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Music has always played a very important part in many cultures. It brings people together, breaks social boundaries and transmits emotions even without lyrics. Songs can have that same effect, no matter what the language is. We usually say that a song can speak volumes, and that is very true! But did you know that you could use amazing pieces of musical art in order to help you learn English? In this new post, GlobalExam will guide you and show you:

Why should you learn English through music?
→ Top 10 best songs to learn English with.
→ What types of songs should you listen to to learn English?
→ How to learn English while singing at the top of your lungs.
Study English online thanks to our General English program.

Now without further ado, let’s get into it!

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Why should you learn English through music?

Music is the one thing that transcends time and boundaries. It also connects people, no matter the language of the song. A wide majority of the “mainstream” music we hear is from English speaking countries. So we thought we could share with you how you can use this opportunity to learn English with songs! Here are some reasons why you should learn English through music:

  • Music is entertaining. And we know that if you enjoy what you’re doing/studying, then it will get ten times easier to memorize. That is why a lot of songs get stuck in your head. A lot of them have a catchy melody and you inevitably want to sing along. Why not use this to learn some vocabulary and structures?
  • Songs are short (around 3 to 5 minutes) so they’re easy to listen to, even if you’re busy.

Plus, they contain a lot of repetitions because the chorus of each song remains the same. And repetitions are another great way of memorizing vocabulary words.

  • You will learn a lot of vocabulary. The fact that vocabulary is often kept simple and repetitive within a song will make it easier for you to learn them. But in addition to that, there is always a particular topic for each song so you can have access to a lot of different vocabulary words and themes.
  • Kids use songs to remember things such as the alphabet or vocabulary themes (colours, numbers, animals…), why shouldn’t it help you too? Although the songs you will be listening to will be much more mature than the songs kids listen to, it remains the same concept as nursery rhymes: catchy and repetitive songs that are easy to memorize.

man playing guitar

Music to learn English: Top 10 songs to listen to

Somebody that I used to know by Gotye

This catchy song of the 2010s is great if you want to learn about the structure Be used to and the past tense. Be used to is a structure that we use when we want to talk about habits we did in the past but no longer do. There are also a lot occurences of the simple past in the song to help you with this tense. A few idioms related to relationships are also present in the song:

to let go: to release and not think about something in particular.

to cut someone off: to erase someone from someone else’s life

stoop so low: to do something without good intentions

Lemon tree by Fool’s Garden

This very catchy song is great if you struggle with BE+ING. The singer describes what he is doing on a sunday afternoon. So he naturally uses the present progressive tense (be+ -ing) in order to describe that.

I’m sitting here in the boring room

It’s just another rainy Sunday afternoon

I’m wasting my time I got nothing to do

I’m hanging around

I’m waiting for you

But nothing ever happens and I wonder”

This is halloween – The Nightmare before Christmas

This an amazing song to listen to during October’s spooky times! This song was covered by Panic! at the disco which is a bit easier to understand than the original version (it is slower paced) Plus, the video clip for this song makes it even easier to understand as you can see the vocabulary words come to life – all related to halloween:

Pumpkin, Trick or Treat, snakes and spiders…

As well as verbs and nouns related to scary things:

Scream, fright, scared, pounce, hiding under…

Counting Stars by OneRepublic

Another great song that uses the present progressive as well as a lot of good vocabulary words:

Bold – brave

Wanna (slang) – want to

Seek out – look for

The song has a slow and fast pace as well so it makes for a great listening exercise!

We are the champions by Queen

This great classic is a very good song to learn about idioms and expand your vocabulary:

paid my dues – paid/made up for one’s mistakes

my share – my part

sand kicked in my face – to experience something mean from others

come through – to overcome the difficulties

no bed of roses – something difficult

Stressed out by 21 pilots

This is a great pick if you want to learn about the structure wish + simple past, a construction used a lot in the song and that we use to make a wish in the present.

