Who doesn’t love teaching Spanish songs in class? Music sticks in our minds, uses repetitive language, and makes us fall in love with culture. For a long time, I used authentic songs badly. I wanted to do more, but because my class was textbook and grammar-centered, I felt like I had little time. I didn’t know how to maximize the lyrics, or make them comprehensible. Martina Bex, Kristy Placido, and Mis Clases Locas have helped tremendously in knowing how and why to teach with music. These authentic songs are a jackpot of culture, fun, and learning. We just need to know which ones to pick and what to do with them.
After throwing out my textbook, I started seriously looking for content– good, comprehensible, compelling content. I’m a big believer in patterning, so for my first year songs I am looking for lots of present tense, high-frequency verbs. For a few of the following Spanish songs, only the chorus would be really helpful and comprehensible, and that’s all I focus on. For some, the whole song is useful. Just a few have to do more with culture than language, and are better used accordingly (think MovieTalk, for example).
I have arranged these by my tentative Spanish I units, so you can see the themes and structures I was looking for in the songs. I have included some essential questions and ideas for input just in case it’s helpful to know what the songs might connect to. I tried to do a mix of currently popular and enduring classics. If I missed anything essential, let me know in the comments! Also, several of the songs are Christian and may not be relevant for many of you. This post is still kind of a work in progress.
Unit 1: Nuestra clase & nuevos amigos
Who is here? Why learn Spanish? How do I get what I need in class, in the TL?
Language: Start super siete verbs (tener, ser, hay), decir, greetings, classroom objects, some numbers and colors.
Input/activities: Martina Bex Units, storytelling.
Tengo tu love (sie7e): tengo, soy, tiene, un, una, adjective agreement
Los pollitos dicen (traditional children’s): dicen, tienen hambre, les da, duermen, se despiertan
Corre (Jesse y Joy): the structures are fairly complicated, so this technically belongs later in the year. But I teach Martina Bex’s “Corre” unit early on and put it here just in case!
Conmigo estás (Hillsong) – no hay, el día, noche, conmigo estás
Unit 2: Mi mundo immediato y ¿quién soy?
Who am I? What do I like and like to to do?
Language: Continue súper siete (gustar, estar, querer, ir), add hobbies, sports, and adjectives.
Input/activities: “La persona especial” interviews from Bryce Hedstrom and more Somos units from Martina Bex, storytelling.
Corazón sin cara (Prince Royce): vive, eres, adjectives, no me importa, vive, no tiene, nunca. (We start filling in our adjectives booklets with this song.)
Voy a vivir (Marc Antony): voy a + infinitives
Me voy (Julieta Venegas): me voy, no quiero, voy a, decir (some preterit- the chorus is most useful)
Hoy es domingo (Diego Torres): hoy, es domingo, no hay nada mejor, me encanta, pastimes
Me gustas tú (Manu Chao): time, me gustas tú, me gusta + noun/adjectives, ¿qué voy a hacer?
Mambo (Realidades- not strictly authentic, I think): ¿qué te gusta hacer?, te gusta, me gusta, infinitives, también, tampoco
Me gustas tú (Luis Fonsi): me gustas, me gusta, hago, me haces, tu, tú,
Unit III: Mi hogar (la familia) y mi escuela
Who is my family? What is a day/year at school like?
Language: family members, school vocabulary, weather, days, months, time. Sweet sixteen verbs.
Input: More Martina Bex units, fables. Day of the Dead mini-unit (honoring the family).
De colores (traditional- Joan Baez): primavera, me gustan a mí
Mamá (Siggno): familia, mamá, siempre, te amo, scenes of life in Mexico- refers to poemita Sana, sana, colita de rana
Hermanos (Casi Creativo): hermano, perdonar, enseñarme a compartir (WTF, abbreviated, appears at 1:17)
A Papá (Casi Creativo– cerveza at minute :52 but otherwise a great song): papá, gracias por…, eres, te lo digo
Te quiero ver (Natalia Lafourcade): domingo, mañana, tarde, anochecer, te quiero ver, tú no puedes, lots of tú/yo verbs right next to each otherm horas, segundos
Mi paraíso es (Divicio): mamá, papá, amigo, niña, mujer, hija– not my favorite style but kids who like boy bands will love it. Would make a good MovieTalk for talking about the family and home as well.
