If your learners spend a lot of time listening to music, then this is an ideal site to send them to. LyricsTraining is easy to use and good for self-study – mainly for older learners.
You can access LyricsTraining online or via an app. I especially like how easy it is to use. To get started, you choose your ‘target language’ (there are currently 12 languages in addition to English) in the top-right of the screen, choose a genre, then scroll to choose a song (you can search by song title too). It’s not necessary to register at this stage, although there are some additional features available if you do.
Language level and skills.
LyricsTraining can be used by anyone, whatever their language level. As you watch the video of the song you chose, the lyrics are presented below, in one of three different ways:
1. ‘karaoke’ style – so you can read or sing along
2. with gaps for you to type in the missing words
3. with gaps for you to select from ‘multiple-choice’ options.
You only see the lyrics line by line, as they are sung, and this is the challenge with the second and third options: you have to try to type or select the correct words before the next line starts. If you’re fast and don’t make many mistakes, your score will be higher.
With the second and third options, before the video starts you choose your level. ‘Level’ here isn’t linked to any scale (such as the CEFR) but instead it relates to the number of words you have to guess during the song. Remember, the more words you have to guess, the faster you have to be. It can be tricky on some songs, but when the level of the challenge is right, it’s enjoyable. And essentially, that is what LyricsTraining is.
As an individual user, you don’t even have to register to use the site. However, if you do register, then you can track your scores on songs and among other users, globally and in your country. As a learner myself, I find this quite motivating!
There is no option for a teacher to track their learners’ scores, although there is a teacher account.
Although there isn’t really any direct interaction with other users on LyricsTraining, the song texts are all user generated: lyrics are uploaded by other users. It’s important to remember that sometimes there are mistakes in the lyrics – although I found very few, and you can send feedback on any song to the website team.
Supporting teaching and learning.
If you register as a teacher, you can create your own gap-fill activities, which means you can focus on certain features of language in a song, and of course, learners could do this for each other too.
You might use a popular song with the whole class, but the real benefit of LyricsTraining is probably for individuals. I remember listening to songs when I was learning Italian, over and over again, carefully reading the lyrics and trying to recognise the language in each one. When I started teaching I couldn’t understand at first why my learners didn’t always respond positively to songs in class. Of course, music – like so much content that used in the classroom – is generally a question of individual taste. It’s for this reason I don’t have much time for music in lessons now, apart from some exceptional cases. So, I think that LyricsTraining is a resource which might be best used if learners choose the songs that they want to work with in class or at home.
I would still use LyricsTraining in the classroom to demonstrate how easy it is to use, and to point out a few features. Apart from that though, I would suggest learners sign up and use it in their own time, and – if enough of them are interested – I would ask them to report on how well they did, perhaps to compare scores. However, I would be careful to only recommend it to the right group of learners. The videos aren’t filtered, so there is some content which is inappropriate for younger learners, and there’s currently no way to control that. Only users aged 14 years or older can register on the site.
Technical: user safety and data security.
Both the website and the app are free at the moment, but this means there are advertisements on both, and some of these may be inappropriate for younger learners. You have to register to use the app version of LyricsTraining, but they ask for limited information.