Learn English with karaoke

Singing in a foreign language is one of the best ways to learn how to speak it. There are three reasons for this: 

  1. Studies have shown that music helps you learn, whether that's language, math, history, or pretty much anything else.
  2. Songs are a great way to learn vocabulary, pronunciation, and the rhythms of a language.
  3. It's fun! Learning is a lot easier when you're having fun.

Music and the brain

Many studies have proven the positive effect of music on learning. In her book, Music and Learning, Chris Boyd Brewer (international educator, author, and musician) explains how it works:

The soundtrack [music] increases interest and activates the information mentally, physically or emotionally. Music can also create a highly focused learning state in which vocabulary and reading material is absorbed at a great rate. When information is put to rhythm and rhyme, these musical elements will provide a hook for recall.

All of which is to say, setting things to music makes them easier to get into your brain and stay there. 

Lyrics and language

Studying lyrics gives you access to all sorts of vocabulary, especially idioms and natural phrases. Most popular songs use simple language that everyone knows. But a lot of songwriters use more poetic language with a broader vocabulary. Whatever sorts of words you want to learn, you can find a song that uses it!

Pop music is great for romance vocabulary; country music talks about love, loss, and booze; and hip-hop/rap gives you lots of urban slang. And, of course, rock music covers it all.

Listening to songs is also a way to practice pronunciation. Sometimes singers use a style that makes it hard to hear the lyrics clearly, or the words go by so fast you can't follow them (this is particularly true in rap and hip-hop). But most singers use either a British or an American accent when they sing in English, so find songs with easy-to-hear pronunciation and practice along with them.


When you listen to a song over and over again, and then sing it over and over again, the lyrics will be stuck in your brain like super glue. And all those natural phrases will be ready for you to use when talking. It's like those songs that children sing to learn the alphabet. I still sometimes sing through it if I'm not sure which letter comes next:

Hm, does "p" come before or after "o"? Let me see... "A-b-c-d-e-f-g, h-i-j-k-lmnop"— right, "p" comes after "o". Got it!

When you learn any song, the same thing happens. When words are set to music, your brain can sing them back to you when you need them. And what better way to do that than karaoke!

So choose a song, study it until you can sing it with your eyes closed (so you don't have to try to follow the words on a screen), and then find yourself a microphone! If you'd like, you can post a video of yourself performing it on our Instagram feed.

hook [noun] /hʊk/—something attached to an idea in your brain, making it easy to remember. In music, a "hook" is a repeated phrase or tune that catches and holds your attention.