The LyricsTraining app…well it does exactly as the name suggests! It’s an app for language learners to train their listening comprehension in a foreign language using the lyrics from popular music.
And yes, while you could just go to Spotify and look up lyrics, LyricsTraining has a couple more options meant specifically for listening comprehension that takes using music to learn a foreign language to the next level.
In this LyricsTraining review, let’s talk about what’s to love about the app, and what it could do better, so you can decide if it’s the right resource for your language learning.
The LyricsTraining app hosts popular, high-quality music videos in a ton of different languages:
- Japanese (Romaji)
- Korean (Romanized)
That’s a pretty good mixture of foreign languages that are both very commonly learned (like Spanish and French) and not-so commonly learned (like Swedish and Finnish).
An account with LyricsTraining gives you access to music videos in all 14 languages (I love when they do that!), and even specifies which accent each song is in with a flag of the particular country the artists are from.
Very handy for language learners!
Okay, let’s try LyricsTraining out. I chose Spanish not only because it’s my go-to, but also because it’s the only foreign language where my listening comprehension is advanced enough to try to listen to music.
When you first create your account, LyricsTraining sets your level at 0. This level isn’t at all associated with your actual level of listening comprehension, but how much music you’ve listened to and words you’ve “learned” (yes, I put that word in quotation marks for a reason, you’ll see).
So I clicked onto a video, pretty much at random.
See how this video is from Vevo? That’s always a good sign!
First I was given the option of multiple choice or karaoke; once I chose multiple choice, I was asked what difficulty level I wanted, each level of difficulty differentiated by how many words you have to fill in via multiple-choice; out of the 293 words in this song, I could choose to fill in 34, 66, 129, or all 293 words.
It’s kind of confusing to explain, but it’s a simple concept, don’t worry!
And there you go! This platform is really smooth, by the way, and I really love using it.
You play the music video you chose, and you get the lyrics all displayed, with however many words you chose redacted. It’s your job to listen to the lyrics and choose the right word. And with music, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Don’t worry – if you get it wrong, you can keep trying until you get it right.
Remember, music takes a lot of liberties with pronunciation, so a lot of these words sound completely different than they would in any normal conversation.
And because it’s music, it goes really fast. The lyrics do help, but with this app you’re clearly not trying to understand the concept of what they’re saying, but individual words. I wish there was a way to slow it down and take the time to figure it out.
First complaint: give us the option to slow it down! If you really wanted to, you could use something like Language Learning with YouTube (VIDEO) to search for this video and slow it down, but this seems like something the app should do.
Nonetheless, this song was really good and I had fun listening to it and just tapping on the words. It’s a genuinely entertaining way of getting in some language practice! And if there’s one issue a lot of language learners face, it’s avoiding boredom.
And hey, if you need to hear the line a couple of times before you can try to answer (totally legit – even with my advanced comprehension, music is tough!)? No problem.
Swipe left to repeat it as many times as you need, or swipe right to skip it altogether. Let me reiterate: even if it is multiple choice, it can be tough to get the correct word the first time! Or the second time. Or third. (Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you!)
Or you can opt for straight-up karaoke, which is…exactly what you think it is.
If karaoke is your thing, this is a cool option that I haven’t seen elsewhere. It would be really cool to be able to put this on a TV or a computer or something (how awesome would foreign language karaoke parties be with your friends!?), but otherwise it’s pretty simple.
This way, you can focus more on pronunciation and moving your mouth in the right ways to form these words. Still lacking on giving language learners a chance to figure out what the song is even saying, though.
I don’t think LyricsTraining is as great as it could be (we’ll get there in a sec), but the part where you’re casually listening to foreign artists and training your ear to pick up on the words is honestly great listening practice!
Once you finish a song, you’ll get some very basic stats. I don’t personally find these particularly stats the most helpful, but I know many language learners might. If anything, this could be great motivation. Green bars in stats = positive emotions!
That first stat, in particular, I don’t like. If you go into the “Vocabulary” section, you’ll find all the words that you’ve filled in the blank. Technically yeah, I’ve added 32 words to this list, but I didn’t choose the words, nor do I struggle with them.
This is not helpful at all for intermediate/advanced learners because, well, look at the words! That’s beginner vocab right there. I don’t need to review those words. LyricsTraining automatically pulled them for me for some reason.
It makes sense why these are the words that were filled in (something like the first 2,000 words of each language make up 99% of all conversations), but this vocab list isn’t helpful for me at all.
In fact, this part reminds me a lot of Beelinguapp, which I did a video review of here. Both apps pull out vocab that it thinks you need, based on pretty much nothing (considering this was the very first time I had tried this app), which is an unfortunately wasted opportunity to provide language learners with helpful vocab tools!
Not all of LyricsTraining’s stats are totally useless, though! They may be a little messy, but if you go into the “Activity” section, you get this.
Now that’s pretty helpful! Keep track of the songs you’ve listened to, how many times you listened to them, difficulty, success rate, etc.
Again like Beelinguapp, LyricsTraining offers you a set amount of content for free, otherwise it’s hidden behind a pay wall.
Basically, you get to play music for free 3 times every 30 minutes. That’s a slightly strange way to measure free access, but at the same time, that’s a lot of free practice! We like free (high quality) practice!
Or, if you’ve got $5/month to spare, you can get more out of your language learning.
You get full access to all the music your heart could desire, plus translations!
Now, the ability to translate sounds good, but what does that actually look like? Well, it looks like this.
In my opinion, this translation option is…meh.
On the bright side, you have the option to translate into a million and a half languages (not literally, folks) – no matter your native language (or even another upper-level foreign language), you can probably use it with this translator.
On the not-so-bright side, you can’t do anything with the words you translate. It doesn’t save it in a new flashcard set or give you the option to export it anywhere. If you want to save this word, you’ll have to do so manually, with your Anki deck, for example.
So, at that point, you’re better off using your own preferred method of translations, too. Which would render this tool totally useless.
Should you try LyricsTraining?
At the end of the day, I find LyricsTraining to be a pretty decent app. Exploring a language’s artists is a great way to not only practice the language but also get involved in a country’s culture, and this app makes it more accessible.
I do like the fill-in-the-blank for working on listening comprehension, but it’s also important to understand going into it that using music to practice this skill can get rough.
Not only is listening to the music itself difficult, but there’s no way to slow it down and try to understand the concept of what the song is even saying, which is a major missed opportunity, I think.
I think the translations/vocab sections are a waste, too. There’s no way to tell the app which vocab you need to practice, and no way to actually practice it. You’re better off using the app to find new words and translating them/collecting them another way.