Review by Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015

LyricsTraining

Songs get kids singing, but learning limited by ads, lack of context

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration

Subjects
  • World Languages
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Popular music videos will reel kids in, helping to immerse them in a new language.

Cons: The ads are likely to distract, and some lyrics can contain inappropriate language; teachers must monitor.

Bottom Line: Finding the lyrics is fun, but teachers will have to use some creativity to help kids take learning beyond these cloze-reading exercises.

LyricsTraining can be particularly useful to teachers looking for a fun and entertaining way to teach new words and help students improve their listening skills. Although it's most appropriate for older kids, teachers could potentially use it with younger English-language learners, provided that they carefully curate age-appropriate titles. It's easy to use this site's print options to curate cloze-reading passages using students' favorite songs.

However, if teachers want to maximize on this site's learning potential, they should take some time to have conversations about the meanings of songs and how words can be used differently in everyday conversations. Even chatting about favorite artists or talking about how language is used differently across genres can be very beneficial to English-language learners. For example, many kids would enjoy taking a closer look at how their favorite artists use or modify words to make them fit into a particular rhyme scheme or work with the rhythm of a song.

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What kid doesn't love singing along to her favorite music video? LyricsTraining is a language-learning site that engages users through embedded music videos from popular sites such as YouTube and Vevo. Kids can practice recognizing words by listening to the lyrics and identifying missing words in a sentence. Kids begin by selecting one of four difficulty levels, which appear to be determined by song speed, vocabulary level, and how clearly the song's lyrics can be heard. Kids can choose to play in "Write Mode," where they'll type in the missing word, or they can select "Choice Mode" to choose one of four possible answers. If kids get stuck they can skip a word or replay part of the lyrics, but they'll lose points for it. Lyric transcripts can also be printed and memorized prior to playing, making it easier for kids to master the lyrics. Kids might even choose to play in karaoke mode and just sing along to lyrics as they scroll across the screen.

Currently, the site offers videos in 10 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Japanese, Turkish, and Catalan. It's free to use and doesn't require registration, but users who set up an account can save results and compare them with others on a leaderboard. It's important to note that LyricsTraining contains a wide variety of ads that can lead kids off the site. Social media share buttons are also present, and a "Buy" button is displayed underneath every video. You should also be aware that although most curse words have been bleeped out (and replaced with asterisks), some words still slip through.

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As on online language-learning site, LyricsTraining has a method -- asking kids to find the missing words in song lyrics as they listen -- that is sure to engage and can make for a fun listening activity. However, it's important for teachers to keep in mind that many lyrics contain slang or words commonly used during informal conversation. It's also particularly important to remember that song lyrics often contain reduced word forms of some terms (such as "wanna" or "gonna"), and some unusual syntax can also be present. For newcomers, or kids just beginning to learn a new language, this could be particularly confusing. More advanced language learners may find the site more useful as they work on higher-level conversational speaking and listening skills. Overall, LyricsTraining could be more helpful if it provided kids with a reference section to highlight or explain examples of more nuanced uses of language.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The music videos from popular artists will reel kids in. They'll practice listening as they fill in the missing words to their favorite music-video lyrics. Beware: The ads could be a big distraction.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids' listening skills may improve, but they won’t practice proper pronunciation or even get a clear understanding of new words. More than anything, the site is aimed at having fun and testing your lyrical knowledge.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The missing piece here is a reference section that could provide definitions for new words and further explain the uses for different language forms kids might encounter in lyrics.


Common Sense Reviewer
Monica Encarnacion School support staff

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Anabel G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Lake Norman High School
Mooresville, NC
Excellent Language Learning Through Song, But Use With Caution

Lyrics Training is an excellent tool for teaching Social Language to English Language Learners. However, I would use this website with caution as many contemporary songs include language and videos that are highly inappropriate in a K-12 school setting. Furthermore, videos are blocked by our district, so students viewed pre-selected videos on my laptop. While it was a bit of an inconvenience, it was a success with a select group of newcomers who needed the boost. If the content would be limited to clean versions of songs and videos, I would highly recommend the approach to teaching language.

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