A Comparative Study on the Use of English Songs and Poems to Teach Vocabulary for English as a Second Language Learners

  • H. K.P. Dineshika Temporary Lecturer, Department of English Language Teaching, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Keywords: Teaching and learning, Vocabulary, ESL learners, Secondary level, Songs, Poems.


Vocabulary is an important aspect of teaching and learning a language, especially in teaching and learning a second language or a foreign language. Lexical Approach by Lewis (1993) contains a taxonomy of lexical items which shows what kind of vocabulary the learner should develop, and Cameron (2001) states that in learning vocabulary the aspects of pronunciation, meaning, spelling and the grammatical usage of the specific words should be taught. In that case, there have been various strategies to teach and learn vocabulary in the English as a Second Language (ESL) context. This study investigates whether the usage of English songs and poems in English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom enhance the knowledge in the vocabulary of the secondary level learners. This study provides an answer to the research question “How does the usage of English songs and poems enhance the ESL students’ knowledge in vocabulary at the secondary level?” and claims two hypotheses, a) The use of English songs is more effective than using English poems in teaching vocabulary. b) There is a significant and positive impact after the usage of songs and poems in grade 10 with compared to grade 6. Twenty-five students from each class from grade 6 and grade 10 at H/ Weeraketiya Rajapaksha Central College participated in the study. The data was collected using the pretests and posttests. The data was analyzed using SPSS version 22. The findings indicated that both songs and poems have a positive impact on the enhancement of vocabulary knowledge at the secondary level. In both grades, songs were more effective in teaching vocabulary than poems. The second hypothesis of this study was partially confirmed as Grade 10 group that exposed to songs had an improvement whereas Grade 10 group that exposed to poems had shown a reduction in their marks, compared to Grade 6. Overall, the findings indicate the effectiveness of usage of English songs and poems in teaching and learning vocabulary in the secondary level ESL classroom. Though teachers do not pay much attention to the usage of songs and poems, they would be very much productive in enhancing the ESL learners’ knowledge in vocabulary.