Class Activities, Music in Spanish Class

Música Miércoles – Nuquí, ChocQuibTown

I love this song mostly because Gloria Martinez has a beautiful voice and I could listen to her sing all day long, but the gorgeous beaches in the video don’t hurt either! I did some frantic edits to my Spanish 2 preterite focused lyrics activity Wednesday morning to make a more Spanish 1-friendly activity, and I was pleasantly surprised that my students found the song easy to follow along with, and it even got a few five-star ratings.

EdTech, Music in Spanish Class, Teaching Reflections

Web-Filter Woes

Y’all, I love teaching with music. Spanish pop music has been a part of my classroom since year 1, and my use of music for increasing student engagement, reinforcing grammar and vocabulary topics, and touching on cultural issues has only increased over the last ten years. Many students tell me that music is their favorite part of my class – “Yes! It’s Wednesday! It’s song day!” They beg me to play songs on Wednesday, and every other day of the week, give me song suggestions/requests, and tell me they’ve added their favorites to their personal playlists.

Over ten years of teaching, many things have changed, and other things stay the same: my students still love listening to Spanish pop music, and I still have to do battle with the internet filter every. freaking. year.

Admittedly, it has gotten better: at my previous school, I emailed the tech guy every single week with a list of videos to unlock. I think he got a real kick out of Mi novio es un zombie! And there was a stretch at my current school- I believe it was during the “Youtube for Education” era – where just about all my music videos were blocked, and I had to remember to download my videos at home so I could show them in class. Currently, I can access most of my music videos, and occasionally, when one is filtered, I can usually find it on another site with a video search excluding youtube (protip: search with -youtube to find videos hosted on other sites).

My current beef with the web-filter involves one of my favorite sites for extension, enrichment, choiceboards, and early finishers: LyricsTraining. I have talked about LyricsTraining in presentations to world teachers at FLAG, SCOLT, and within my own department, and it never ceases to impress. If you’ve never used it, it is a fill-in-the-blanks-in-the-lyrics activity. Students watch the video and, as the lyrics scroll underneath, they enter the missing words. It is a great listening activity, exposing students to accents of native speakers, and also gets them to engage with speech at native-speaker speed in a non-threatening way. But don’t get too excited: LyricsTraining relies on embedded YouTube videos. If your school filters videos the way mine does, you might find that many of your favorite, school-appropriate, teenager-pleasing Spanish pop songs are blocked for students. Songs like Te mueves tú, Corazón sin cara, Soy yo, and Tengo tu love.

The 2001 Child Internet Protection Act requires schools to install filters that block “sexually explicit” content. I absolutely support that, and I understand that no filtering software is perfect. However, schools need to choose web filters that empower teachers to choose age-appropriate educational content, with means to whitelist websites and YouTube videos that are being unnecessarily filtered out. Schools also need to differentiate between how the internet is filtered for students and staff members, but I think that is a post for another day. For now, I’m stuck pondering the latest email from my school’s wonderful technology support person, telling me there is no way to selectively enable blocked YouTube videos, and mourning the loss of my beloved Lyrics Training activities for my students this semester.

My Spanish 1 Playlist:

Class Activities, Music in Spanish Class

#SCOLT18: #AuthRes for the Novice Language Learner

I am super excited to be headed to #SCOLT18 tomorrow! Here are the slides for my session, #AuthRes for the Novice Language Learner. I’m sharing tons of links to my favorite sources for finding beginner-appropriate authentic resources, as well as activities to go along with them. I’m also sharing three “ready to go” authres activities that I’ve used with my own students on leisure activities, school, and clothing. If you’ll be at SCOLT, I will be presenting Saturday at 9:00 – hope to see you there!

Music in Spanish Class

¿Con quién se queda el perro?

