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!