you don’t like, or a singer you hate, it makes no sense (be careful here, it MAKES no sense. In Polish we say “nie ma sensu” and in English “nie robi sensu”).

So, choose something you enjoy listening to! In my classes, these will be pop and rock songs from the 90s – because that was the time when I was a teenager, and listened to music a lot. So these songs are for me a trip down memory lane ( = nostalgiczna podróż w przeszłość).


Step 2. Listen for gist ( = general meaning)

The second step is to listen to the whole song, or part of it, and try to figure out ( = wykombinować) what the song is about. What story does it tell? What people are in it? What are they doing?

In most songs today, these will probably be two people unhappily in love, but in the 90s we had plenty of songs with more complex ( = złożone) storylines!

So let me show you how this works. Listen to this bit of a song by Shania Twain and think what the main idea is.

So, what was the song about? Your answer might be that the singer is not happy with the world today. That’s it! You don’t need more, you don’t need details, you don’t need to understand everything. Understanding 10% is more than enough!


Step 3. Figure out the lyrics ( = słowa piosenki)

This is first of all a listening task. You can do it the hard way, writing down the lyrics from scratch ( = od zera). But in my classes we do it the easy way. I show you the lyrics of one verse ( = zwrotka; nie, nie wers. “Wers” to “line”. Tak, wiem, wszyscy się temu dziwią…). So, I show you the lyrics for one verse with one or two wrong words – and you have to listen and correct the wrong words. Easy and fun!

So have a look at the ready lyrics for the first verse: 

We live in a greedy little world,
That teaches every little boy and girl
To earn as much as they can possibly,
Then turn around and spend it foolishly.


Step 4. Vocabulary

Find out ( = dowiedz się) the meanings of new words. And how to use them. In my classes, you always get a definition in English, a translation into Polish, and some examples in sentences. Words without example sentences are useless – you have to know how to use them in context.

In our example, the first line has the word “greedy.” This means “wanting more money, things or power than you need.” In Polish: chciwy, zachłanny. For example:

       Donald Trump was really greedy for power.

       There are too many greedy people in the world.

       My brother is greedy and doesn’t want to share his cat with me. 😉

Step 5. Use the words to talk about your work!

This is the personalisation step that I talked about in my last week’s lesson. Uses of “greedy” about your job could be:

       My boss is really greedy. He never shares the company profits with us.

       Some might say I’m greedy, but I really deserve a pay rise ( = podwyżka).

       The mission of our company is to promote minimalism, and that entails ( = zawiera) showing greedy consumers how to live on less.

In my classes, you can type these sentences in the written chat if you’re shy. Or you can use your microphone and actually say them aloud. In both cases, you’ll get my feedback on whether you’re using them correctly.


Step 6. Figure out the grammar

If we make our song fragment more compact, we get:

“Our world teaches kids to earn a lot and spend a lot.”

And here we have the word “teach,” with the tricky grammar that goes with it. Remember, it’s “teach somebody to do something,” not “teach somebody to doing,” or “teach to do of somebody,” or other variations. Poles have a problem with this structure.


Step 7. Use the grammar to talk about your work!

Uses of “teach somebody to do something” about your work might be:

       My line manager taught me to do my job well.

       I will have to teach a new person to use Excel.

       Can you teach me how to calculate those KPIs?


Again, in my classes you say them or type them, and get feedback whether you’re using that grammar correctly.

Step 8. Listen again for fun and satisfaction

Relish ( = ciesz się) the feeling of understanding everything! You’ve earned it ( = zasłużyłaś sobie)! Sing if you want! I love singing, although I’m terrible at it…


Step 9. Revise

If you don’t revise, you forget 90% of what you’ve learnt. So revising is a must! Choose whichever method works for you.

After my classes, you get a handout ( = karta pracy) with everything you’ve learnt. Ready for you to revise at any time!

And if you want to see how it all works in practice – come to my live online class

“English for work with songs” on Monday, February 8th!

And the best thing – it costs only 37 zlotys! You’ll find the sign-up link below!

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