Wednesday, November 30, 2005

9 Reasons Why You Should Use Songs to Teach English as a Foreign Language

Using Songs to Teach Foreign Language

Language teachers can and should use songs as part of their classroom teaching repertoire. Songs contain authentic language, are easily obtainable, provide vocabulary, grammar and cultural aspects and are fun for the students. They can provide valuable speaking, listening and language practice in and out of the classroom. Some key reasons songs can work exceedingly well in the foreign language classroom include the following:

1. Songs almost always contain authentic, natural language
This often contrasts the contrived, stilted language found in many student texts. Of course songs can also go to the other extreme by using overly crude, foul or otherwise objectionable language. With careful screening, an extensive library of usable songs for language learning can be compiled.

2. A variety of new vocabulary can be introduced to students through songs
Looking to boost student vocabulary with useful phrases, vocabulary and expressions? Songs are almost always directed to the native-speaking population so they usually contain contemporary vocabulary, idioms and expressions.

3. Songs are usually very easily obtainable
Cibemba and Silozi non-withstanding, songs are usually not that difficult to obtain. Local sources may be available including the students themselves. There’s always the internet which can connect you with song downloads in all but the most obscure languages.

4. Songs can be selected to suit the needs and interests of the students
In English especially, so many songs are available that selection of songs with suitable themes, levels and vocabulary is not at all difficult. Allowances can also be made for complexity or simplicity of language, depending on the students, by selecting and using suitable songs.

5. Grammar and cultural aspects can be introduced through songs
Most if not all songs have a recurring theme or story. So excerpting cultural elements is usually a possible, but often overlooked aspect of using songs. I still use “Hit the Road Jack” sung by the late Ray Charles to illustrate spoken contractions. He uses spoken contractions is virtually every line of the song.

6. Time length is easily controlled
Whether you have an hour, 30 minutes, or only 15 minutes or so, a song can be used in the course of a planned lesson. Use of songs is very flexible.

7. Students can experience a wide range of accents
A good thing about songs is that you can expose the students to many different kinds of English. British English, American English, Caribbean English are all widely available through songs. Accents too are well represented by songs from different regions and in a variety of types and formats. Gospel, soul, R & B, Pop, Rock, Reggae, Jazz and other styles change not only accents, but vocabulary and usage too.

8. Song lyrics can be used in relating to situations of the world around us
Songs have been used as vehicles of protest for civil rights, workers rights, even prisoner’s rights along with an untold number of other causes. They’ve expounded on pollution, crime, war and almost every social theme or cause. We won’t even mention how many songs are about, related to or explore the theme of sex.

9. Students think songs are natural and fun
Well actually they are, aren’t they? Fun, even silly songs abound in English. Some singers actually made a career out of them. (Ray Stevens, anyone?) They make offbeat, fun changes of pace with classroom use.


These are only some of the many reasons songs are useful in the language learning classroom. They contain authentic language, are easily obtainable, provide vocabulary, grammar and cultural aspects and are fun for the students. They provide enjoyable speaking, listening, vocabulary and language practice both in and out of the classroom.
So EFL, English as a foreign language, ESL, English as a Second language and foreign language teachers should all consider using songs as a regular part of their classroom activities.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is a bi-lingual copywriter, expert author and photographer specializing in business, travel, food and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America, Mexico News and Brazil magazines. He now lives in Colombia and teaches at a university in Cali. Want lots more free tips, help and information on language learning, public speaking, writing and mental skills development? E-mail Prof. Larry M. Lynch at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com for professional consulting, EFL Teacher Training or ELT multi-media presentations at your conference or facility.

10 comments:

WebMarketing said...

Hi Larry. 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Songs to Teach English as a Foreign Language issues are so important and your post is aimed at all Americans and the world community. I just wanted to thank you Larry. Maybe build a down line isn't exactly related to your blog but I think that build a down line and other type problems that build a down line is looking at may just help. Keep up the great articles and blogs.

Best Affiliate Program said...

Hello Larry. Well this blog certainly is not about promotional programs. As we all know, the internet plays tricks on us sometimes. I have been looking online for about two hours researching promotional programs and stumbling across your blog. VERY GOOD! It's a welcome break. If you don't mind I'd like to add your blog to my favorites list so I can come back later on and read some more stuff. Well I guess I should get back to researching promotional programs. Even though my search is not on 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Songs to Teach English as a Foreign Language. I am glad I came across your blog. Keep blogging away!

Blogging Markets said...

Hi Larry. There are not too many good adlandpro and adlandpro related sites that aren't full of junk posts, search engine scraping and except for keyword stuffing, nothing useful related to adlandpro . It was nice to find an exception today when I happened upon your site. Keep it going.

Best Affiliate Program said...

Larry, I just happened to be surfing for business opportunity and business opportunity related sites and somehow ended here. Don't ask me how. I actually wasn't interested in 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Songs to Teach English as a Foreign Language until I accidentally got here and started reading. Got major sidetracked. - But that's ok! Well, best of luck and I'm back off looking for info on business opportunity.

Blogging Markets said...

Larry, I just happened to be surfing for advertising hits and advertising hits related sites and somehow ended here. Don't ask me how. I actually wasn't interested in 9 Reasons Why You Should Use Songs to Teach English as a Foreign Language until I accidentally got here and started reading. Got major sidetracked. - But that's ok! Well, best of luck and I'm back off looking for info on advertising hits .

answer-man said...

Hello just stopped by to view your blog and to let all interested know I am offering free plumbing repair information and safety tips for California residents and all others interested. If you are not interested then please excuse us and please disregard this comment.

For Plumbing Press Release and Free Plumbing Repair Information please feel free and stop by and read and take advantage of our blog info or viist **A-Affordableplumbing.Com** Thank you and have a great day.

vkk1_hypno said...

Just found your site. Well done! I like to blog around looking for relevant info and interesting sites like this one. If you get a chance it would be great if you looked at my site subliminal messages.

Paul Adams said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you, Blogger, a note telling you how impressed I was with
the information you have posted here.
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
games center
It covers games center related contents.
I send you warm regards and wish you continued success.

Maggs said...

Please visit Taylor Hollingsworth music site Taylor Hollingsworth who according to Allmusic.com is a vibrant mix of Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones and Pleased TO Meet Me Replacements which course through the standout rave-ups. When Hollingsworth gets his rock & roll elements right, he can create impressive, memorable music, and Tragic City holds enough excellent material to suggest that this Birmingham, AL, native has a very promising future. Listen to a clip from his latest cd Tragic City!

karl said...

Hi I enjoyed reading your blog! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a kindergarten phonics site. It relates to kindergarten phonics for mortgage brokers and loan officers.