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9 Earworms that Will Help You Learn Languages

Photo via Wikimedia

Sometimes when you turn on the radio, you find yourself mumbling along to words to songs you’d not normally want anything to do with. These earworms wriggle their way into your head, and the next thing you know, you’re word perfect for the lyrics to a Justin Bieber song. The horror.

But what if these earworms could be used as a force for good? What if you could trick your brain into learning the lyrics to a song in the language you are studying? They would still be an earworm, sure, and you’d still find yourself mumbling them under your breath when stood in the queue for the checkout, or singing them brazenly and out loud from the safety of your car, but you would be learning at the same time. Multi-tasking is your language learning friend; here are some musical suggestions for entertainment/education.

1. Despacito - Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber (...sorry)

It isn’t common for a non-English song to make much of an impact on the Billboard chart; in 35 years there have been no more than 15 that have made their way into the top hundred. Despacito, sung in Spanish, has broken that trend, being at number one for literal weeks. Listen carefully; it is likely to get stuck in your head (like any good earworm should do).

2. We Are One (Ole Ola) - Pitbull

This Fifa 2014 song is a perfect example of the language drip feeding that songs can do. Sung in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, look us in the eye and tell us that you didn’t find yourself singing along to this one - with words you didn’t necessarily understand.

3. I Belong to You (+Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix) - Muse

It’s Muse, so as far as we’re concerned, this is a winner already. The music of this song is guaranteed to get stuck, and whilst there are only two verses sung completely in French, we hope that is enough to inspire you to reach for a translation (or just sing along).

4. Rock Me Amadeus - Falco

This German synthpop love letter to Mozart is definitely something you won’t be able to unhear, and why would you want to? Admittedly, Amadeus is probably going to be the overall lasting word you take from this song, but the lyrics are entirely in German. Give it a few listens and you might not be fluent, but are guaranteed to have picked up a few new words.

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5. Gentleman - Psy

And here was us thinking the only thing Psy could teach us was dancing Gangnam style… If you feel like picking up a little Korean, Gentleman might be a good place to start. You have two full verses in Korean, and the rest is made up with some, um, encouraging English. This song is guaranteed to get lodged between your ears; listen to with caution.

6. Une americaine a Paris - Rupa & the April Fishes

We are a little in love with this band. This song, sung entirely in French, is from the album

eXtraOrdinary rendition, which is like a language smorgasbord of music. You will hear songs in English, French, Spanish, and Hindi, and if that isn’t enough to whet your language appetite, frankly we think you might be too hard to please…

7. Calle 13 - Latinoamérica

See? We are still trying to offer you a wide range of choices here, and Calle 13 is no exception. Latinoamérica are a band from Puerto Rico, who incorporate just about every style of Latin music into their songs you can imagine. Calle 13 is sung in both Portuguese and Spanish, and is definitely worth a listen.

8. Somos Sur - Ana Tijoux featuring Shadia Mansour

Beautiful! This is a political “joyful dancing rebellion”, so if you want to know more than just the Spanish and Arabic lyrics it is sung in, then this song will give you a little social political education as well.

9. Stirb Nicht Vor Mir (Don’t Die Before I Do) - Rammstein feat. Sharleen Spiteri

And finally. The entire discography of Rammstein we feel is a great way to enhance any German studying you may be doing, but we thought we would use this bilingual example featuring Sharleen Spiteri of Texas fame to entice you in.

So there you are! We hope we have inspired you to, if not listen to our music selection, then to seek out some of your own. Enjoy!