Learn languages by memorizing rhymed poems is about pro/cons of using poems to learn a language.

What about using songs? Songs might use more modern language, avoiding the cons mentioned for poems.

Wikipedia suggest the earworm effect exists, and earwormslearning.com website sells a product (and has some science linked). But of course any science linked from a vendor website is suspect.

Is there any research about using songs to learn a language and developing the speaking skills? Songs do no have to be earworms.

I know from my personal experience, that Beatles helped me to learn English, and AZLyrics.com has the lyrics for all the songs I ever wanted (I wanted mostly Beatles tho :-) so not sure about all other groups).

Possibly related: Can possibly songs help with learning English stress-timed rhythm? I can split it to separate question if it is separate enough.

4 Answers 4


There is plenty of research on this topic. The Use of Music for Learning Languages: A Review (Stansell) asserts that (emphasis mine):

The researchers in this literature review show conclusively that music and language should be studied together. Music‟s success is due, in part, to primal human abilities. Music codes words with heavy emotional and contextual flags, evoking a realistic, meaningful, and cogent environment, and enabling students to have positive attitudes, self-perceptions, and cultural appreciation so they can actively process new stimuli and infer the rules of language. The universal element of music can make the artificial classroom environment into a “real” experience and make new information meaningful, bringing interest and order to a classroom.


One area to focus upon would be the use of music for instruction in grammar. Whereas it takes little preparation to utilize songs for active class involvement, phrase and vocabulary acquisition, cultural appreciation, and pronunciation, grammar is seldom considered an issue that music can benefit.


This author has developed a new curriculum for teaching the Czech language, which has students learning simple sentences with books of family pictures, singing five-part canons with grammar concepts embedded in them, chanting the pronoun endings of prepositional phrases,rhythmically moving, listening to different instruments, listening and reading, and having dialogue with native speakers. This system, the Phrase-Exemplar-based Multisensory Method (PEBMSM) has been used by language trainers, but is primarily intended to be a demonstration of the possible uses of music in a language learning context.

Why Use Music in English Language Learning? A Survey of the Literature (Engh) provides that (emphasis mine):

The use of rhythm and rhyme to assist auditory recall has also been studied, and the multimodal combination of rhythm, melody and rhyme along with linguistic prosody appears to lead to greater retention (Graham, 1992; Palmer & Kelly, 1992).


Murphey (1989) provides potential evidence regarding why music effectively assists in lexical and phrasal recall in noting the resemblance of songs to conversational discourse and suggests they are linguistically processed in a similar manner.

Music in the language classroom may also be utilized with an explicit vocabulary and grammar focus (Richards, 1969; Saricoban & Metin, 2000) and used to reinforce either grammar or pronunciation points (Allen & Vallette, 1977). Pronunciation and phonology are a natural use of songs in the aid of second language acquisition (Schön et al, 2008), and Leith (1979) states:

…there is probably not a better nor quicker way to teach phonetics than with songs. Phonetics instruction is one good use to which songs can be put even in beginning classes (540). The repetitive nature of songs makes them effective use for pronunciation drills (Bartle, 1962; Techmeier, 1969; Shaw, 1970) and lastly, it is argued that songs contextually introduce supra-segmental features (Lems, 2001; Wong and Perrachione, 2006), which aids in the learning of patterns for word identification.

Overall, the results are clear in suggesting use of music and song in the language-learning classroom is both supported theoretically by practicing teachers and grounded in the empirical literature as a benefit to increase linguistic, sociocultural and communicative competencies. From an educational standpoint, music and language not only can, but should be studied together.


I am not familiar with any research, but I did teach Spanish using current popular songs in Spanish and used them as dictations. I would print the lyrics and place a blank where some words were. I would use this as a "warm-up" at the beginning of class, giving them the lyrics and playing the music.

Then we would discuss the song and what it said, applying and learning new vocabulary. I had a good response to this and thought the students learned a lot about culture, vocabulary and building listening skills.


Music is a very good way to learn languages. It teaches you a lot of vocab that you wouldn't see in a textbook.

It helps you to get a grasp of the way the language is spoken by native speakers.

I have used this method to learn quite a lot of German. I personally like their rap music as it is easier to distinguish the words and follow along with what they are saying.


i used to teach excellerated learning and i used music singing and dancing as a punishment would make each class a game and then give students points it was a fun and fast way to learn!! but need at least a class of 3 for it to be effective

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