26 Apr 2016

Powerful music!

What’s up everybody??
This week I have another awesome, fun lesson for you with some popular new music: The hit song 7 Years by Lukas Graham.
When you first listen to this song (or if you’ve heard it before), you might be thinking, understanding this native English is really difficult! But guess what? It’s not native English!
That’s right, Lukas Graham is an English learner just like you, and just goes to show you how powerful music is for English fluency! That’s why today, we’ll be using his kick-ass song, 7 Years, to learn some great English vocabulary, expressions, slang, and even pronunciation!
Are you ready? Then let’s jump in, aww yeah!

(Vocabulary in blue, pronunciation in red, cultural notes + grammar in green)
Once I was seven years old my mama told me
Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely
Once I was seven years old
It was a big big world, but we thought we were bigger
Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker
By eleven smoking herb and drinking burning liquor
Never rich so we were out to make that steady figure
Once I was eleven years old my daddy told me
Go get yourself a wife or you’ll be lonely
Once I was eleven years old
I always had that dream like my daddy before me
So I started writing songs, I started writing stories
Something about that gloryjust always seemed to bore me
‘Cause only those I really love will ever really know me
Once I was 20 years old, my story got told
Before the morning sun, when life was lonely
Once I was 20 years old
I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure
‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major
I got my boys with me at least those in favor
And if we don’t meet before I leave, I hope I’ll see you later
Once I was 20 years old, my story got told
I was writing about everything, I saw before me
Once I was 20 years old
Soon we’ll be 30 years old, our songs have been sold
We’ve traveled around the world and we’re still roaming
Soon we’ll be 30 years old
I’m still learning about life
My woman brought children for me
So I can sing them all my songs
And I can tell them stories
Most of my boys are with me
Some are still out seeking glory
And some I had to leave behind
My brother I’m still sorry
Soon I’ll be 60 years old, my daddy got 61
Remember life and then your life becomes a better one
made the man so happy when I wrote a letter once
I hope my children come and visit, once or twice a month
Soon I’ll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold
Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me
Soon I’ll be 60 years old
Soon I’ll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold
Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me
Soon I’ll be 60 years old
Once I was seven years old, my mama told me
Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely
Once I was seven years old


Vocabulary + Expressions

push yourself to the limitPush (someone) to the limit – To make someone use their full capacity or capabilities (Ex: Running the marathon pushed him to his limit, but he was successful!)
Smoking herb – Smoking marijuana
Liquor – Alcohol
Make a steady figure – to make a reliable income
Glory – High honor gained from a notable achievement
Make it major – To be very successful, often famous
My boys – 1. A way to talk about your close (male) friends. 2. One’s sons (Ex.1 I’m going to a party with my boys, Ex.2 My boys are 4 and 8 years old)
Be in favor – To support a decision or cause
Everything I saw before me – Everything that I saw happening in front of me
Roam – To move about or travel aimlessly
My woman – My wife (This phrase could be seen as offensive in English, especially to feminists)
Leave (someone) behind – To abandon someone
The man – I believe that here Lukas Graham is referring to his father. We use the expression my/the old man to refer to our dad


made in denmarkLukas Graham is Danish, and if you hear him speak, you might notice a typicalScandinavian accent. However, you would never know this when he sings as he sounds British or American. He pronunces some sounds in a British way (like the r’s), and other sounds like an American. So I would highly recommend using this song to improve your pronunciation whether you’re learning British or American English.
Singing is an excellent way to improve your pronunciation, as it helps you learn the rhythm and flow of the language. Much of the pronunciation indicated is connected speech, or how native speakers shrink and link words together. Music that is rhythmic and rap are great for learning to implement this (like 7 years).
Once I – one-sai
Pushing each other – pushin’ ee-chuther
Drinking burning liquor – drinkin’ burnin’ lih-ka
Get yourself – geh-chor self
Started writing – Star-did wry-hin (Writing has a stop T)
About that glory – abouthah glow-ree (Two more examples of stop T’s)
Just always – Jus-tall weez
Twenty – tweh-nee
Those in favor – tho-zin fay-vuh
Make it major – may-kit may-ja
And if we – ah-nif we
Later – lay-da
Thirty – Thur-dee (NOTE: Easy trick to not confuse 30 and 13–30 has a flap T  sound, similar to D, 13 has a regular t sound)
Songs have been – song-zuv been
Traveled around – travel duh-round
I can – ai-kin (Pronunciation of can in English)
Most of – mos-tuv
Sixty – six-dee
Had to – had-tuh
My brother – ma-bruh-tha
Better – beh-da
Made the man – may-thuh man
Wrote a letter once – ro-duh leh-dur wuns (Two more examples of flap T’s)
Will I – Wih-lai

Lot of – lodda

Grammar + Cultural Notes

I was 7 years old – Remember in English that we use the verb to beto talk about someone’s age (Ex. How old are you? I am 21 years old. I was 16 years old when I learned to drive a car. I will be 40 years old next year)
By eleven – In English, it is common to leave off the “years old” when talking about age (Ex. My son is 12. He died at 90. You will be 52 by the time she graduates high school.)
Smoking herb – 1. With verbs that end with –ing we often omit the g sound, so smoking becomes smokin’. 2. Herb’s pronunciation differs in American and British English: American – urb, British – hurb 
My daddy got 61 – Here you’ll see a grammatical error, where the verb to be isn’t used with age. This is not because Lukas Graham is not a native speaker, but rather it is colloquial (albeit incorrect) to use got with age. Even native speakers DON’T always use correct grammar, so don't feel bad if you make mistakes.
Make Learning FUN
When learning another language, motivation is a HUGE key to success, and making the process fun is one of the best ways to stay motivated. So if you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend you check out some of our other fun lessons (links below), AND our popular course, Fluent with Friends, which makes learning fun and powerful with the TV show Friends (which has been scientifically proven to be one of the best resources for learning English).
Another awesome way to stay motivated is by surrounding yourself with people who support your learning, and making friends with whom you can practice your English. 
Enjoy this lesson and want more like it? Have any clips or songs you’d like me to break down? 

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