Using music to learn language?

I wish to freshen up my German learning and i am wondering if anyone has received any benefits using music to improve? The idea being, importing the lyrics and their translation into LingQ and then listening to the audio on my laptop/phone. This i feel would be far more enjoyable than listening to dialogue.

The only real question i have is while this is good for increasing vocabulary, how good it is for increasing listening skills and the ability to construct sentences? Bearing in mind words that are sung have a different sound to when they are spoken.

The band Rammstein have an extensive back catalogue with over 100 songs. If i imported all these into LingQ and learned the words, do you think this would give me a significant improvement or do i have to mainly work on authentic spoken dialogue to reach the next level?

A sample of a song…

Wer zu Lebzeit gut auf Erden
wird nach dem Tod ein Engel werden
den Blick gen Himmel fragst du dann
warum man sie nicht sehen kann

Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein

Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein

I find that it’s not very effective compared to other methods when it comes to listening, vocabulary acquisition and growing used to grammar. However, I engage in it. One might wonder why, if I feel it’s not very effective. I’ll explain.

I’m a singer and play multiple instruments. I learn songs to be able to perform them. It’s great fun being able to sing and play the songs I’ve been listening to for quite some time.

Before I get to that stage, I make sure I understand all of what’s going on in the song, and I make sure my pronunciation is right. When you sing a song, as a singer, you need to be confident you’ve got it right. (Which is why learning phonetics and IPA are basically universal for all classical singers).

How useful is this for non-musicians or those not wishing to learn to perform the songs? I think it’s less productive, but would still be useful is the analysis is done. Look up the words, find out the strange grammar and words. Hopefully someone else can give a better perspective from the other side.

At the end of the day, listening to music you like, is just good fun in any case. I can’t see the harm.

Thank for you input there.

Can anybody else share an opinion or experience with music as a learning tool?

Hi Jamie, as a native speaker of German I think the idea to use Rammstein is nothing I would support.

For example:
Wer zu Lebzeit gut auf Erden → sound archaic. Nobody would use this in our days.
wird nach dem Tod ein Engel werden → Grammar ok
den Blick gen Himmel fragst du dann → ‘gen’ is rarely used today
warum man sie nicht sehen kann → Grammar ok

Other problems are sometimes strange intonations (to make it sound better) and limited or strange vocabulary. Grammar is often not proper to make rhymes.

I think music can make you love the language but it is not effective to teach you the language. Use music for motivational aspects and for fun, but don’t rely on music.

I understand why people like the music of Rammstein, but rock music is usually not the best choice if you want to learn a language by music.

Some time ago I created a list of musicians with meaningful texts but it is mainly pop and soul music:

Interview with Susanna Zaraysky.
She is a polyglot and she learn languages using music.
Very insightful interview.

I much prefer something like Subway to Sally. Ramstein is a bit…tasteless… :smiley:

It’s funny what you say about grammar not being ‘proper’ to make things rhyme, Veral. If we were talking about classical Greek here, then it would simply be accepted as a part of the language. Perhaps that view would be more acceptable if we were looking back at German from thousands of years in the future.

To anyone who has made some ground studying the language, they will pick up on these things. A beginner will not be able to distinguish between poetic licence and the accepted grammatical norms.

@ Vera

I don’t pay any attention to grammar yet anyway. It makes no sense to me and I won’t bother with it until I know the language a lot better. With this in mind, how is music for just increasing vocabulary and training the ear? Rammstein don’t actually ‘sing’ anyway, it’s more like drawn out speech.

Surely it is better to spend a month listening to music then spend a month bored of dialogue and tuning out every 5 minutes? i can’t see how I can improve quickly by being bored…

My advice would be to go with what interests you! If it works for YOU, then it is the right approach. If songs hold your interest, go for it.

There is some good stuff in Vera’s spreadsheet if you want to have slightly more demanding lyrics.

Though you obviously have to supplement music with other, more structured material eventually, I’m a big fan of using it to get going with a language. I started learning French by importing song lyrics and the corresponding mp3 into Lingq, and while that method definitely has its limitations it helped me a good deal in building up my vocabulary and training my ear to hear individual words (before that French just sounded like a lot of mumbling to me).

So, yeah. Why not give it a shot?

@ pink daisy

What a brilliant game!

@ Klc


As said before, if you enjoy it then do it. But you have to add meaningful content as well. And I’m still not convinced that the lyrics of Rammstein are a good choice. Too strange words and lyrics. Lots of words you’ll usually not need in real life :slight_smile:

Guitario, I just thought I’d let you know that as a tutor I’ve been taken by surprise by students who unexpectedly knew turns of expressions or the meaning of idioms they’d learnt through songs. One guy who was particularly astute knew all the Business English buzz words and idiomatic terms although his grammar wasn’t particularly up to scratch; each time I asked him how he knew the expression, he’d tell me which song it was in. He really knew the lyrics; it was very impressive. Indeed, when mentioning the subjunctive form to a Dutch student I was tutoring in French last week, she surprised me by saying: “ben, oui, il faut que tu saches…” When I asked her how she knew she mentioned Celine Dion’s song.

As a student, I haven’t tried this method, but as a tutor I have been very impressed as to how effective it seems to be for others. This method used in combination with other methods might work a real treat. I am currently actively learning German, I’m at the very beginning of my journey, started actively just over a month ago, but making great headway, and you are refreshing your German and have raised this idea. As you seem so inclined why not give it a shot and tell me how it went.

Bis bald :wink:

@ Vera

I understand but you could argue that even though i may not use a lot of words, knowing them will make it easier to read texts. Here is a passage from my favourite Rammstein song.

Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein

Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein

This seems normal grammar to my eyes, athough I admit I am no expert.

@ Maria

I think it can be good for idioms and expressions that can make you seem more in tune with the language.

What I think I will do, is soon I will start on French as I wish to kickstart my third language, and I will ‘cruise’ German in the meantime by using music and importing the lyrics into LingQ.

I just realised something else. In songs, the verses/choruses repeat several times. So every 3/4 minutes you hear the same passage maybe 3/4 times. Also I have found that remembering words is easier when there is a melody behind them… we all know how some annoying songs get stuck in our heads! :slight_smile:


Exactly. Repetition is the key.