10 classic love songs to help improve your English this Valentine’s Day! - ISI Dublin

10 classic love songs to help improve your English this Valentine’s Day!

February 11, 2016

Listening to music in English is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to improve your comprehension and vocabulary. It allows you to study an endless number of sentence structures with minimal effort and through repeated listening you will memorise lyrics using your long term memory. This is much stronger than short term memory so you are less likely to forget and if you have a set of earphones you can do it anywhere!

Love is one of the most popular themes in modern music, and what better opportunity to learn some romantic vocabulary than Valentine’s Day? This selection of songs should give you an introduction to some of the best classic love songs ever written in English. 


The Beatles – All My Loving


The Beatles are an excellent choice if you wish to pick up some romantic vocabulary, and throughout  the vast majority of their albums you will find that almost all of the songs deal with the theme of love, particularly the early ones. Indeed in the early days most of their fans were females who were infatuated with the group and would burst into tears at the sight of them.


The Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb


With a slightly more edgy approach than the early Beatles’ straight-forward love songs, Under My Thumb deals with a power shift in a relationship. Mick Jagger recalls how a girl who once refused to be him is now head over heels in love with him, and he seems to be quite happy about it!


Neil Young – Heart of Gold


Taken from his debut album Harvest, this is perhaps Neil’s best known song. This album is great for learning English because of the simplicity and clarity of the vocals. Heart of Gold is a sombre ballad about a young man’s search for love. The entire album is definitely worth checking out.


Cat Stevens – Wild World


Cat Stevens is a master of lyrics and with Wild World he doesn’t disappoint. Throughout the song he warns his ex about that dangerous world that awaits her after she has left him. There is some great vocabulary to be found here, as well as good uses of the imperative and conditional tense.


The Cure – Friday I’m in Love


An excellent way to learn the days of the week for absolute beginners, this song is also an ode to the joy of a new love. The protagonist is madly in love and nothing can bring him down, not even bad weather during the week. A nice sentiment for those living in Dublin


Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure


The iconic two note bass riff is instantly recognisable. Queen and Bowie teamed up in 1981 to create this masterpiece which deals broadly with the difficulties of love and the pain of being hurt. Although it initially focuses on the struggles of love it finishes on an optimistic note, urging us to ‘give love one more chance’. It makes use of some more colloquial expressions which are always useful to know.


Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight


While waiting for her to get ready to go to a party, Eric Clapton wrote this love song for his wife Pattie Boyd, who was also the former wife of Beatle George Harrison. As well as having a beautiful melody it is also a great example of the present continuous tense. It is a slow song and the lyrics are relatively simple which make it easy to understand.


Elton John – Your Song


The lyrics of Your Song  express the romantic thoughts of somebody who struggles to say how they feel. It contains a variety of everyday imagery and metaphors and the language used is relatively simple.


The Beach Boys – God Only Knows


This song is based on a hypothetical situation as the singer imagines how his life would be without the person he loves. It is a song written largely from a conditional perspective which is a very important part of any language. Beyond the grammar this is also a great example of how the Beach Boys began to use layered sounds to capture a unique sound which would later become a trademark of theirs.


Joni Mitchell – A Case Of You


In this short and sweet song Joni Mitchell recalls some important encounters using the indirect style of speech and the simple past tense. Great practice for telling stories and describing things that happened in the past. 

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