All the A’s in Japan

English would be easy, but boring, if its 5 vowels sounded the same every single time they appeared.

Watch Big in Japan by Alphaville. Can you hear the difference between the first in Japan and the second a in Japan?

Could you hear the difference? The second a sounds like this. The first is a schwa sound. It’s the most common vowel sound in English and it sounds like this. Look here and here to see some other vowels that make a schwa sound.

Listen to the a in alright (1.17). Does it sound like the other two? Or does it sound like this?

Remember: English vowel sounds vary. A lot. You can’t make do by learning just one a sound and using it every time you have to sing an a. That won’t work. Trust your ears and work from what you hear.

If English isn’t your first language: it’s encouraging when you realise that the singer, Marian Gold, is German, not English.  His German accent is quite strong when he speaks English, but he loses it when he sings. He sings like a native speaker of English.

I’d say Marian Gold keeps English close to his heart. He says:

I’m an Anglophile. I love British culture and I love the English language. I feel at home in it, even though it’s not my native tongue. There’s so much that you can express so much cooler than in say French, Italian or German. Those are great languages too, but I think English is the most fascinating. Just think of how Richard Burton sounded in all those films or when reciting Shakespeare. You can’t do that in any other language. ” 

The whole interview is here.

© Sing Better English, 2014

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