Journal of Foreign Language Education and Technology

Vocabulary Load of English Song Lyrics for EFL Learners


Meral Ozturk

English songs are very popular with EFL learners and thanks to the natural repetitions of vocabulary they provide through choruses, repeated listening as well as through a special type of ‘language din’ in the head, they offer great opportunities for vocabulary learning. While most authentic texts have been shown previously to be too loaded with unfamiliar vocabulary for lower level learners, there are suggestions in the literature that songs have a light vocabulary load consisting mainly of high frequency vocabulary. The present study investigates these suggestions in a corpus of 177 English song lyrics that appeared in fourteen most recent albums by four artists. The data were analysed through vocabulary frequency profiling. The results indicated that around 95% of words in the songs were made up of the most frequent 1,000 words of English, suggesting that the vocabulary load of English songs is lighter than other authentic spoken genres. There were, however, differences among different artists and among different albums by the same artist. The vocabulary load of chorus sections was lighter than the rest of the songs. Songs are recommended as suitable for lower level EFL learners.

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