I wish we could turn back time…

I wish I had a better voice…

I wish I found some chords…

“ABC” by Jackson 5

This song features a very simple vocabulary and is easy to understand.  The vocabulary is focused on school and is very catchy, so it stucks easily in your head.

The Lazy song by Bruno Mars

This great hit is very easy to get as it is slow paced and the vocabulary fairly simple too. But there a few idioms and expressions to know:

Chillin’: be relaxed

Snuggie: a type of sweater-blanket

My old man: slang for father

Being in your birthday suit: being naked

It’s also great for learners who want to practice their future tense and the use of be going to:

“I’m gonna” → I am going to

“I just wanna” → I want to

Love yourself by Justin Bieber

This song offers a great practice between the different forms of the auxiliary do/don’t and did/didn’t. It is a great song to practice your negative constructions if you’re struggling with them!

All of me by John legend

All of Me is great if you want to learn about phrasal verbs. There are a lot of them through the song, such asdraw in – to attract“, “kick out – push away” or “pin down – to confirm”

two people singing

What types of songs should you listen to to learn English?

In order to make the most of your learning, you should pick a song that is neither too long nor too fast. Otherwise it will be too difficult for you to follow along and understand the vocabulary. Try to choose songs that are in ordinary “modern” english, avoid slang terms as much as you can if you’re a beginner. A lot of songs have “common” slang terms such as “wanna” and “gotta” so be sure you know what they mean first. The song and voice should be clear as well so you don’t struggle too much to understand the lyrics. Find songs that have a lot of rhyming words and rhythms that repeat too, as it will ensure it sticks in your head and it will be way easier to memorize!

Lastly, you can also check out different games as well! There are many music games that will help you improve your English in the same way. And if you enjoy all of these resources, don’t forget that you can always pick up a novel or a book in English as well.

Learn English with songs: How to do it while singing at the top of your lungs?

Well first, you can pick any song you like! If you really like a song, if you know one of them by heart, why not try and look further into its lyrics and meaning? Even if you don’t feel like learning and focusing on grammar rules, you can simply look for vocabulary words and translate the song. Take notes of the new words you’re learning and you will build up a nice vocabulary base. Then, whether it’s a new song or one that you’ve already listened to, try to follow along with the lyrics. This way, you will associate the written and oral forms of the words and it will help your memory.

If you want to have a more grammatical approach to learning English through songs, then look for repetitive structures (there is a lot of repetition in songs!) such as “-ed” (the simple past), be+-ing (present progressive), “I want to”, “be used to” etc. Starting from these structures you can either learn more about them and do some exercises or just try to look for songs that have the same structures. Try to vary the activities you’re doing when learning with songs:
– You can practice your pronunciation by repeating choruses or parts of the songs over and over or just practicing vocabulary.
You can also try to practice verb tenses by rewriting a song from a verb tense into another (a song written in the simple past would be re-written in the simple present, for example). Do not forget that you still have to use traditional resources such as websites and language learning applications for practicing and learning grammar.
– You can practice reading too. Try reading the lyrics on their own and then listening to them with the song. There are a lot of possibilities and all of them are equally as fun to practice. Do not forget to actually read English books as well!

You can also get similar results by watching your favourite movies and TV shows or even listening to interesting podcasts. All of these activities will develop your hearing skills.

Learn English with our General English program

When learning with songs, you can come across unusual vocabulary or grammatical structures and it can be sometimes difficult to understand what they mean or what they’re used for. Our General English course will ensure that you can have the right tools to practice learning with songs easily. Our General English program is tailored for beginner and intermediate learners that seek a place where they can learn English the fun way. With General English, you will have access to:

  • An academic training and lessons that are ludic and entertaining so you’re never bored with what you’re learning and look forward to your next lesson.
  • Detailed corrections that ensure you leave nothing behind unanswered.
  • Revision sheets that you can access through your account anytime you need.

Train with us and you will never be discouraged again from learning something as exciting as learning English. What are you waiting for? Hop on with us and let’s learn English together!