In celebration of teacher appreciation week, I treated myself to a shopping spree on TPT today. Among my purchases was this song bundle from Kristy Placido. In the bundle, I came across activities for Jesse and Joy’s ¿Con quién se queda el perro? As soon as I read the lyrics I knew I wanted to use this song, today! It could fit in the curriculum so many different ways – with the family unit? with Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro? When you teach ir, poder, querer?  (I happen to teaching Realidades Chapter 4a which includes a focus on the verb ir, as well as question words including ¿Con quién? so this song was so perfect!) In the bundle, Kristy included a story based on the events in the song/video. I decided to start with the story, as it was a good opportunity to provide input and support for understanding the lyrics. I made a slideshow with screen shots from the video to comprehensify the story. (I also made a Quizlet set with some key words from the song, but didn’t end up using it today. Maybe tomorrow?)

I followed the basic story frame from Kristy’s activities (go buy it! it’s worth it!), but simplified a bit to make it comprehensible to my students. After the story, I gave students a handout with a summary of the story. On the board, I projected a number of small pictures (mostly video screenshots) with a letter next to each one, and students matched each picture to one of the sentences. After that, we finally listened to the song and watched the whole video* (they had figured out it was a video after seeing the red youtube bar on the bottom of one of the pictures), and completed the cloze exercise from Kristy’s bundle. Students were interested and engaged throughout the lesson, and really seemed to enjoy both the story and the song. Gracias, Kristy!

*Note: There are about 3 seconds of suggestive scenes in the video which may not be appropriate for your students or school culture. 

Music in Spanish Class

Manía Musical: Fall Edition

Last March Bethanie Drew shared that she was doing a March Madness music bracket. My students really enjoyed the bracket we did last year, and some of my Spanish 2 kids requested we do it again. Since we are on a block schedule now and I won’t have the same students in the spring, I’m doing a bracket now (really, I can’t deny them when they ask me for more music! no way :)).

I started by asking my students to nominate their favorite songs. Last year I chose the line up, and most of the songs in the bracket were new to my students, but I wanted to give them some input and ownership in the process this year, especially since I’ve been more consistent in playing music throughout the semester. Here’s the nomination list:

mania musical nominations

I vetoed Hips don’t lie (not in Spanish) Soy guapo, and Barbara MacAurthur’s Alphabet song (not songs native speakers actually listen to!). Perhaps I should have vetoed Gasolina based on content, but it’s my fault that they know it…I played them a clip…on the day we listened to Daddy Yankee’s Llamado de emergencia, which fit perfectly with my doctor unit and IS school appropriate, and I just wanted to illustrate how famous he is by playing a bit of a song I was 90% sure they would have heard…welp, they loved it. Fingers crossed they love El perdón more! Llorar lloviendo I had never heard before, but one of my native speakers wrote it in and I loved it! The other oddball in the mix is Caramelo – I heard it in my Zumba class and loved it, and used it as the song of the week in Spanish 2 back in August. I didn’t think they liked it that much, but it showed up on the nominations, so I put it in. Here’s the final line up:



mania musical

And the close up:



mania musical detailOne of my Spanish 2 students commented that it’s going to be a tougher decision than last year – we’ve got so many great songs on the list! And one of my sweet Spanish 1 freshwomen had to abstain from voting on Friday- she couldn’t bear to betray either Aldrey or Ricky by voting against them. #makethemloveit #whentheyloveitwe’vealreadywon #lovemusic #maniamusical

Music in Spanish Class

10 Ways to Use a Song in Spanish Class

Things to do with music:
1. Play it loud during class change. Make students wonder what’s going on in Spanish class!

2. Play it soft while students work. Music helps create a positive learning environment!

3. Learn the coro!

4. Do a lyrics cloze. Here’s the cloze I made for Tengo tu love, one of my students’ favorites. Sometimes I number the verses to make it easier for students who get lost to find their place again.

5. Cut the lyrics out, and have students arrange them in order. I love this activity, but it is high prep! It is slightly less work if you can get students to do the cutting for you. You can do individual lines (maybe just the chorus?), or do blocks of lyrics, like in the picture below.

