Music is one of the most effective ways to learn a language. Think of how many lyrics you get stuck in your head without even trying to! So why not turn those catchy choruses and clever word plays into an opportunity for language learning? Here are some of the best ways to use music to learn English.
To the charts!
Because English is just about everywhere you go, it's safe to assume that many music charts the world over will have English songs as some of their favourites. Google top 20 music chart in your country and see what you can find! Take Bad Guy by Billie Eilish as an example. This song is in the top twenty in Spain and Germany, as well as a number of other countries. Half the top twenty for France is in English, with everything from Giant by Calvin Harris and Rag'n'Bone Man, to Leave A Light on by Tom Walker making an appearance. In short, you don't have to try too hard to find English music, no matter where you live!
Once you have that music, find a way to incorporate it into your routine. Do you have a Spotify playlist for working to? A playlist that you have for the gym? A few songs you like to listen to on repeat to get you through your commute to work? Use that to your advantage! By mixing some English music into the usual songs you listen to, you will soon be picking up new words!
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A lesson in translation
Okay, so you have your song of choice that you're already humming along to, and now you want to make sure you know all the words. Let's use Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi as an example. First, get the song in your head, really get it in there. What words do you already know? What words are you desperate to understand? Get them written down! Then, find the lyrics for them. This might be on the official YouTube video, or you could use a site like Genius.
Once you have those lyrics, listen again while reading along. You might even be lucky if it is a popular song like this one is, and find those lyrics translated into your own language, on sites like Lyrics Translate. Finally, any words you're stuck on you can use a trusted dictionary or even Google Translate for. There are so many ways to incorporate learning into your day with music!
Radio is a great way to get a little immersion in your target language, even if you have a busy day and don't really have time to stop! Tune In is a truly incredible tool for language learning if you just want some background noise. You can search by location if you're looking specifically for American, Australian, or British English, you can search by language, and you can even choose to narrow that search by genre if you want something specific.
So whether that is Capital XTRA in London, or 101 FM in Brisbane, there is a radio station (and accent) to suit you. With so much to choose from, we can't guarantee you won't get a little distracted, but radio is still an opportunity to practice your English!
Okay so maybe the thought of singing in English when you're new to learning the language is a bit much. But there is also something freeing about singing words you don't fully understand! Though if tripping over your words in public really does fill you with a sense of dread, have no fear. Bring the karaoke to the privacy of your home instead!
First, find a popular song; you can search charts like the Billboard Hot 100 from the US for something closer to the top of the list. The more popular the song, the more likely you'll find lyric videos for it. Try Without Me by Halsey; there are lots of lyric videos available on Youtube for you to sing along to, helping you to perfect pronunciation as you get to grips with new vocabulary and grammar.
Music truly is one of the most versatile ways to learn a language, no matter how you choose to go about it. So what's your current favourite English song?