For many of us, the start of the new year is the time we often dust off our language dictionaries and workbooks and resolve to learn a new language. We conjure up dreams of communicating seamlessly with locals during our next trip and impressing our friends with newfound skills. But most of the time, as we get caught up in work and life, our plans get shelved along with our books.
You may have memorized endless lists of vocabulary, you may know all the grammar needed to hold any conversation and still find yourself at a loss when wanting to express yourself.
How to learn English with songs
November 29, 2013 by Bloomsbury International
But the truth is, learning a language shouldn’t be a chore. After all, reading, listening, and chatting with others are all great, enjoyable activities, and learning should be, too. And it also can be easy—if you approach it in a fresh way.
In this article, I would like to give you a few tips to help overcome the difficulties you might be experiencing, using some of the simplest methods to improve your English communication skills.
Do you enjoy listening to music? Do you have many English songs in your music collection? Why not start using these songs to help improve your English language skills?!
In your English language classes, your teacher might sometimes play songs and ask you to answer questions about them. You might think this is a relaxing or fun part of the lesson, but it is actually an excellent method to improve your English. There have been many professional studies comparing language learning to music and there are, in fact, many similarities. Firstly, they are two of the main ways in which we communicate and express ourselves. We use the same part of our brain for language and music and it is very common for musical people to also be good at learning languages.
1. Learn as if You’re (Really) Young
- Slow Down Your Speaking Speed
Communication can be broken down into 3 categories: verbal language (the actual words we say), body language (eye contact, hand gestures etc.) and intonation (the tone of your voice, speed and volume). Did you know that only 7% of communication involves verbal language? (That’s why it is sometimes extremely difficult to understand what someone means in an email or text message!) 55% of communication is body language and 38% is intonation, the part of language that relates most to music!
How will learning English through songs help me?
When I start to learn languages, I often approach it through the eyes of a child. Children’s books and learning materials start with the basics and break them down into small fragments—and when you’re pressed for time, that can be much easier than getting into a dense workbook.
You might be an eloquent speaker when it comes to your mother tongue, but expecting the same standards from yourself when speaking in a foreign language may not be very realistic.
Using songs is a really great way to improve your pronunciation and grammar, and you are likely to learn and remember new vocabulary and idioms.
Pronunciation: Singing along with your favourite English songs will help you to learn how to pronounce English words correctly and will also help to reduce your accent. You will learn more about the rhythm of sentences and how to link your words together when you speak.
When I first started learning Korean, I learned my numbers in 10 minutes with the Korean Numbers Song. Later, I used children’s books and music videos to help gauge when I was ready to move past an introductory level. When I got to Korea, I gained confidence by speaking to nieces and younger students—they understood my basic words, and I wasn’t so worried about messing up. These conversations gave me the foundation to learn “formal” Korean later.
Especially, if you’re at the early stages of learning. Learners are often told not to worry about the mistakes they’re making, however, it is easy to understand why you would like to make a good impression on your audience.
Vocabulary: Listening to music will help you to learn more vocabulary quickly. You are also more likely to remember new words and English expressions if you listen to them in a song than if you read them or learn them in your English class (especially if you sing along!).
Grammar: You might think that grammar needs to be learnt in a very structured way but listening to music will help you to remember grammar patterns and learn how to use grammar correctly in everyday conversation.
2. Watch Movies
To overcome this difficulty, you may try slowing down your speaking speed.
How can I improve my English with music?
There are a few different ways that you can use music to help with your English studies. Just listening to music on your iPod while you’re walking to work will probably help to improve your pronunciation, vocab and English listening skills, but there are exercises you can do which will help you even more!
Before I left for India, I got to know the three Khans—Shurukh, Salman, and Aamir—three of the most popular Bollywood Stars of our time. I immersed myself in their movies and songs, which not only made my ear familiar with the inflection and sounds of Hindi language, but also helped me learn a few basic phrases.
Nobody will hold it against you if you speak more slowly and clearly. Great speakers do the same to get their message across. Selecting your words carefully may also be seen as a sign of respect towards your audience. It shows that you want to give them the best possible answer.
Choose an English song with lyrics that you can hear clearly (preferably one that you haven’t heard before).
Listen to the song with your eyes closed and try to work out the theme of the song from the lyrics and the expression in the singer’s voice (is the song about love? Has the singer been hurt? Is the singer happy?)
At this stage,