Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Music Websites For Learning English

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'Singing In The Rain Umbrellas' photo (c) 2012, Andy Roberts - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Check out my New York Times post for English Language Learners focuses on using music for language development and includes a student interactive, video, and teaching ideas.

I use music a lot in my teaching of English Language Learners.   I thought people might find it helpful to see which sites I believe to be the best out there to help teach English — Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced – through music.   My students have certainly found them helpful.

Music is a familiar, fun, and engaging tool to use in learning a second language.  This list includes sites that have music to listen to, activities for students to do, and ways for them to create their own.

This is latest of my “The Best…” series, also known as Websites Of The Year.  The sites on this list can be found, along with 8,000 other categorized links, on my website.  I am also in the process of designing a special page on my website so that it’s easy for students to access my lists of The Best Websites on their own.

You might also be interested in an interview I did about using music in the ESL/EFL classroom.

Lastly, you might find these other “The Best…” lists useful:

The Best Music Websites For Learning English
The Best Online Sites For Creating Music
The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners
Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Music Sites
The Best Places To Get Royalty-Free Music & Sound Effects
The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web
The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments
The Best — And Easiest — Ways To Use YouTube If, Like Us, Only Teachers Have Access To It

Here are what I believe to be the thirteen (well, really fifteen) best music websites for learning English:

Number thirteen is the Music Page from the Language Guide, the best audio/picture dictionary on the Web for English Language Learners.  It’s obviously important for students to understand some basic music vocabulary.

Number twelve is Musical English Lessons International.  This site has an enormous number of ready-to-print activities that students can use to develop their English skills while listening to music.

The English Language Listening Lab Online, also known as ELLO, has a good Music page that I’m ranking eleventh.   Students can listen to pop tunes and many, but not all, have follow-up exercises that can be accessed by clicking on “Word Challenge.”

Number ten is a new site called Lyrics Mode.  This is clearly the best source for accurate song lyrics to print-out without having to put-up with countless annoying pop-up adds that are prevalent in other lyrics sites.

I’m very tentatively naming another new site called Songza as a sort of companion on this list to Lyrics Mode, though I’m not giving it a “formal” rank.  Songza has millions of songs you can play “on-demand,” including many that I use in my teaching.  You can also create your own “playlists.”  It’s an incredible resource to be able to use in your classroom.  However, even though everything I have read about Songza and several similar sites in numerous blogs and journals doesn’t give any indication of potential legal issues, I still don’t understand how they can offer this service without violating copyright laws.   Until that’s clearer in my mind I don’t feel I can give it an official spot on my list.

Number seven is EFL Club Songs, which has been a favorite of my students.  It, too, has clozes to be completed while listening to popular songs.

Number six is off-line.

The site originally ranked number five on this list has unfortunately gone off-line.

I’m putting My Pop Studio at number four.  Students can create their own recording artist, the music and the lyrics.  It’s a real fun activity.

Number three are actually two musical games created by Luke Whittaker — The Sound Factory and Break In The Road.  They also both made it near the top of my Best Online Learning Games list.

The original sites rated first and second on this list have unfortunately gone out of business. But you might want to check-out The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners.

Using Songs In The English Classroom by Hans Mol, a teacher in Australia, is a short article that was just published in Humanising Language Teaching Magazine (which is on The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers list). It gives a very good overview of different language-development activities that can be done with music.

Mondos: Song Lessons offers a lot of excellent song-related activities for English Language Learners.

Meltinpop is a new site dedicated to what they call “free association.” Users identify “themes” related to anything they are interesting in — songs related to food, movie scenes with car chases, scenes from television shows about doctors, etc. Other users then respond with their suggestions. It’s got quite a few “themes” already started. This could be very handy for ESL/EFL teachers looking for multimedia to connect to the thematic unit or specific lesson they want to teach. You can only log-in through Facebook, so it probably wouldn’t be workable for student use.

Teaching English through songs in the digital age is a four part series by Vicky Saumell summarizing a recent #ELTchat session on Twitter. I can’t imagine you’d find a better compilation of resources and teaching ideas anyway — it’s a must-read and must-bookmark resource.

And, if that isn’t enough for you, Eva Büyüksimkeşyan has also posted another exhaustive list of music-related resources: Songs in EFL Classroom.

About two months ago, our District changed its policy and allowed teachers to access many previously-blocked site, including YouTube. It really expands learning opportunities for our students in so many ways. I wanted to share two great music sites we can now use with our students:

One is Lyrics Training. It shows YouTube videos of the latest popular songs, and provides subtitled “clozes.” In other words, it will show the words as they are sung, but it will periodically show a “blank” where a word has been removed. The video will stop at the end of that line, and listeners have to type in the correct word that they heard. The “blank” also shows how many letters there are in the missing word. You’re given the option of watching the video with a few blanks, more blanks, or none (which is great after you complete the whole song). It’s great to project it up on the screen and then have students — either individually or in small groups — use small whiteboards to write down their answers. It’s simple to use — no registration is necessary — and you can learn more about it at Teacher Training Videos.

