Listening to a song in English

An activity to help you get the most out of songs (30 minutes)

Step one

Choose a song you want to understand from your own collection or online (e.g. YouTube).

Step two

Listen to the song twice and as you listen write down some of the words or phrases you hear (or think you hear).

Step three

Find the lyrics of the song (search for example “dancing queen lyrics”).

Step four

Listen again to the song and follow the lyrics. Check to see if what you wrote is correct.

Step five

Read carefully through the lyrics and use a dictionary or Google translator to understand the words you don’t know. You may find  a translation of the lyrics into your language. If so, use that to help you.  Make a note in your vocab document or vocab book of words you think are useful for you to learn.

Step six

(Optional) On YouTube you can post a short comment about the song. Respond to something someone else has posted or simply say why you like the song or the band.

Top tips for listening to songs

  1. Listen to songs you like.
  2. Start with songs you think will be easier to understand.
  3. Don’t worry if the vocals are not always clear. Native speakers find it hard to catch all the words of a song when they hear it.
  4. Use the written lyrics and a translation if there is one available to help you understand.
  5. Listen a couple of times without the lyrics  to give yourself an opportunity to understand and practise your listening skills.
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4 Responses to Listening to a song in English

  1. gabby says:

    This is very similar to the way I learned vocab and pronunciation when I was learning English. If you’re a musical person, it’s not only a great way to learn vocab and pronunciation, but it’s also enjoyable!

    • diego says:

      I also learned vocab and pronunciation like this! and I agree that is really enjoyable, sometimes watching movies or tv series in english can be very confusing when you don’t know much, but with the music that you like is definitely more fun.

      • Thanks for your comment, Diego.

        What do you do with songs that helps with your pronunciation? Do you have any techniques that you use, such as repeating lines out loud, or do you just listen to the singer?
        And can you recommend any particular songs that make good learning experiences?

    • I quite agree, Gabby. I think that if we can find enjoyable activities that also help us practise our English, there’s no reason to stop! It sounds as if you have a rich ‘English language life‘. What other things do you do in English?

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