A few weeks ago I wrote about my recommended tips for learning English.
In that blog post I advised learners to listen to songs recorded in English to help develop their English listening skills. In this post I will give you more information and ideas to help you use songs for learning and practising your English.
Why is listening to songs helpful for language learning?
Most people love singing along to their favourite songs, and non-native English speakers often seem to find it easy to remember the words to songs written in English. This could be because:
- for young people especially, songs in English are popular in many countries as part of contemporary language and culture, and this can make them an engaging and motivating way to learn English;
- songs are written in short, easy to remember, sentences;
- songs engage your emotions and senses, helping to make the words easier to remember.
Listening to songs is good way to practise and improve your English listening skills, and if you listen carefully and sing along you can improve your pronunciation.
Songs are a good source of natural and creative language use, often with idiomatic expressions and slang.
What do you think? Do you find it easy to learn songs in English? Do you enjoy singing along to your favourite English language song?
How can I use songs to help me learn English?
- When you listen to a song for the first time, think about what it is about. Is it telling a story? Is it a love song? Is it about a person, an event in history, or a political opinion?
- Listen to the song and try and write some of the words you can hear, and then check your words with the actual words. LyricsMode is a good site for finding the lyrics for your favourite songs.
- For unfamiliar words, try and understand their meaning from the song, or the other words around them, then look up their meaning in your dictionary
- Listen to the song many times and listen to the way the words are pronounced. Can you hear an accent? Can you hear any rhyming words? Practise singing the song. You could try recording your singing and then listening to your pronunciation 🙂
- Which aspects of English grammar can you identify? For example, which phrasal verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs and verb tenses can you hear?
If you are able to watch YouTube videos in your country, the Lyrics Training site could be a useful and fun site for learning English with songs. Learners watch a video, listen to the song, and type the correct song words in the blank spaces on the transcript below the video. At the end of the song you are awarded points for your correct words and how quickly you completed the transcript.
You can choose the level of English you want to try, and you can search the site for your favourite artist or song.
The images in music videos can help you understand the meaning of the words in the songs, although sometimes you might it difficult to concentrate on the words of the songs when you are watching the video for the first time.
For advanced level learners, and teachers
The study into The Use of Music in Learning Languages by Jon Weatherford Stansell is very interesting:
Music codes words with heavy emotional and contextual flags, evoking a realistic, meaningful, and cogent environment, and enabling students to have positive attitudes, self-perceptions, and cultural appreciation so they can actively process new stimuli and infer the rules of language. The universal element of music can make the artificial classroom environment into a “real” experience and make new information meaningful, bringing interest and order to a classroom.
How do you use songs for learning English? Do you have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them.
Image by :mrMark: