English Listening & Speaking via Music

Admittedly it’s not a big revelation that music helps while learning languages and I bet most of us (people in language teaching) use music all the time. However I thought I write down the musical approach I used this term in order to compare it to future approaches or with yours.

1.) Famous Pop Songs – Covers

One of the first things I did this semester was introducing cover versions of famous pop songs. Why? Simple. Students love to listen to current hits rather than to some super old school stuff. Why cover version? They are usually slower (if you pick an acoustic one) and hence easier to understand. Good examples can usually be found over there at the Boyce Avenue channel. However that’s just a personal preference.

2.) Faster Songs

Apparently the 2nd step after slow cover songs. Listening to some originals and trying to understand them. Usually I let students write the lyrics down, of course. Later on they then even had to analyze the meanings of different songs.

3.) Hip Hop Hooray. 

Yep. HipHop songs. At first I started with a song that everybody knew. Superbass by Nicki Minaj. However I didn’t play the original but a cover version (by Julie Ann San Jose) so that the ‘slow’ part of the song was easier to understand. The rap part was, nevertheless, not easy to get but still easier than in the original version.

As an assignment I let students look up the lyrics and remember parts of them and present it afterwards. Just to make them think and talk faster.

As final musical assignment I then played a not very famous (should be more famous though) song by George Watsky. I picked a song that didn’t show up easily when entering the song name + lyrics into google (not this one here!) and asked students to understand the lyrics as homework.


That’s obviously not a big deal or great inspirational approach but lots of fun for most students and it actually helped many of them (at least the class as a whole helped. Not sure if it was the music part or the rest, of course).

So how do you implement music into your language classes?

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