Children's songbook and piano

Learning Vocab Through Children’s Songs

Have you ever thought “I know – I’ll go and listen to some children’s songs and learn the language through them!”… then you go and listen to them and are absolutely astounded at how fast they sound, and how much you DON’T know, and then feel all despondent because you can’t even keep up with children’s resources?

*Hand up*… that’s me! I couldn’t believe it! I had been studying for months, learning vocab with Duolingo, had been doing tests with Kwiziq, going through my very old À Vous La France self study kit… I thought for sure that I would be able to learn by listening to children’s songs on YouTube! But… not. 🙂 Many of them have no subtitles, and I just couldn’t keep up at all.

In addition, many children’s songs are quite nonsensical. Think about it… “London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady!” Or even better.. “Ring-a-ring-a-rosy, Pocket full of posies, A-TISH-oo, A-TISH-oo, We all fall down” 🙂 How on earth is anyone learning English as a foreign language supposed to know what that means… especially when most English speakers don’t have a clue!

So my conclusion is that, while educational songs such as we might see on Sesame Street or Play School might be useful, generally searching for “children’s songs” is not.

However, for your amusement, let me show you how funny it is to learn a song in a different language, having no idea what the words mean. Since I was a child, Frère Jacques and Alouette have been French children’s songs that we sang, not really knowing what they mean. Certainly Alouette. Such a sweet tune. Such a pretty word, alouette. Hmmmm. Not such a pretty song! (But quite handy for learning body parts!)


Every had the same experience? What foreign language children’s songs did you learn as a child? Did you know what they meant? Let’s have a chat in the comments!