Batlyrics has been on The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web list for awhile. It shows the lyrics on the side while playing a YouTube video of the song at the same time. Now that we can access YouTube, it’s great to have a full sing-along.

Classroom Songs: 16 Creative Ways lists some good ways to use music in the ESL/EFL classroom.

I’m making some new additions to this list focused on research that supports using music in the classroom:

Effectiveness of Music on Vocabulary Acquisition, Language Usage, and Meaning for Mainland Chinese ESL Learner

Using Music in the Adult ESL Classroom. ERIC Digest.

ESL Through Music

David Deubelbeiss has developed another great resource for ESL/EFL teachers — tons of music videos with lyric sheets, including clozes.

Using Songs in the EFL Classroom is an online presentation by David Deubelbeiss

David Deubelbeiss recently revamped the music lyrics search on EFL Classroom 2.0.

clubEFL has the Picture Dictionary, that has mostly YouTube music videos and interactive exercises.

David Deubelbeiss from EFL Classroom 2.0 has put together an extraordinary music resource — a collection of all EFL Clasroom 2.0 song + lyric sheet materials.

The British Council reorganized their website awhile back, and now that have all their songs for English Language Learners (including closed-captioning) all in one place. It’s an excellent resource.

10 Reasons why Songs with Subtitles make Sense comes from The British Council.

David Deubelbeiss has put together a great virtual online book of songs and videos for ELLs.

Results of a new study will come as no surprise to anyone who teaches a second language: “Singing can help when learning a foreign language.”

Of course, having a little more research to back you up if people question the melodic tones coming from your classroom can’t hurt. Even more info on the study is here.

Using Music and Songs in EFL Classes is the theme of the 33rd ELT Blog Carnival, and it’s a good one! Eva Buyuksimkesyan has gathered contributions from English teachers throughout the world on the topic, and it’s so good that I’m adding it to this list.

10 Reasons why Songs with Subtitles make Sense is from The British Council.

“Lyrics Videos” On YouTube & English Language Learners

The Top 10 Reasons To Use Songs In The Classroom is by David Deubelbeiss.

How To Teach English Using Music is from English Lane.

L Teachers & Students Will Love MusiXmatch – It Provides Karaoke-Style Lyrics To Most YouTube Music Videos

10 Ways To Use Songs In The EFL Classroom is from Lyrical English.

Songs and Activities for English Language Learners is a new and useful website full of resources.

So goes another “The Best…” list.  If you liked this post, consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

18 Comments

  1. Great work Larry, a usual. Just a detail. You seemed to get tangled when linking and both numers 12 and 11 links lead you to the same site.
    Very best!

  2. Hi Larry,

    This is a great list. I’d love to add Flocabulary to the mix – http://www.flocabulary.com. We teach language through hip-hop and have products that are being used in thousands of schools worldwide. Our music has been featured on MTV and CNN. I hope your readers will check it out.

    Thanks again for compiling this great resource.

  3. Hi Larry,

    I agree with the above comments – a really helpful list for anyone looking to expand their English vocabulary. I would also like to point out that a new children’s English product due to launch in China called Pingu’s English (http://www.pingusenglish.com/) incorporates music into its syllabus. This helps to keep the children focused on what they are learning in a fun and interactive way.

    I’ll be sure to check out some of the sites you highlight in your piece!

  4. This is wonderful. There are few examples of integrating music into the curriculum. Great work assembling this list!

  5. Thanks Larry

    Top 10 Lyric Search Engines
    From Wendy Boswell

    Searching for lyrics to a song can be a daunting task, but not with these Top Ten Lyric Search Engines. Find a song lyric, do a song search by lyric, and more. Find the song lyrics you’re searching for on the Web quickly and easily!
    1. Get Lyrical – a Lyrics Search Engine
    Get Lyrical is an excellent lyrics search engine. You can search by song lyric, artist, song, or album. And if you still can’t find the song you’re looking for in their excellent (and sizable) lyrics database, you can check out the Get Lyrical Message Boards and ask the community there to help you figure out a song lyric. Fast and easy lyric search, good, relevant results – I highly recommend Get Lyrical for your lyric search needs.
    Sponsored Links
    Looking for Song & Lyrics
    Song, Lyrics, Poems $100,000 prizes Get songs to Grammy award winners
    http://www.lyriccontest.com

    Search Phrase
    Keyword Research Tool, Top Tier Search Engines keywords, Free Trial
    KeywordDiscovery.com

    Domain Name Search
    Find Domain Name Search Engines. Search Domain Name Search Engines.
    AllAbout-DomainNameSearch.info

