Improving your Listening with Songs

Music is a great language package that bundles culture, vocabulary, listening, grammar and a host of other language skills in just a few rhymes. What you should pay attention to:


English has special sounds that many other languages do not have. But more importantly, English has special sound combinations. The patterns of sounds in English is different from many other languages. English probably has different sound patterns than your language. The same is true for rhythm.


The rhythms of English may be different from your language. English rhythm speeds up and slows down. There are fast beats and slow beats.


Chunks are the words that you can put together with one special meaning. When students hear English, they often have to think about each word. When I hear English, I think of the meaning that several words together. This makes it much easier for me to listen to English. Some of the chunks I hear also have reductions.


Reductions are words that are not completely said. They may have some sounds missing. They may have sounds changed. Or overlapping sounds. This makes English sound fast. It is easy to listen to if you study these reductions.

How to do it

Listen to the song two times and only focus on the elements above, do not read the lyrics or subtitles. You’ll notice that on the second time the sounds/words are easier to understand. On the third time, read the lyrics/subtitles as you watch/listen to the clip. Listen to/watch it a fourth time, once again without reading the subtitles.


The first times may be frustrating, but don’t give up. Practice is essential and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. There are thousands of songs on Youtube that come either with the lyrics (see the description) or subtitled. When you look for a song add the words “lyrics” and “subtitle” to your search. For more songs with subtitles:

Try it:

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