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How to Learn English by Listening to Music

5 min read
26 January 2021
two students listening music together in their flat

This question goes to all music lovers: How much are you learning by listening to music? Music is one of the most accessible art forms on earth – we enjoy it because it helps us have fun, helps us relax or meditate, and it’s upbeat. But did you know it is also a great way to learn English.

In honor of World Music Day, we thought we’d take some time out to explore exactly how beneficial music is to your language development skills. If you’re planning on learning English, or already studying up, music can be a valuable skill to help you retain what you learn. But how? Easy, just listen!

Below is a list of all the ways that listening to music can improve your English skills.


Strengthen your vocabulary and listening skills

When listening to a song, you’ll pick up new words that you haven’t heard before or notice some words that are being used in a different context with a different meaning. Listening to (and studying) a new song per week can help you learn 52 songs a year, which are full of new vocabulary and phrases that are difficult to forget. For example, listening to a song like "Friday, I'm in Love" by the Cure is a great way to memorize the days of the week! This exercise will also develop your listening skills. Music can help your brain be more receptive to hearing English.


Speak like the locals do

Song lyrics contain slang, figures of speech, symbolism, and metaphors that you may not use in your everyday language. They also contain abbreviations in the written language that you can learn and use in an informal situation, such as text messaging or Internet-specific terminology.


Perfect your pronunciation

Once you have learned the lyrics, you can practice your pronunciation and explore different accents. Accents depend on the country but also on the area the singer comes from. Singing will help you to learn the correct pronunciation of the words and will also help you remind easily the new vocabulary you have learned.

The verses in the song “Parklife” by Blur are more spoken then sung, and you can definitely hear a strong English accent.


Catch obvious grammar mistakes

If you have a good eye for mistakes, you can find many grammar “exceptions” songwriters usually use. Sometimes singers need to adapt the lyrics to the rhythm of the song, so they take some creative liberties and use grammatical errors on purpose. It’s not only funny when you catch them, but it’s also very helpful to spot these errors as a way to practice your grammar knowledge.

For instance, in the Beatles’ song “Ticket to Ridethe chorus says: She’s got a ticket to ride, but she don’t care. She doesn’t care is grammatically correct, but it just doesn’t sound good.


Discover more about English culture

Music can also increase your cultural understanding and awareness. Many songs talk about great stories and can teach you a lot about love, life, tradition, history, philosophy, literature, and more. A great example of a storytelling song is “Hurricane,” a wonderful story of sports, racism and history told by Bob Dylan, the most recent Nobel Prize for Literature.

So put on your favorite songs and start learning and improving your English!


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