Music can be con­sidered a kind of uni­ver­sal lan­guage: it exists in all cul­tures and can be per­ceived regard­less of wheth­er you under­stand the nat­ive lan­guage of its cre­at­or. Music also plays an import­ant role in the study of for­eign lan­guages, as many people in awe of for­eign musician’s work were inspired to learn the lan­guage in which they perform.

Today, we will dis­cuss how hip-hop songs can help you get nat­ur­ally bet­ter at a chosen lan­guage by simply enjoy­ing music! Keep read­ing for more info and instructions.

H2: Why Learn Lan­guages via Hip-Hop Songs?

Songs are not an altern­at­ive to clas­sic text­books, but still, a great edu­ca­tion­al tool that com­bines study­ing with fun. You may be won­der­ing exactly how listen­ing to music can help you learn a new lan­guage. Let’s find out!

Train your listen­ing skills. By listen­ing to songs in a for­eign lan­guage, you will begin to bet­ter under­stand a lan­guage by ear in time. You will also get much bet­ter at telling apart accents.

Learn slang. Once you hear many hip-hop­pers, you’ll learn copi­ous slang words and enrich your speech with col­lo­qui­al­isms and jar­gon vocab­u­lary, idioms, phrasal verbs, etc.

Learn in con­text. Words are learned much faster via songs than via work­ing with a text­book or dic­tion­ary, as you will more likely remem­ber the con­text in which words were used, or even mem­or­ize entire phrases.

Repeat. Hip-hop is an espe­cially great learn­ing tool because of its repet­it­ive nature. Hear­ing the same words and phrases over and over again will help you mem­or­ize them faster and retain inform­a­tion longer.

Songs are rhymed. We all know that mem­or­iz­ing a rhymed text is much easi­er than prose.  


H2: Learn by Listen­ing To Hip-Hop: A Step-By-Step Guide


Now that we estab­lished that hip-hop songs can poten­tially help lan­guage learners, let’s decipher how one goes about bet­ter­ing their lan­guage skills through music.


Choose a song. Pick a song you genu­inely like and wish to learn more about.

Read lyr­ics. To under­stand songs fully, find their lyr­ics and famil­i­ar­ize your­self with them.

Check the lyr­ics’ trans­la­tion. It’s advis­able to look up the song’s trans­la­tion, but don’t expect to find a word-for-word one. Song trans­la­tions and oth­er types of text trans­la­tion are tricky, espe­cially if the lan­guage pair in ques­tion excludes Eng­lish. More com­plic­ated trans­la­tions often require a spe­cial­ist who can eas­ily per­form Swiss Ger­man trans­la­tion or handle any oth­er lan­guage combination.

Mark unfa­mil­i­ar words and look them up. This way you’ll have a clear­er idea about words, idioms, or slang terms you don’t understand.

Play a song repeatedly while read­ing lyr­ics along. Per­formers often heav­ily dis­tort some words or pro­nounce them dif­fer­ently due to their accents. If you simply try to per­ceive words by ear, you may end up mem­or­iz­ing them incorrectly.

Learn lyr­ics. After you have read and deciphered the lyr­ics, start mem­or­iz­ing them. If you mem­or­ize a song by heart, you are not likely to eas­ily for­get it.

Ana­lyze gram­mar. When you under­stand and mem­or­ize the text, ana­lyze its gram­mar. This way you learn recog­niz­ing rules (and lack there­of) of a lan­guage in live speech and apply them yourself.

Sing along. It’s import­ant to say lyr­ics out loud as you prac­tice – it will bene­fit your speak­ing. Try to main­tain the performer’s inton­a­tion, accent, and con­vey emotion.

Listen to songs every day. The more often you repeat a spe­cif­ic song, the faster and bet­ter you will remem­ber it.

Once you under­stand and mem­or­ize your favor­ite tracks you’ll be able to use words and whole phrases from them in your life without even noti­cing it!


H2: What to Watch Out For When Learn­ing From Hip-Hop Songs

We have already estab­lished that learn­ing through music is a sol­id idea, but it does have some hid­den dangers you bet­ter know about.

Messed-up gram­mar. Please note that most musi­cians dis­reg­ard gram­mar rules, so we advise you not to blindly trust in hip-hop lyr­ics’ accuracy.

Double neg­at­ives. Most hip-hop sing­ers and rap­pers love using double neg­at­ives, although it’s not strictly right. Watch out for phrases like “ain’t no”, “don’t have no”, “nobody isn’t”, etc. Song­writers some­times use such phrases to emphas­ize neg­at­ive mean­ing, but a lot of times they do it unintentionally.

Too much slang. Although know­ing typ­ic­ally used words and phrases is very handy and import­ant for hav­ing a well-spoken lan­guage, over­u­til­iz­ing them is not advis­ory. Those who rely on hip-hop music for their vocab­u­lary often have a hard time find­ing fit­ting words to describe some­thing, as their lex­icon is brim­ming with terms that often are inap­pro­pri­ate for a situ­ation they are in.


H2: Crank up the Tunes!

Every­one who is just start­ing to learn for­eign lan­guages is look­ing for hacks that will help them learn the lan­guage fast and with little effort. Although such an approach is rarely fruit­ful, listen­ing to music in a tar­get lan­guage is among the few “magic pills” that can actu­ally help you learn a new lan­guage effect­ively. There­fore, we will pre­scribe some good hip-hop tunes to you today so you can stream­line your lan­guage learning!

BIO: Merissa Moore

Merissa is an accom­plished con­tent cre­at­or who spent years per­fect­ing her craft while work­ing inter­na­tion­ally. She loves let­ting her read­ers in on the know­ledge she obtained, as well as col­lect­ing and ana­lyz­ing data to deliv­er con­densed value to her audi­ence. Her approach to writ­ing, unique style, and friendly rela­tions with read­ers make Merissa a sin­gu­lar spe­cial­ist. Besides work, Merissa also finds joy in read­ing poesy and flower arranging.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.