6. Match the meanings. You can do this with cut-out lyrics, like this:

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Or after doing a cloze, project a the translations of a few lines, verses, or the chorus on the board, and have them write the number on their paper next to the correct part of the song.  Easy-peasy.

7. Follow along with a print out of the lyrics, or watch a lyrics video.  There are tons of lyric videos on youtube, or you can use a lyrics app on spotify, such as musiXmatch.

8. Play lyrics training – this would make a great station or homework choice option!

9. Knock on your desk when you hear _________. So I used to teach Zumba, and I got this wonderful song for physical descriptions on my choreography CD, “Me gustan todas“…about six months after I had taught descriptions. I still wanted to play it, so I fit it in at the end of class one day, and just had students listen for countries and knock on their desk every time they heard one (well, I said “knock”, but they heard smack as hard as you can. Anyway, they paid attention to the song, which was my goal all along! bahahaha :). Maybe you could have them knock every time they hear yo, or each time the chorus starts, or if there’s a distinct instrument?

10. Make a bracket and vote on your favorite.

What did I miss? What are your favorite ways to use music to teach language?

Music in Spanish Class, Teaching Reflections

Music in the Classroom: What I’ve learned this year

1. Variety is the spice of life: music doesn’t have to be a lyrics cloze, nor does it have to illustrate this week’s grammar focus.  There are lots of reasons to listen to Spanish music in class and lots of different activities to do. Also? Just listening to a song without an activity is okay too.

2. Songs my students loved this year: Vivir mi vida/Marc Anthony, Te mueves tú/David Bisbal, Ha Ash &Reik, Lo mejor de mi vida eres tú/Ricky Martin, El amor/Tito el Bambino, La lista/Aldrey, Tengo tu love/Sie7e.  I would never have picked out “El amor,” but my department head handed me a ready-made cloze for Valentine’s Day, I used it out of pure laziness, and now half my students are all, “Why isn’t this one in the bracket???”

3.  Everyone does not love every song – and that’s okay.

4. “Do the duck” – Oh, I worked really hard to find a song for you today and put an awesome activity together to go with it, and 30 students are whining at me how much they hate it? Do the duck and let it roll off my back – there is at least one student who likes it, but isn’t going to speak up and voice their opinion against so much negativity. Also, you never know about the next class!

5. “Can we listen to….” and “I went home and listened to that song from yesterday” and “Hey, I heard this song at the Mexican restaurant!” are the best. phrases. EVER!!!!!

Music in Spanish Class

Música en Español March Madness

I am jumping on board with Bethanie Drew and Allison Wienhold for Manía Musical de Marzo – March Music Madness! Gracias Bethanie for the fantastic idea and bracket!

Here’s my bracket bulletin board:

2015-03-20 15.41.43
Manía Musical 🙂

2015-03-20 15.41.26
The contenders. Kept most of Bethanie’s original picks, but added two of my students’ all time favorites – Vivir mi Vida and Lo mejor de mi vida eres tú

I want to do a different activity each round – maybe a cloze,  a lyrics ordering activity, a reading about the artists, learning the coro, matching the meaning, describing the song, giving your opinion on why you like it, etc. We started today with La lista and Tengo tu love. Both songs are new to my students, and they loved them! Alas, there can only be one winner, and Tengo tu love took the victory:

2015-03-20 15.42.25

2015-03-20 15.42.33

Voting today was so much fun – I’m excited to see how it goes over the next few weeks!

Bulletin board files, if you want to copy:

Music in Spanish Class



Do you know Songza? It’s an online radio site, with the fun feature of guiding you to a station based on the time of day, plus a few questions to gauge your mood. You also have the option to pick a genre station directly- they have tons, and a bunch in Spanish! Lately I’ve been enjoying their “Latin Pop Hits” station. I like to listen on my planning period, and jot down song titles when I hear one I think my students will like. It’s been a good way for me to stay up to date on Spanish music, and makes grading so much more fun!