2 Ways to learning the English Language through Songs!

If you love listening to new songs on the radio, YouTube or Spotify, then this post is for you!

Personally, I love music and am definitely one of those who will turn their toilets into private karaoke booths. Belting songs or “ear-worms” is the reason why I spend an awful lot of time in the shower.

People listen to songs to relax or for the melody. However, did you know that songs can actually help you in your language acquisition too? In recent years, there has been a rise in Korean Popular Music or what is commonly known as Kpop. Due to this influence, many young people are learning the Korean Language through song lyrics as well as from Korean Television Programmes! It showed itself as an effective and brilliant way of picking up a new language.

Likewise, I would like to point out that listening to English songs can also help you brush up on your English Language skills. Have you ever wondered how artists write a song? It is not an easy feat! Lyrics are not just words of a song, but they are in fact lyrical poems. When put together meaningfully, these words tell a story that is being expressed in an emotional and rhythmic manner. Coupled with the tune of the music, it is no wonder we tend to memorise song lyrics faster than grammar rules!

Yet, many of us are so used to singing English songs without paying close attention to the structure and use of words in the song lyrics. Well, it is time to stop that. Let’s take a look at two ways in which songs can help us brush up on our English Language. For those of you who are taking road trips during the holiday or simply listening to songs on the radio at home, try the suggested fun activities!

2 Ways to learning the English Language through Songs!

1. Use rhymes in lyrics to improve reading and spelling!

Lyrics, like poems, usually have rhyming schemes in each stanza. Rhymes are basically words that have the same last sound. For example, “cat” and “bat”. Song writers make use of rhyming schemes in their lyrics to pull the readers attention to the line they want the listeners to pay attention to.

Let’s look at this stanza from the song, “Naughty”, from the Matilda Musical:

Like Romeo and Juliet
Twas written in the stars before they even met
That love and fate and a touch of stupidity
Would rob them of their hope of living happily
The endings are often a little bit gory
I wonder why they didn’t just change their story
We’re told we have to do what we’re told but surely
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty

Check out this link if you have not heard of this song!

Do you see the rhyming scheme in the lyrics?

Rhyming not only makes it easier for you to remember the lyrics and the words, it also increases our phonemic awareness. That is the ability to break down words into smaller parts and sound the different parts out to pronounce a full word.

I am sure many of us remember nursery rhymes such as Jack and Jill. Teachers and parents use nursery rhymes to teach young children to recognise the sounds and syllabus in words, which in turn helps young children to sound new words they encounter in the English Language.

That being said, rhymes are not only for young children. That is a common misconception! It is good to note that words that share common sounds often share common letter sequences.

For example, conspicuous and innocuous. As you can see, these two words are vocabulary which can benefit the older kids and even adults too!

Hence, listening to songs and exposing yourself to different words that rhyme can actually help you to learn to break down words when reading and aid in spelling some difficult words. This is extremely helpful in the Editing component of Paper 2.

Take a look at this particular example:

Use rhymes in lyrics to improve reading and spelling!

Can you find a word in the above example that rhymes with the misspelt word? If you can, then attempt to spell the correct word!

Learning Activity: How many rhymes within the time!

This game is great during a road trip or when you are waiting in a vehicle during a holiday!

Identify a rhyme from a song which you have listened to. Within a minute, think of as many words that rhyme as you can. You can aim to have about 5 words that rhyme if you are doing this on your own. Or, if you are challenging a friend, the game can go on until someone runs out of words that rhyme. Make sure that you record these words down. For example:

The endings are often a little bit gory
I wonder why they didn’t just change their story

Words that rhyme with gory and story: sorry, tertiary, memory, glory etc.

Bonus points can be given for words which are longer and which still rhyme!

Even if you would not like to carry out an activity as such, I challenge some of you to find rhyming schemes in some of your favourite English songs and make a list of words that rhyme! That can actually help you to memorise the spelling of some words that sound similar.

2. Use songs to increase animation in voices

As mentioned above, the reason why songs are so catchy and easy to remember is because of the lyrics and the tune that compliments them.

The beautiful thing about songs is that one single song can send some into tears. Music and songs carry so much emotions and when sung, the singer is the one who conveys these deep feelings and thoughts behind the lyrics.

For example, check out this 13-year-old boy who sang his heart out on America’s Got Talent.

 

Back to the “shower-karaoke” sessions, I’m sure many of us have had the experience of grabbing the shower head and singing a song that we resonate with. Interestingly, these are moments where we can best express ourselves emotionally in a verbal manner.

Listening to and singing songs frequently can actually help us to get used to being expressive in the way we speak. As we listen to how singers express their feelings while singing, we tend to mimic these expressions when singing their songs. Slowly, we attach some of these learnt expressions in singing to the way we speak. This will ensure that your reading and speaking becomes less monotonous, and it will definitely come in useful during Oral Examinations!

Hence, if you love to listen to music, I highly recommend that you sing your heart out as well! It is never about having a melodious voice. Instead, it is about learning to express yourself verbally. Practise singing enthusiastically!

Learning Activity: Karaoke Night – Celebrity Sound-alike!

Have a family karaoke session! It is both a fun way to bond with your family members and an interesting way to learn to express yourself emotionally. To make being expressive more deliberate, you can even have a short competition called “Celebrity Sound-alike!”. While a singer imitates the tone and expressions of the original singer, the rest of the family can form the panel of judges. The more expressions, the better!

That’s all we have for you today! Have a wonderful time with your friends and family as the beautiful year comes to a joyful end! See you soon!

 

 

Ms. Sze Li

Ms Tan Sze Li is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. As a teacher, she strongly believes that learning is a journey for everyone – student and teacher alike. After every lesson, the students leave with new knowledge. Her hope is to inspire students to become inquisitive learners who will spark a change in the world with their thirst for knowledge.

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