How to Learn English Through Songs

Songs are an important asset to language learning, and can be used by ESL teachers in the classroom as well as by ESL students interested in extra practice or learning English on their own. The specific songs and methods will depend on the student's age and current English level. Whatever the student's age, using songs to study English improves memory and pronunciation, and makes learning more fun.

Things You'll Need

  • Recorded music
  • Listening device (mp3 player, stereo)


    • 1

      Choose songs based on your (or your student's) English speaking level and age. For younger, beginning students, simple children's songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" will do. For older or more advanced students, it is best to choose music they have some interest in already. Rock, rap, hip-hop, country, jazz, and classical would all suffice.

    • 2

      Identify the lesson objective for the day. Whether in the classroom or studying independently, there should always be a specific focus, such as listening skills, pronunciation, prepositions, or idioms.

    • 3

      Before beginning, decide how you want to use the songs you've chosen. For children, new topics are more memorable when sung to the tune of a familiar song. This is why most children learn their alphabet by singing it over "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." For slightly older children, have them write their own lyrics to the lesson's topic over a familiar melody, then sing.

      For teenagers and adults, music is a great way to increase retention, and studying lyrics is a fun way to learn English. Try listening to a song and writing down what you think the lyrics are, then comparing to a printed copy of the actual lyrics. To study advanced concepts like idioms and slang, read and listen to the lyrics, and first try to identify those phrases and infer their meaning by context before looking them up.

    • 4

      Always repeat the process. Sing or listen to the song at least twice, preferably more. Simply listening to a song once in English will not help you retain the new concepts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instrumental music can be just as helpful as songs with lyrics. Try creating an instrumental soundtrack for specific lessons.
  • According to Pam Orel of Rutgers University, "Baroque music pulses between 50 to 60 beats per minute and has been shown to enhance learning of foreign languages and to improve performance in some types of tests."
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

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