¿Con quién se queda el perro? (Jesse y Joy): tú te vas, yo me voy, se queda, antes, no hay más remedio
Vienes y te vas (William Luna): vienes, te vas, no soy feliz–poetic license there–, me olvides. It’s an older video, but I’m partial to Peru and love his music.
La bicicleta (Shakira y Carlos Vives): te quiero, voy a hacer, no quiero ser, por ti, puedo ser, le gusta, llévame, óyeme
Unit IV: La comida y las celebraciones
How do we share food and meals? What do food and celebrations tell us about Hispanic culture and life?
Language: food, ordering at a restaurant, holidays, reinforce super seven, sweet sixteen, and other high-frequency verbs.
Input/activities: Canela, La quinceañera, Martina Bex.
Come vegetables (Casi creativo): somos, vitaminas, plato, deben ser, miel, vegetables, zanahoria, espinaca, tomate, brócoli, fruta, sabores. I know these aren’t strictly artistic, but they’re so versatile I’m including them!
Come frutas (Casi Creativos – “carajo” at 0:18): la nevera, mañana, por la tarde, por la noche
8 vasos al día (Casi Creativo), antes de comer, al día, vasos,
Las mañanitas (Alejandro Fernández): birthdays, despierta, levántate, venimos
Tiempo de vals (Chayanne): la quinceañera
Mi niña bonita (Chino y Nacho): often sung at quinceañeras for father/daughter dance, aquí hay, tanto, para, sin, me siento,
Chocolate (Jesse and Joy): sabe am chocolate, bombón, nuestro,
Unit IV: Mi ciudad y la geografía
What is my hometown like? What are similarities and differences between my city and cities in Spanish-speaking countries?
Language: places, geography, Spanish-speaking countries, present progressive
Input/activities: Martina Bex geography units, storytelling, maybe Agentes Secretos
La gozadera (Marc Antony and Gente de Zona): Hispanic countries, somos tu y yo, might be a good time to point out preterit endings for later.
Latinoamérica (Calle 13): Many repetitions of “tú no puedes comprar… al sol, al viento, el calor, etc”, with images of Latin America in the background, repitions of tengo.
El perdón (cover by Siggno- skip the intro): las calles, present progressive. Such a great version to play alongside the original! Beware the “como un loco tomando” line.
El perdón (Enrique Iglesias y Nicky Jam): las calles, present progressive. Beware the “como un loco tomando” line.
Unit IV: El amor y los piratas
Is love or money more important? What makes a good/honorable partner?
Language: high-frequency verbs, direct and indirect objects, clothing
Input/activities: Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto
La camisa negra (Juanes): ya no me quieres, la camisa, me duele. Contains the word “maldita.” I don’t really love this song, but lots of teachers like to include it.
Darte un beso (Prince Royce): direct/indirect objects, darte, para, no sé que hacer
Te mando flores (Fonseca): object pronouns, abrazar, besos, brazos
Cuando te veo (ChocQuibTown): cuando te veo, son,me hace feliz, me llena, __ como__, puedo
Cielito lindo (Mariachi band): classic folk song and love song
Caraluna (Bacilos): yo sé, tal vez, nunca, mientras, cada, progressives, object pronouns
Volvi a nacer (Diego Torres): puedo, quiero casarme contigo, que voy a hacer, quedarme, dejar
Andar conmigo (Julieta Venegas): andar conmigo, hay dos caminos. It’s a bit unorthodox to introduce “quisieras,” but it’s a useful term in discussions. I guess I just really like this one– and even though most materials teach “caminar,” this teaches “andar,” which I hear more commonly.
El amor (Tito “El Bambino): progressive, tienes que
Amor como fuego (Hillsong): direct objects
Unit IV: Viajar y el medio ambiente
Language: travel, the environment, reflexives
Input/activities: Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido, study of Costa Rica
La tierra del olvido (Carlos Vives): te quiero, mas que, tienes, río, mar, lluvia, la luna
Pura vida (Don Omar): mainly because it says pura vida over and over again
Madre tierra (Chayanne): abre tus ojo, mira arriba, environmental theme
Tabaco y chanel (Bacilos): reflexives (no se va, no se olvida), hay que, object pronouns, las estrellas. This is probably my favorite song of all time… so I had to squeeze it in somewhere!
If you would like to search by country:
A giant database of music, with grammar, vocabulary, and themes listed: