Do you enjoy listening to music? It’s something you can do which doesn’t have to take any time out of your day – you can listen while you’re walking to work or washing the dishes. Wouldn’t it be great, then, if you could use your enjoyment of listening to music to help you with your language skills?
If you’ve already tried listening to songs in the language you’re learning, as good as the song may be, you may have found this a slightly demoralising experience if you’re struggling to understand what the song is about. However, we have to remember that it can be more difficult to understand a language when it is being sung because the sounds of the words and the flow of a phrase are often adapted from what we are used to hearing in spoken language in order to suit the music. So don’t be disheartened! Remember that even when listening to songs in English, it isn’t always easy to pick out every word! This is why songs are a great test for your listening comprehension and good for your pronunciation.
How exactly, then, can you make the most out of a song to benefit your language skills? Read on to find out our top 6 tips!
1. Just listen, with no peeking!
Try listening to the song a few times without looking at the lyrics. Even if you can only pick out the odd word at first, this is a great start, as getting used to the sounds you’re hearing is good practice for your listening skills.
2. Now add the lyrics!
Look up the lyrics online (in the original language, not the English translation!) and listen to the song again while reading through them. This will help you to associate the sounds you’ve heard in the song with written words with which you may already be familiar. This stage is usually quite reassuring, as you realise that you actually do know a lot of the words being sung.
3. Compare with an English translation
For many songs, you can find an English translation of the lyrics by searching online. Compare this to the original lyrics and note down any new vocabulary. The new words you are learning are within context and attached to a tune – often making them easier to remember! If you can’t find a translation of the lyrics, try running them through an online translator – just remember that this often can’t provide a perfect translation, but it should help to give you a rough understanding of the text.
4. Use the lyrics as a reading text
Now you can look through the original lyrics as if it were any other reading text, looking for examples of language points you have been learning about. Try noting them down so you can remember examples of these grammar points being used in context!
5. Cultural knowledge
Look up the artist online to expand your cultural knowledge. When you get the chance to practise your languages with native speakers, it is not only important to have an understanding of their language, but their culture as well. Knowledge of other cultures helps to connect with people better and gives you something interesting to talk about too!
6. Enjoy your listening!
Add the song to your regular listening playlist and enjoy getting to know it! Maybe you’ll even have all the lyrics memorised after a while. Just think how many new words and structures you will have learned!
As you can see, language learning can become a part of other aspects of your everyday life and doesn’t have to only come from specific language learning content. So between your Coffee Break podcasts, why not check out our Tune for Tuesday Spotify and YouTube playlist? Every week we add a new song from around the world to create a multilingual playlist of world music! We’ve embedded the Spotify playlist below or there’s a YouTube link if you prefer.
Which songs do you already know in the language you’re learning? Share your favourites in the comments, we’d be delighted to add some of them to our playlist!