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Learning English through songs: listen to your favorite artists with benefits!

Learning English through songs: listen to your favorite artists with benefits!

Everyone loves to listen to music: it uplifts, energizesб and inspires. But it can also be a powerful tool for language learning!

Unlike watching movies or TV series in English, learning by listening to music is not so time-consuming. On average, a song lasts two or three minutes, gives us aesthetic pleasure, and makes us want to listen to it again and again.

It is believed that even if we do not try to listen to the lyrics, we still subconsciously learn and memorize the spoken words. If we listen to music in a purposeful and conscious way, the process will bring even more educational benefits.

What are the benefits of listening to songs?

  • Vocabulary Expansion. Even in the short period that one song lasts, we can learn many new and useful words and expressions. In addition, many words in songs are repeated in the chorus, and this is a great way to memorize them without much effort.
  • Grammar. You can find a countless variety of grammatical structures in songs, which will also be easier to memorize as they come in a ready-made context with an attractive accompaniment and rhythm.
  • Pronunciation. We hear how words and whole phrases are pronounced in natural speech, and through repetition and trying to sing along, we fully imitate this pronunciation, once and for all fixing its correctness.

How to choose a song

First of all, it is better to choose the genre and style that you like. You probably have a number of favorite artists whose songs you like, and you have always wanted to understand what they are singing about. Secondly, it is better to choose English-language songs that are sung by native speakers. Given that the music market is largely filled with English-speaking musicians, this doesn't seem to be a problem, and yet there may be some English songs sung by non-native speakers. It is still better to listen to a natural English-speaking accent. Thirdly, you should not choose something too fast and complex, especially at first — there is a risk of not keeping up with the pace and meaning.

How to listen properly

First, you should just listen to the song: enjoy the music, the sound, the singer's voice, and the emotions. And then you can start to analyze it in more detail. When listening to the song (and if we like the song, we will definitely want to listen to it many times), it is worthwhile to get involved in the analysis of individual words and phrases.

Of course, it can be difficult to understand what is being said in songs, because the music and the manner of performance can make it difficult to understand. This happens even in our native language — we can't always understand a particular line. In such cases, the lyrics come to the rescue — it's always easy to find them on the Internet by simply typing the song title and author into a search engine. Now you can listen and follow the lyrics with your eyes at the same time, understanding each line and paying attention to the subtleties of pronunciation.

Finally, the best part is that you can join the performer and sing together. In this way, pronunciation is practiced, words and grammatical structures are repeated. And most importantly, the process itself is fun!

Working with text

Do not forget to work more carefully with the lyrics of the song. For example, it is recommended to write down new words and expressions so that you can use them later in other language situations, for example, when practicing with your interlocutor.

Pay attention to grammar — you will often hear abbreviated forms in songs, such as "gimme" instead of "give me" or "gonna" instead of "going to". Also, don't be surprised — you may often encounter incorrect forms in songs, such as a mistake in the conjugation of a verb. It is not worth repeating in practice, but you should know that such things do occur in colloquial speech.

Also, some songs can hide a deep meaning, the analysis of which sometimes requires time and additional research, because songs can hide a lot of metaphors, comparisons and other stylistic means. You can even look up what is written about the meaning of the song on the Internet, of course, on English-language sites.

For those who want a little more, we can suggest additional practice, which involves another aspect of English that is not obvious in this activity. After all, if a song really touched us, we can leave a comment or review, for example, under a YouTube video.

Top songs to listen to in English

As a bonus, we offer you a list of songs and artists that are leading the educational channel selections for listening.

  • Taylor Swift and her song Shake It Off. A lot of useful vocabulary and phrasal verbs can be found in this piece by one of the most popular American singers.
  • Snow Patrol and the composition Chasing Cars, which the band performs at a leisurely pace, clearly enunciating the lyrics.
  • Bruno Mars: listen to Just The Way You Are and The Lazy Song, in which, besides vocabulary, you can also practice the grammar of the language.
  • Justin Bieber, songnz Love Yourself, from which you can learn useful idioms and expressions.
  • Pharrell Williams with the upbeat song Happy, which not only uses uncomplicated vocabulary but also uplifts the mood.
  • The band The Cure and the song Friday I'm in Love will additionally help students walk through the days of the week.
  • John Legend, a singer with remarkable and clear diction, will help you memorize phrasal verbs with the song All of Me.
  • OneRepublic and their hit Counting Stars are notable in that the song combines both slow and fast paced moments, practicing long takes in grammar.
  • George Ezra with the song Budapest will help you learn the grammar of conditional sentences and the shortened form of the verb would.
  • British band Coldplay with the song Viva la Vida will teach a lot of useful words and idioms.
  • Adele and her lyrics — Hello, Someone Like You — are great listening material as they allow you to listen to the London accent and enrich your vocabulary with useful expressions.
  • Ed Sheeran with a whole list of songs — Lego House, Thinking Out Loud, Perfect, Shape of You — tops all lists for English learners, you'll definitely want to sing along with him.
  • The band Queen has long been a classic and its hits can be listened to endlessly, for example, We Are The Champions, It's a Hard Life, Somebody to Love, and for the most advanced the great hit Bohemian Rhapsody.
  • An enduring classic of British English is The Beatles. Many of their songs are sung with good and clear pronunciation, and their light motifs and energy will not let you get bored. The list of recommended Beatles songs for listening is huge, but you can start with All My Loving, We Can Work it Out, Eleanor Rigby, Here Comes The Sun, Let It Be.
  • Eminem and his famous track Lose Yourself will be an excellent listening practice, as well as many other compositions of the author. Despite the fast pace of the rap singer's speech, he is distinguished by clear pronunciation of all words, a huge variety of vocabulary and grammar, as well as lyrics filled with personal meaning.

How else can we learn a language?

Of course, songs are an excellent source of vocabulary and grammar to help with language learning. However, we realize that basic knowledge must be acquired systematically and consistently.

To build this base and easily understand all of your favorite English-speaking artists, you can enroll in ILAC Canada's English courses. The course programs are designed for different levels and pump up all language aspects.

Courses are available online at the convenience of students, and there is also the option to take courses offline if you are already in Canada.

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