10 Foreign Language Covers

A language acquisition study published in the journal Cognition in 2008 suggests that listening to and singing along with music may play an important role in learning a language. Reported by Cognitive Daily , the study supports that singing in a foreign language can help a student learn that language faster. The concept isn’t unusual. Over the years, several friends have told me they practiced their French listening to Serge Gainsbourg, their Spanish listening to Cafe Tacuba, their Mandarin listening to Carsick Cars, and so forth.

You can test the study’s findings with the 10 Foreign Language Cover Songs we compiled here. Enjoy!

Johnny Cash performing Wer kennt den Weg
A German version of I Walk the Line

Johnny Cash - Wer kennt den Weg

Die Ärzte performing Gehn Wie Ein Ägypter
A German cover of The Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian

Seu Jorge performing David Bowie’s Life on Mars? in Portuguese

Los Campos Magnéticos performing El Galán de La Paternal
A Spanish cover of The Magnetic Fields’ The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side

Blondie performing Llámame
A Spanish version of Call Me

Mikel Erentxun performing Esta Luz Nunca Se Apagará
A Spanish cover of The Smiths’ There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Esta Luz Nunca Se Apagara (There Is A Light That Never Goes

Rachid Taha performing Rock El Casbah
An Arabic cover of The Clash’s Rock The Casbah

Adriano Celentano performing Pregherò
An Italian cover of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me

Oksana Mysina and Oxy Rocks performing Не то уж теперь
A Russian cover of Bob Dylan’s Things Have Changed

Shang Shang Typhoon performing レットイットビー
A Japanese cover of The Beatles’ Let It Be

Let It Be・上々颱風Shang Shang Typhoon Live in '93

More Music for Language Learners:

Check out Beyond Word’s series Spinning Languages for great foreign language music.


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  • Ben Boblis
    Posted at 14:45h, 10 March Reply


  • Astrid
    Posted at 14:49h, 10 March Reply

    Let It Be in Japanese: Cute!
    Johnny Cash singing German: Absolutely charming!
    Die Ärzte trying to find a rhyme: Funny! They stress the German word for Egyptian (Ägypter) on the third instead of second syllable in order to rhyme with ‘schwer’ (the German word for hard). I would like to include one more song: Elvis Presley performing ‘Wooden Heart’ in German (a classic!)

  • Patrick C
    Posted at 21:20h, 11 March Reply

    Cool collection…another one would be 99 Luftballoons.

    German: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQYQTFudrqc

    English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14IRDDnEPR4

  • Aengus
    Posted at 15:04h, 16 March Reply

    Nice post, but what about the beatles?! They did two German versions that I know of – “Sie liebt dich” and “Komm, gib mir deine Hand”

  • Steph
    Posted at 23:22h, 20 August Reply

    Alexibexi has about of dozen pop song covers. Here’s one:


  • John Juan Coyote
    Posted at 23:49h, 03 October Reply

    Johnny Cash’s Spanish accent is “no bueno.” Los Lonely Boys did a bilingual version of “Walk the Line,” that is pretty. TheSpanishVersion . org has a bunch of good Spanish language covers of English songs.

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