Songs are one of the best ways for your children to improve their English. They’re widely available for free on the internet, can be relaxing or stimulating, and provide a break from regular textbooks. More importantly, they help increase understanding and fluency of English. Here are some suggestions for improving their English through songs.
- Listening skills
One of the easiest things to do with a song your child likes is to get them to analyse the lyrics to find out what it’s about. You can help them to look up the lyrics on YouTube and listen, read and sing along. Or, you could print out the lyrics for the kids to guess the meanings of some of the words. Once they are more familiar with the song, you can use an interactive and fun website which plays music videos and asks you to fill in the gaps as you listen. Try www.lyricstraining.com or www.lyricsgaps.com.
Songs are rich in vocabulary. Children’s songs include many vocabulary sets, for example, body parts in “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”, actions in “Wheels On The Bus” and many more. There are songs about food, dinosaurs and even the planets. Try www.bussongs.com and learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org for more children’s songs and videos. Pop songs are also full of vocabulary. “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure mentions all the days of the week.
Songs are a great way to hear the pronunciation of English sung in American or British accents. They can try to copy the pronunciation when singing. Also they will pick up features of connected speech, such as linking, where the last sound of one word runs into the next. You can hear an example of this in “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Many songs also use rhyming in the verses which can help with phonics practice. “Every Breathe You Take” by The Police includes many examples of rhyming words.
Songs that are catchy will stay in your head for days. Repetition helps children to memorise words and phrases which will improve their fluency. Children can also try writing an extra verse to a song they know. “This Is The Way” or “Wheels On The Bus” are good for young children. Older children could try songs like “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
- Cultural knowledge
Music is a big part of British and American culture. By engaging with songs, students of English can have greater understanding about cultural life in these countries. There are songs for holidays, for example, Christmas, birthday, Halloween etc. There are even songs for sporting events like the World Cup!
Above all songs are fun! They can take a break from studying. Children can sing their favourite songs on karaoke. They can learn actions and dance moves to the songs. Look up the dances on the ‘Just Dance’ YouTube channel for some inspiration!