Music is called the “universal language” for a reason.
“Universal” refers to something that is true for or applies to everyone. Every human being has a certain understanding of rhythm and melody from birth—you don’t have to go to school to learn how to enjoy the latest songs!
Use headphones: YouTube and other streaming sites and music resources often have low volume and poor audio quality. Using earbuds or headphones will help ensure that you catch all the words clearly rather than playing a guessing game as the song plays on.
Sing along: Simply listening to English music can do a lot for your understanding of English, but it never improves your spoken skills. To practice the words to songs yourself, you can sing the lyrics along with the music. There are also special karaoke videos you can find online that allow you to sing along to a version of the music without lyrics.
Pay attention to your mouth, tongue and lips: Notice how your mouth moves while you copy the pronunciation of the singers. This will help you transfer your English skills to normal conversations without music.
Replay difficult lines: The benefit of digital technology is that you can easily go back to a specific point in a song hundreds of times and listen to a part of a song over and over. If you find that a line has some difficult words, be sure to replay them so you can memorize them.
Practice speaking lyrics normally: You will not be singing most of the time you are using the English language! So after you have listened to a song, find the lyrics of it and read them out loud just like you would read a book out loud. This will help you learn to pronounce and use the words as you would actually do in conversation.
Here are some songs to get your started:
1. “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
You can also use this song to learn the correct pronunciation for harder-to-say words like “myths” and “legends” (both meaning the kind of stories that involve gods or heroes), “testaments” (a sign or proof of something) or “eclipse,” which is an event when the light of the sun or the moon is blocked. You may have heard people talking about the eclipse of the sun that took place in August of 2017.
I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
The testaments they told
The moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls
A suit before he lifts
But I’m not the kind of person that it fits
(The words that tend to be harder to pronounce or understand for English learners are in italics.)
2. “Ghost” by Parekh and Singh
The word “ghost” itself can be tricky for English learners to pronounce, and the song can teach you how to do it. Other words you should pay attention to are “partially” and “whim” (a sudden or passing desire). The song is repetitive, which makes it easier to follow the lyrics.
Change my life just upon a whim
Jump into the ocean, learn to swim
Gone for summer, winter, all the seasons
I guess that might be the reason
That I am a ghost
3.“Hypnotised” by Coldplay
This song is more for advanced learners, as the lyrics are complex. Also, there is very little repetition in the lyrics.
Pay attention to words like “hypnotised,” “mesmerized” (both mean about the same thing), “steeple” (the top of a church tower) and “rubble” (broken stones, bricks or concrete). Also note that “hypnotise” with an S is the British English spelling. If you are learning American English, you will want to spell “hypnotize” with a Z.
Been rusting in rubble
Running to a faint
Need a brand new coat of paint
I found myself in trouble
Thinking ’bout what ain’t
Never gonna be a saint
4.“Chained to the Rhythm” by Katy Perry
This song is good for all learning levels as there is enough repetition to follow the song but the lyrics have challenging words that will surely help you increase your vocabulary. You will hear some weirder words like “zombie” (a fictional creature that is neither dead or alive) and “distortion” (in this case, the twisting and falsifying of information).
Turn it up, it’s your favorite song
Dance, dance, dance to the distortion
Come on, turn it up, keep it on repeat
Stumbling around like a wasted zombie
Yeah, we think we’re free
Drink, this one is on me
We’re all chained to the rhythm
Hope you have a great time listening to these songs and boosting your English speaking skills!