    2. Lyrics Robot-Lyrics Search Engine
    The thing I like most about Lyrics Robot is their absolutely huge artist directory. Just click on any of the alphabet letters on the Lyrics Robot home page and you’ll retrieve a wide range of artists. Lyrics Robot claims to have “3 Million Entries – 500,000 Songs – 40,000 Artists”, which is obviously a lot. The lyric search process seems a bit clunky, but I was still able to find some good answers. Sort your lyric search results by site to get a more organized lyric search results page.
    3. LyricSearch.net-Song Lyrics Search Engine
    Search over 100,000 songs with LyricSearch.net. I was able to find good results with my search for what the world needs now, including other songs and albums of Burt Bacharach that I didn’t even know existed. All lyric search results for LyricSearch.net open in a new window;I didn’t much like this but it’s a small issue. Good index of lyrics and easily implemented lyric search.
    4. MetroLyrics-A Lyric Search Engine and More
    MetroLyrics features over 262,000 music lyrics (that’s quite a few), but even better than MetroLyrics lyric search are the various music categories that they have available, such as list of artists by music genre, Top 100 Most Popular lyrics, and Christmas music, which at the time of this writing spanned over 20 jam-packed pages.
    5. My Lyrics Finder -MLFinder-Lyrics Search Engine
    Simple and uncluttered, MLFinder delivers fast and relevant results with a few little extras: look at your lyric search results and you’ll see when that song was added, an opportunity to buy the song lyric (sheet music), buy posters of the artist, or send that lyric to a friend. MLFinder has “10,000+ artists – 1,000,000+ song lyrics & growing.” Don’t forget to check out the Billboard Hot 100; click on any of the song URL’s and you’ll be taken to that song’s lyrics.
    6. Rock Wisdom-Song Quotes Search
    Rock Wisdom features an immense database of song quotes-”the main purpose of this collection of quotes from Rock and Roll music is to celebrate and provide a documented reference to an under appreciated form of literature.” You can search by subject, search by artist,browser through popular artists, get a random rock quote, or look up the full lyrics (this links to outside sites). Over 70 categories of Rock Wisdom goodness; this site is an online archive of sorts for rock and roll history.
    7. Lyrical Discord-Lyrics Database
    Search lyrics by artist, song, or keyphrase with Lyrical Discord. The most popular songs are featured right on the front page. here’s an example of what I liked most about Lyrical Discord-I did a search for hard day’s night and not only did it bring up the classic Beatles song, but also other song lyrics in that album, all song lyrics by that artist and other albums by that artist. A nice touch for anyone who’s not looking for song lyrics alone.
    8. A to Z Lyrics Universe
    A to Z Lyrics Universe features over 50,000 searchable song lyrics. You can browse by artist or band name in their alphabetical directory, or you can just type in a lyric snippet. Song lyrics results will open up in a new window. A to Z Lyrics Universe features mostly newer songs from the year 2000 and up; lots of hip-hop, Top 40 kind of stuff here.
    9. SongMe.com-Lyrics Search Engine
    In addition to a strong lyric search experience (over 74,000 songs indexed at the time of this writing), Songme.com also offers some unique user features such as artist birthdays displayed on the front page, DailyKeys, links to the most popular song requests by day, and a list on the far left side of the Top 20 Albums (with links to these albums lyrics) on Songme.com.
    10. Lyrics Spot.com-Lyrics Search, Album Covers
    Lyrics Spot not only has a sizable database of lyrics-over 160,000 at the time of this writing-but they offer CD cover images of whatever artist you’re looking for as well. Search by artist, album or song, browse the alphabetical directory, check out Lyrics Spot’s top songs, or check out the Billboard Top 12 albums, with links to song lyrics.

    (source about.com)

  6. Pingback: Using Music to help English Language Learners « Blogana-nut, Blogberry, and Bloglate-chip Muffins

  7. Pingback: Music: The Ultimate Tool

  8. bueno, soy profe de inglés en Colombia y encuentro muy inspirador su trabajo, pues muchas gracias por compartir esos links. I think they can be really useful!

  9. Pingback: efl-resource.com » ELT news feed » Music in ELT resources

  10. I have been looking for music that my students can relate to and get excited about that can help teach content. I looked at some of your suggestions and they are great!

  11. Pingback: ESL Resources on Twitter | LangCanada Blog

  12. It’s a brilliant idea Larry. This technique is helpful for learning English and develops vocabulary. Music will helps to everyone to learning in a funny and attractive way.

  13. Good afternoon Larry and thanks for your suggestions!I’ve just read this page and I find it of relevance for all those, like me, who believe in the power of music to motivate students. Personally I choose one hit almost every week and then I prepare one worksheet for my students. I post it on my blog (http://singalongwithit.blogspot.com) and I exchange tips, ideas, comments with other teachers and learners.
    What I like is the fact that contemporary songs offer lots of new words and expressions that are not even enlisted by dictionaries, so that everyone can constantly improve his/her vocabulary day by day! All the Best, Marilena.

  14. dear Larry,
    I just fell in love with your blog!!!
    I am dropping you this message on behalf of the Engish staff at the Centro Superior de Estudios Turisticos Jalapa and Departamento de Lenguas Extranjeras de Jalapa. We would like to invite you to take part in video conferences so that you cn share all your knowledge with our 700 students.( via skype or another gadget )
    thanks a lotfor reading our message!!!
    look forward to hearing from you,
    francis ronzon
    English staff co ordinator
    ps. if you know other esl teachers interested , let us know

  15. Great resource Larry, thanks.

    Do you keep this list updated anywhere? Maybe a shared doc others could add to and add reviews to?

  16. Hi Larry, thanks for including English Lane.
    By the way, this is an excellent list, and I’ve find some very useful blogs and articles.

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