While we’ve written an article on how to learn languages with music and even covered the best websites for doing so, today I’d like to elaborate on how to use various English music genres to your advantage. Since there’s a plethora of English music out there, it can be hard finding the best artists and genres for actually learning the language. Even worse, it can be hard to find music you enjoy. And that’s where we come in — with this article on how to effectively learn English with music.
If you’d rather get your listening skills working right away, you can check this article out on our MosaLingua Language Lab podcast:
Great Artists and Genres to Learn English with Music
Here’s some English music we’ve found to be effective. We also explain how to use each artist and genre to improve the skills you need to target.
If you want to learn English with music, rock music and its many iterations are going to be crucial. For starters, most rock musicians sing in pretty standard dialects. I myself can never tell when a singer is British or American, and I’m a native speaker! So a basic form of the language is going to be huge, and the lyrics are an integral aspect of the genre. But in the end, classic rock is your best bet. Artists like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan have clearly understandable lyrics with great context and very (very) unique vocabulary.
Personally, I think Jimi Hendrix is wonderful for beginners. He intersperses lyrics in between some of the best guitar music of all time, and he keeps it short and sweet. Plus, you can count on learning tons of new words and phrases in each song. Bob Dylan is better suited for advanced speakers, due to the complexity of his lyrics. However, he’s a bit more understandable, so it really comes down to your own opinion. But that’s why rock music is so perfect for learning English with music.
A great avenue of finding pop music for learning English is checking out the Billboard Top 100 of each month. This way, you can find songs English speakers from all over the world relate to and find entertaining. Pop music is constantly changing, and new artists enter the scene every day. So by checking what’s on the top of the Billboard charts and looking for compilation albums, you can find new artists that you find helpful.
For those who are into electronic and pop, Churches (aka CHVRCHES) is great for learning English. Their singer’s voice is very crisp and pronounced. And most importantly, she tends to always sing with the same voice, which is highly beneficial. You’ll be able to quickly learn how she, a Scot, pronounces each word. This group is great for beginners looking to take their English skills up a notch, while advanced speakers can use their music for a bit of encouragement, since the lyrics aren’t all that hard to understand.
Best Album: Churches: Bones of What You Believe
If you’re studying abroad in the American South or have an interest in that dialect, modern country music is perfect for you. The everyday lyrics, slow speech and complete context of its songs are undeniably useful if you want to learn English with music. A perfect example of this is “Drunk on a Plane” by Dierks Bentley. Sure, it’s pretty funny, but it’s also slow enough to understand and you get a full story. What more could you need to learn a language?
Another great artist is Aaron Lewis, thanks to his understandable speech and brilliant songwriting. His music tends to be about everyday life (as with most country music). And his singing is quite slow, with just a hint of the Southern accent. He’s also a marvelous songwriter who offers a ton of context in his songs. Take “Massachusetts” and “Country Boy” for instance – slow, easy to understand and engrossing.
Hip-hop has a strong tradition of poetical lyrics, and this shines in older hip-hop. Much like rock, there’s a lot of variety in hip-hop, making it another versatile genre to learn English with music. However, the one downfall of hip-hop is that it’s honestly best for advanced learners.
If you’re looking to expand not just your vocabulary, but also your understanding of English’s inner workings, hip-hop is a good choice. Artists like Tupac and Eminem are masterminds of the English language, and you can certainly benefit from some of their highly-acclaimed songwriting. It can be a bit abrasive at times, but the naturalness and context of these artists’ lyrics are valuable for language learning. Tupac is best for his linguistic capabilities, while Eminem is a great way to practice faster speech.
Bonus Video: How to Learn English with Music
Choosing music to learn with is only the first step! Check out Abbe’s video about how to turn a passion for music into a language learning tool. Watch it on YouTube or right here. The video is in English, but there are subtitles in several languages if you need them. You can also slow the video down in the settings (gear icon at the bottom of the video).
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Help us out! In the comments section, let us know which artists or genres you’ve found to be effective for learning English!
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