English Listening: Deal With It Using Music

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Deal with: handle, cope with, manage

Improve English Listening with Music

Do you have a hard time understanding native speakers? Songs are a great way to deal with the task of learning English and improve your listening (and pronunciation!) skills. Listening to music helps train your ear to the rhythm of English.

Idiom: Kill two birds with one stone

Kill two birds with one stone (solve two problems with one solution) by improving both your mood and your English with this upbeat song!

English listening doesn’t need to be boring or difficult. Sneak out of your boring TOEIC class, put your headphones on or your AirPods in, and sing along to Ed Sheeran and Justin Beiber’s new song “I Don’t Care.” Just kidding! Stay in class, but make time for music too!

Music Provides Repetition and Aids Memory

Repetition helps you remember new vocabulary words. Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s song “I Don’t Care” is pretty easy to understand, so it’s a good choice as you won’t be struggling too much to make sense of the lyrics. I’ll help you with a few vocabulary words below! You’ve already previewed 2 of them above (deal with and sneak out)!

Improve English Listening (and Pronunciation!): Learn Contractions and Reductions

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One reason native speakers are difficult to understand is their use of reductions and other forms of connected speech. Contractions are also used a lot in daily speech. Using them will help you sound more natural when you speak English. Sounding more natural will make your speech easier to understand. You’ll hear and see 11 examples. Below, you’ll find explanations of the vocabulary, contractions, and reductions that you’ll hear in the song.

For an informative video on why English listening is difficult, check out the 3 main reasons at Espresso English.

Levels of Formality in English

As you might guess, this song contains informal English, such as contractions. Contractions are very common in spoken English. They are used in both semi-formal and informal English. For more information about when to use (and not use) contractions, check out the video: Formal, Semi-Formal, and Informal English. It includes a very informative 12-page PDF download with explanations and vocabulary.

I Don’t Care Lyrics with Side-by-Side Explanation

*Note: Lyrics below go until minute 1:38 in the video.

I'm at a party I don't wanna be at.
And I don't ever wear a suit and tie.
Wondering if I can sneak out the back
Nobody's even looking at me in my eye.
And then you take my hand, finish my drink, say, "Shall we dance?"
Hell, yeah!
Y' know I love ya, did I ever tell you?
You make it better like that.

Vocabulary

sneak out: leave without anyone noticing

Contractions and Reductions

  • I’m = I am
  • don’t = do not
  • wanna = want to
  • Nobody’s = Nobody is
  • Y’ know = You know
  • ya = you

Don't think I fit in at this party.
Everyone's got so much to say, yeah.
I always feel like I'm nobody.
Who wants to fit in anyway?

Vocabulary

fit in: belong, be socially compatible with a group

Contraction

Everyone’s = Everyone has (same meaning with or without got, but using the contraction + got is more informal)

*Depending on the context, Everyone’s can = everyone is.

Coz I don't care - when I'm with my baby yeah.
All the bad things disappear.
And you making me feel that maybe I am somebody.
I can deal with the bad nights when I'm with my baby yeah (ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!)
Coz I don't care,
As long as you just hold me near.
You can take me anywhere, and you making me feel like I'm loved by somebody.
I can deal with the bad nights when I'm with my baby yeah (ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!)

Vocabulary

deal with: handle, cope with, manage

If you can’t deal with something, then you struggle and have difficulty handling it. To handle has the same meaning as to deal with or cope with or manage something.

*Scroll to bottom for a sample conversation using deal with.

Reduction

Coz = because

We at a party we don't wanna be at.
Trying to talk but we can't hear ourselves.
Read your lips - I'd rather kiss 'em right back.
With all these people all around, I'm crippled with anxiety.
But I'm told it's where I'm supposed to be.
You know what? It's kind of crazy coz I really don't mind
When you make it better like that.

Vocabulary

crippled with: unable to function well

This is a figurative use of cripple and gives us the feeling that someone is frozen and unable to take action due to whatever word follows it. Collocations include: anxiety, fear, depression, grief, debt

Note: It is offensive to use the word cripple to talk about people with physical or mental disabilities. Some people don’t like hearing or using the word in any context.

Contractions and Reductions

  • I’d = I would
  • em = them (In this case, it refers to “your lips”)
  • it’s = it is (refers to the party)

Note: Depending on the context, it’s can = it has.

Note: There are a few instances where the helping verb are is omitted in the song: You ____ making me feel. and We ____ at a party. Songs, like poems, do not always follow the rules of grammar.

Discussion Questions for Vocabulary Building

  1. What are some other places or events people sneak out of?
  2. Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? How did you deal with it?
  3. What are some things that people do in order to fit in?
  4. What situations can cripple someone with anxiety?
  5. What are some ways to deal with anxiety?

Bonus: Sample Conversation Between Two Coworkers

Context: B looks stressed out and A is concerned. They know each other well and have gone out for drinks many times after work.

A: Hey, how’s it going? Is everything okay?
B: Actually, no. I have a lot on my plate at the moment. I have a deadline to meet, and I still have a lot of work to do. Plus, my wife is sick and needs me to help out with the kids.
A: That is a lot to manage. Is there anything I can do to help?
B: Thanks for asking, but no, it’s all stuff I need to deal with myself.
A: Okay. If you’re sure there’s nothing I can do…I’m gong to sneak outside for a cigarette. I’ll check back with you later.
B: I’m sure. I’ll talk to you later.

Recommended Course

If you’ve been searching for a comprehensive and effective listening course that will improve your English listening skills, check out this Espresso English listening course.

English Listening Course

Sample English Listening Lesson

If you want a comprehensive English listening lesson, check out this excellent free lesson on Creative Work Environments. It includes vocabulary, transcripts, and lots of audio at both a slower and faster speed.

Never stop learning!

– Trey

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