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English Grammar in Songs

Updated on December 6, 2015

Are songs a great way to learn English?

Yes, to be honest it's a great and fun way to learn or teach a language. Music is a wonderful tool to break up the monotony of grammar books. The best part is that most learners will recognise the song when it is being played and suddenly start to connect the sound with the grammar point.

It doesn't just have to be Grammar, you can teach vocabulary as well if you want to vary the lesson. You can do a mixture, for example in the song 'Bullet' by Hollywood Undead you have a song full of American English, so you could highlight some differences between British and American English. This song is also packed with the 'future tense', Phrasal verbs and is also a song about suicide, so you could even use it to start a conversation topic about that. The uses and applications of music as a device for teaching are endless.

(photo by Davide Restivo)

How do you do it?

Well if you want to teach Vocabulary or Grammar you can remove some words and let the students fill in the gaps as a listening practice. If the song is too fast for them I always try to find an 'acoustic' version to make it easier as they tend to be a little slower and without so much background noise.

If you are learning on your own why not try to analyse the grammar and vocabulary in your favourite songs to see which tenses it is using or make sure you fully understand the lyrics. Sadly, all too often, when I lived in Brazil I went to weddings and heard songs that were not appropriate for these occasions because the couple liked the melody or the sound, but had not fully understood the lyrics.

You can also use it for pronunciation of a language. Singing is a great way to practise and train your voice. If you are shy or nervous find somewhere 'safe' like the shower to start, but in the class I make my students sing. I used to do it when I was learning Portuguese and the Brazilians often comment how my accent changes when I speak Portuguese and how good my pronunciation is... so sing along when you hear your favourite tune.

Present Simple - 'She Loves you' by The Beatles (for state verbs), 'From a distance' by Bette Midler

Present Continuous - Tom's Diner by Suzanne Vega

Past Simple - I will survive by Gloria Gaynor

Past Continuous - Jealous Guy by John Lennon

Present Perfect - 'We are the Champions' by Queen


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