Useful song lyrics for English learners and teachers

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Isn’t it better to learn or teach the English language while you’re enjoying yourself? Listening to songs with English lyrics is a great way of boosting skills, confidence and pronunciation.

Common expressions, everyday language, descriptive words and metaphors are all part of the English language and can be found in almost all song lyrics. There’s something infectious about music – it gets in our heads – and maybe that’s why using it to learn English can be both fun and effective.

Recently, Pearson English blog readers told us about the music that they have found to be both inspiring and useful for improving their English. Here, we present some more suggestions from readers of song lyrics for English learners and teachers.

Simply the Best – Tina Turner

Blog reader Benjamin Lütgebüter recommends this song for practising comparatives and superlatives, though he points out that he actually prefers a version of the song that was used in a television advert that was aired during the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

You’re simply the best
Better than all the rest
Better than anyone
Anyone I ever met
I’m stuck on your heart
I hang on every word you say
Tear us apart
Baby, I would rather be dead

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack

We have to agree with Anthony Gaynor, who loves this song for its emotional impact. The simplicity of the language makes it a favourite with Anthony to use with his learners – he says that many of them have been reduced to tears by its beauty and fragility.

The first time ever I saw your face
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the night and the empty skies, my love
To the night and the empty skies

To an Air Hostess – Clifford T Ward

Clifford T Ward has a wide range of beautifully written and clearly pronounced songs, says blog reader Nicholas Lopez Lusty. This makes To an Air Hostess and Open University perfect songs for English language learners. He even recommends using the songs in combination with plays and movies.

Walking through the terminal
I saw something beautiful
You left, for your duty call
Next time getting on the plane
That’s when I see you again
I can’t get you off my brain

If I Were a Boy – Beyoncé

Cecília Domingos uses this song with her students to work on the second conditional (used to talk about unlikely situations). Cecília also asks her learners to write their own versions, with the girls staying with the original version and the boys writing If I Were a Girl. Cecília says it’s an entertaining and amusing lesson to teach.

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man
I’d listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
Cause he’s taken you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed

It’s Late – Ricky Nelson

As a general rule, Christine Thabet finds that older songs are better for teaching purposes because the lyrics are less likely to be offensive and the words are easier to hear. A recent successful song lesson used this song by Ricky Nelson – it has a good rhythm and it describes a situation experienced by many teenagers. Christine also recommends songs that tell a story, such as Tell Laura I Love Her by Ray Peterson, She’s Leaving Home by the Beatles, or Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean.

It’s late (it’s late)
We gotta get on home
It’s late (it’s late)
We’ve been gone too long
Too bad (too bad)
We should a checked our time
Can’t phone (can’t phone)
We done spent every dime

What are your favourite songs with English lyrics? Let us know in the comments section below…

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