Listening to and singing English songs can help you improve your pronunciation, fluency, and vocabulary - both the academic kind as well as conversational expressions and idioms. New words and expressions stay with you much longer when you learn and repeat them in an entertaining and relaxing way than if you are simply trying to memorize a list of words.
First, you are learning them in an authentic context. Second, you are repeating them frequently enough for them to have "staying power" in your memory.
English songs can also help you to learn, and appreciate grammar in a whole new way - through authentic English as it is used in the real world, not in ESL textbooks. All you have to do is analyze the lyrics and some of the grammar built into the songs.
English music can even help you to learn a lot about culture, about people's attitudes and even about issues and events from around the world.
Music makes people happy. It can also actively engage them in a way that simply reading a book or doing grammar exercises cannot. As a result, when you listen to English songs, learn the words, and sing along with the singer, something magic happens. You relax! You begin to enjoy yourself. You stop thinking too much.
When you sing along to the music, you don't have an accent. This is because you are so relaxed that you actually allow your tongue to go to places it needs to go in order for you to make the English sounds you need to make.
If you really like a song, and sing it often enough, as many of my homestay students have done, not only will you remember all the words, but you will also SOUND English when you sing it.
During the past few years, the Internet has exploded with ESL music sites specifically aimed at helping ESL students improve their English through music and songs. All of the sites have different types of activities that can be useful to practice different things.
Of course, you should try some of the songs and activities on my own MUSIC PAGE. You can find songs to practice specific grammar points, or to focus on different types of content such as family relationships, protest and revolution or love. A number of the activities include discussion questions related to the topic. Many of the activities come from some of the sites below. A few are my own. I will be adding more as time permits.
This is a highly interactive site in which you can watch You Tube videos of a wide variety of songs, and do cloze activities (a cloze is a fill in the blank activity. The great thing is that the site is set up like a game in which you can choose to try your skills at easy, medium and difficult levels. When you finish.,you get a score. You can also click on the karaoke button and sing along with words on the screen.
The Real Canadian Songbook
This is a site specifically devoted to helping students learn English through music by Canadian singers. All of the songs include multiple choice quizzes that you can get the correct answer to. The complete lyrics to the song are also included. Sharon Yoneda, my colleague at VCC originally developed the site because she felt that it was important for her students and other ESL learners in Canada to learn a little more about the Canada and its culture. If you live in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter, this is a terrific website to learn more about the Canadian music scene.
This site not only includes songs, but also listening quizzes for a large variety of videos. Teachers from all over the world have created quizzes for both the songs and any other type of listening. In fact., you can even learn to create your own quizzes with a tutorial on the site. You have a choice of working at the beginner, intermediate or upper intermediate levels, but from what my students have told me, you should have fun with all the levels. .
Musical English Lessons International
This website designed and created by Bibi Baxter has a huge number of downloadable or ready to print activities that students can use to practice their English skills while listening to music. Like Isabel Perez's site, this is not a flashy one, but don't let that prevent you from using it to practice more than just fill in the blank activities. .
Tune Into English
This is a big website with a wide range of activities and links related to music. It includes self-study worksheets and lyrics analysis, games and activities, charts, and music facts as well as online radio magazines and news all related to the music scene. If you register and go to the teacher's section, you will find 1600 lessons for specific songs.
Learn English with Songs This is a lovely site from FREE English Lessons Online that features videos and online song quizzes mostly aimed at grammar and vocabulary. The site features beginner and intermediate activities and includes children's songs and Christmas songs. It also includes a vocabulary section in the teacher's area) where you get a picture dictionary of words and their pronunciation.
- ELLO Music PageThe English Language Listening Lab Online, also known as ELLO has a good music page. Students can listen to popular English songs, some of which have follow-up exercises. To do the exercises, click on the "Word Challenge".
- EFL Club Songs,which also has a wonderful talking dictionary has a wide range of activities that students can do on line while watching You Tube videos. In order to do all the activities, you need to become a member; otherwise you can only do clozes.
- Mondos: Song Lessons offers a lot of excellent song-related activities for English Language Learners.
- Learn English Though Song is a site with 130 songs that have specific lessons go go with them. The lessons range from vocabulary and idioms to specific grammar points.
- Grammar With SongsThis site developed by the City College of Manchester allows students to complete fill in the blank quizzes while listening to a number of popular songs.
Good Sites To Get the Lyrics to Songs
I am adding a few lyric sites where you can get the words to some of your favourite songs. Most of them include an audio player that plays the song, or a video of the song along with lyrics. This makes it great when you want to sing along,. For others, go to the MUSIC PAGE at the top of the blog.
Lyrics Mode is one of my favourite sites for lyrics because not only is it the best source for accurate song lyrics, but also because it often summarizes the song, gives you background information on the singer or the group, and includes a forum where fans discuss the meanings to songs. This makes it a great place for you to practice some writing about a topic that actually interests you.
Here are a few more recommended by Larry Ferlazzo Larry Ferlazzo directly from his Best Of posts.
- Lyreach is a new site that helps you find the full lyrics to a song by just typing in a few of the words your remember.
- Listen Music is a new web application that allows access to many, many songs. One nice feature is that you can also get the lyrics easily & quickly.
- Batlyrics is a new site that looks like a great place to quickly and easily find song lyrics.
- Instalyrics is a new site that shows you the lyrics to any song very, very quickly, along with a music video that goes along with it. The lay-out is very “clean.”
- LyricsNMusic is a nice site that lets you easily search for lyrics and you can a very clean and accessible copy. It also finds music videos of the song.
I'm sure this list is not complete, but it is gives you a good idea of the possibilities out there. If you can recommend any others, please send in your suggestions in the comment section.
In the next few posts, I will be adding information on good karaoke sites, as well as excellent articles about the benefits of learning a language through music.