Accessibility links

Breaking News

Are You Learning English? These Songs May Help

Cookie Monster and friends from "Sesame Street Live" in New York last February to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the touring stage shows
Cookie Monster and friends from "Sesame Street Live" in New York last February to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the touring stage shows

Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.


Songs teach language. Consider a song like "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega. An American teaching English overseas once told us that students love it.


Recently we asked people on Facebook to suggest other songs that English learners might like.

Noemi Nito wrote: I'm one of those English students who love "Tom's Diner." I started learning English with "Lemon Tree" by Fool's Garden.

Another person, Asi Tambunan, suggested the song "God Only Knows" by Orianthi.


Gyongyi Jako wrote that ABBA's songs from Sweden are perfect for class work. Also, the Beatles and John Lennon, as well as Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World."

Paul Cifuentes says Bob Marley's songs are amazing for teaching. But another teacher, Joseph Deka, says songs by Johnny Cash have always worked in his classroom. He says his students can hear the words, plus the songs often have stories. But he says young children love "C Is for Cookie" by Cookie Monster from the TV show "Sesame Street."


Aurelio Lourenco Costa Gusmao says he began to like English after his teacher played the Westlife song "I Have a Dream": That was eight years ago. I was in the seventh grade. And from that day on, my dream of improving my English skills became attached in my mind.

Teachers can use this song to convey the message to their students that they should have their own dream for the future.

Aurelio's story was no surprise to another commenter, Katie Kivenko: When you listen to your favorite songs, you feel emotionally high and it moves you to action.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can share other music suggestions for English learners at or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.


Among the suggestions posted at

Asi Tambunan: "God Only Knows" by Orianthi

Paul Cifuentes: Songs by Bob Marley

Joseph Deka: Songs by Johnny Cash, "We Will Rock You" by Queen, "C Is for Cookie" by Cookie Monster, "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston

Risa Widya Pertiwi: "ABC Song"

Aurelio Lourenco Costa Gusmao: "I Have a Dream" by Westlife

Gyongyi Jako: Songs by ABBA, the Beatles and John Lennon, Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World"

Katie Kivenko: Songs by Michael Jackson and Queen

Noemi Nito: "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, "Lemon Tree" by Fool's Garden, "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden

Nina John Smith: "It's My Life" and "We Weren't Born to Follow" by Bon Jovi, "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica

Carol Martuscello-Howard commented on listening exercises in The Classroom. These used the Eminem-Rihanna song "Love the Way You Lie" and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."

"Why would u suggest such garbage for an ESL class? 'love the way u lie' and parts of 'teenage dream' are completely inappropriate. I've taught esl for 9 years and know for certain this would bother some. Songs like this make me embarrassed of what American culture has become."