The Beatles’ English Course: Songs to Learn English According to Your Level

Uno dei modi più divertenti ed efficaci per imparare una lingua è aggiungere ritmo e melodia. Ti proponiamo un breve corso di inglese composto da alcune delle canzoni più conosciute dei Beatles: non riuscirai a smettere di canticchiarle!

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Sarah Davison

Speaker (UK accent)

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According to a 2014 survey, The Beatles are the very best band to help you learn English. This isn’t surprising, given their catchy tunes and their easy-to-follow lyrics. There are examples of all uses of grammar and a wide range of vocabulary included in the more than two hundred songs that the band recorded in less than a decade. Below, we have listed twelve of their best-known and most accessible songs, although even their more complex songs have some language in them that is easy to understand.

A2 - Pre-Intermediate:

Yellow Submarine

A children’s favourite, the theme from the 1967 cartoon of the same name is largely in the past simple, using common regular and irregular verbs. The opening line has an important phrase for this level: “I was born”.

A2 - Pre-Intermediate:

Here Comes the Sun

George Harrison’s 1969 song of hope has just thirty-six distinct words and is largely in the present simple, with some examples of the present perfect. It also features other important aspects of English grammar, such as adjectives and word order.

B1 - Lower Intermediate:

A Hard Day’s Night 

Inspired by a throwaway comment by drummer Ringo Starr, this 1964 song was written for the first Beatles film. It is an ideal introduction to the present perfect (both simple and continuous forms) and present continuous with the modal ‘should’ andthe idioms “working like a dog” and “sleeping like a log”. 

B1 - Lower Intermediate: 

Yesterday

Essentially a Paul McCartney solo song (the other Beatles are not on the track), this 1965 song opens with a comparison between the past and the present. It uses the adverb ‘suddenly’ and the phrases ‘to look as though’, meaning to seem, and ‘to long for (something)’, meaning to wish for something.

B2 - Upper Intermediate: 

Hey Jude

Paul McCartney’s song of encouragement to John Lennon’s son is ideal for practising imperatives, both positive and negative. It uses the narrative style, the comparative, the passive, and the confusable phrase. “You were made to” here means ‘you were created’ (do something) rather than ‘to be forced’. 

B2 - Upper Intermediate

Penny Lane

A reminiscence of the Liverpool of The Beatles’ youth, this 1967 single (a double A-side with Strawberry Fields Forever) famously did not hit the top spot in the UK, stalling at number 2. It has examples of ‘there is’, a lexical set of jobs and occupations.   

C1 - Advanced

Eleanor Rigby

This 1966 song is the story of two fictional characters, both suffering from loneliness. It is almost completely in the present simple, and analysing the imagery and metaphors used is a good exercise for advanced learners.

C1 - Advanced

With a Little Help from my Friends

Famously covered by Joe Cocker, this song begins with a perfect example of the second conditional and also features the zero conditional (“What do I do when my love is away?” can be rewritten as “When my love is away, what do I do?”)  The chorus uses the phrasal verb ‘get by’, the idiom ‘get high’ and the future ‘going to’ (here in the colloquial form ‘gonna’) for an intention.

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero february 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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