The power of music: How to learn English with songs

Woman listening to music

Do you like listening to songs in English? Here's a step-by-step guide to help you learn English with songs.

Music is everywhere. It can make you feel many different emotions and bring you happiness, energy or calm. It can reduce anxiety and depression. It can inspire you and capture your imagination. 

Music is incredibly powerful.

And it can also be an incredibly useful tool for learning English!

Music and memory

You probably know that the words of a song are called 'lyrics'. Some song lyrics are quite basic (She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah …), while others are deep, emotional and thought-provoking. 

Think of the lyrics of one of your favourite songs. They're not difficult to remember, are they?

Studies show that music not only helps us remember old memories. It also helps us to create new ones. 

This is great news for learners of English! 

Music will help you remember words and phrases that you already know, and help you learn new vocabulary and expressions.

A step-by-step guide to learning English with songs

1. Choose a song that's in English

It can be any song at all. A song that you like, that you've listened to several times before. Have you found it? Great! Now …

2. Listen to the song

Do you understand all of the lyrics? 

Probably not! But don't worry – people hardly ever understand every word of a song the first time they hear it. The words have to fit the rhythm of the music, so they are often difficult to understand. 

3. Read the lyrics

Find the lyrics online. Many music streaming services have a setting where you can listen and read the lyrics at the same time.

Listen to the song again while you read. Now it starts to make a bit more sense!

Make a note of new or interesting words and phrases. You don't have to look up every single word in the dictionary. Try to learn five to ten new words per song.

4. Notice pronunciation

You may notice some strange-looking words! Some words in songs are written as they are pronounced. 

'Wanna', for example, is an informal spelling of 'want to'. 

What about 'gonna' and 'gimme'? What are these informal spellings of?

As you listen, notice how phrases are pronounced. This really helps you understand people when they're talking fast.

5. Listen again and join in

As you listen, start to join in with the easier parts. Sing as quietly or as loudly as you want!

The chorus – the part of the song that is repeated several times – will probably be what you can sing along to first.

6. Sing along

Listen to the song a few more times, and each time join in with a little bit more. 

By now the song is really in your head! You're really feeling the rhythm of the music and the lyrics. 

Tomorrow, next week or whenever you feel like learning a new song, do the same thing again. But don't forget to come back to the old songs, especially your favourites. 

 

So, whatever type of music you're into, learning English with songs will help you improve your listening and speaking skills, vocabulary and pronunciation. 

It'll teach you words and phrases that you would never learn in the classroom!

And, most importantly, it'll make learning English really enjoyable and fun. Happy listening!

Discussion

Language level

Average: 4.5 (23 votes)

Submitted by lotus454 on Thu, 21/12/2023 - 11:31

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my favorite is marshmallows and toxic

Submitted by farhaghazal18 on Sat, 19/08/2023 - 17:53

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Good tips I almost have been doing this since I started listening to music and I will continue doing it but thank u.

Submitted by _lucero58 on Thu, 29/06/2023 - 22:12

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Good tips!, I will practice with my favorite songs, in fact my favorite singer is Shawn Mendes, I think he has a really deeply songs.

Submitted by Uwase Mireille on Wed, 07/06/2023 - 01:27

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Me I live Justin Bieber alot so I prefer listening to his song

Profile picture for user WagnerCavalcanti

Submitted by WagnerCavalcanti on Fri, 02/06/2023 - 20:57

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Actually, my favorite song changes throughout the time. Today is is "Elastic Heart". it was "another heart" last week though. I don't know what it will be like next week...

Submitted by User_1 on Sun, 28/05/2023 - 14:45

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Hello,
Listening to songs helps me improve my English, so I would ask the team which songs are best for this.
As you said, I usually listen and read the lyrics at the same time by singers like Adele, Ed Sheeran and many others.
Please, could the team let me know if there are any particular singers and songs best suited to improve my English?
Thanks for your reply

Hello User_1,

It's hard to say because people are so different, but in general I'd encourage you to listen widely and then to focus on ones that seem enjoyable, useful and/or meaningful to you.

It's certainly possible to learn from songs that you don't like, but I wouldn't recommend doing that too much -- there are so many others that you can both enjoy and learn something from that I don't see the use of spending lots of time on something you don't enjoy.

The names you mention all sound good to me. You might also find it useful to do an internet search for something like 'best songs to learn English from' and I'm sure you'll find plenty of lists that could give you some good choices.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Thanks Kirk for your suggestions.
About speaking, I hoped there were more suitable songs than others...
I will do the research you mentioned.

Submitted by luiscarto07 on Mon, 22/05/2023 - 22:57

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hello everyone!! I don´t listen to english music actually, but i think i´ll start to do it because one of the most difficult things for me about learning English is the listening. It would be amazing if you guys recommend me some English songs :) thank you

Hello Permalink, I would recommend Engelbert Humperdinck (How do i stop loving you)
this singer voice is awesome & pronouncing so clear ,enjoy the rhythm & lyrics