Common Spanish Verbs & Words You Need to Know

Common Spanish Verbs & Words You Need to Know

Inside: Common Spanish verbs every Spanish learner needs to know, and a guide for parents teaching Spanish.  

The Spanish language has a lot of words. It’s impossible to calculate exactly how many, but the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (DRAE) contains about 93,000. Don’t worry, though! There’s good news for Spanish learners: only a tiny percentage of those words make their way into daily conversation.

I’m going to give a brief intro explaining why high-frequency is a better way of thinking than by “difficulty” or only themed lists. If you are here to see my lists of high-frequency Spanish verbs and words, click here to jump directly to them. 

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Today’s post is for any Spanish language learner, but I’m actually writing fro parents. Many parents tell me they want to learn Spanish with their kids (or teach it to them), but they’ve forgotten their high school Spanish or never studied it. If that’s you, this post was written with you in mind!

The secret to effective, communicative language lessons is focusing on high-frequency structures. One problem with mainstream textbooks and programs is that they teach by themes, and introduce by “difficulty.” This means you could go half a year in Spanish before learning how to express I have or I like. Many of you probably took classes like this. You might have “learned” the word scarf before you could express liking or having something.

 

Themes aren’t all bad. The problem is when you try to learn every word in a theme–like stepsister and great-grandfather— even if they are sort of obscure. You’ll probably just forget them!

Here’s the solution: zero in on the core of the language: common Spanish verbs and phrases. Learn just mom, dad, sister, brother, as a beginner. You’ll pick up more specific, less frequent terms later. 

And — when you learn high-frequency phrases– you’ll more quickly have access to authentic Spanish books, songs, and materials. Why? Because they’re more likely to show up, of course!

So instead of thinking in terms moving through a sequence of “difficulty” and boxed “themes,” think in terms of frequency: starting at the core, and slowing expanding outward to absorb less-common words. Begin with the words you need to be understood, as a beginner, and eventually you’ll be expressing yourself more precisely. 

 

 

 

If you are trying to self-educate a bit, here are some helpful links. None are as ideal and having a teacher, but you can use these resources at home, for free. 

Teach Yourself Spanish, with Free Online Resources

Load Up Podcasts in Spanish

Make a playlist of Songs that use High-Frequency Phrases

Order learner books like these examplesl(novels that use high-frequency words– made for teens, but fun reads!):

 

  

 

Now, let’s get started with our high-frequency lists! You can download all of them as a PDF by clicking below:

Spanish High Frequency Phrases and Verbs PDF

Spanish High Frequency Phrases and Verbs PNGs

Common Spanish Verbs

Spanish verbs are very complicated, especially if you set out to memorize all the endings and mathematical-like rules. You might be able to get them into your short-term memory that way, but here we are focusing on daily communication.

Instead, focus on what you want to say.Ser” (to be) is a messy verb. As you start out though, all you *really* need to know is how to express core phrases like is, I am, you are, etc. It’s how 2-year-olds begin, and reach fluency without knowing how to conjugate!

Here I’ve gathered 11 high-frequency verbs in Spanish, plus gustar (it’s essential when teaching kids.) I only included the he/she/it forms, along with I and you underneath. Eventually, you’ll acquire the forms for we, they, and you all, but these are the basics. When you are ready, the past tense forms are included as well. 

I made a Quizlet sets so you can access the pronunciation on each word:

Present Tense Verbs

 

Common Spanish Words

Here are some of the top Spanish words you’ll need to know as you get startedEspecially with words like these, memorizing them out of context is probably the slowest path to acquiring them. They are most memorable when read and heard in context.

But if you’re trying to work Spanish into your daily life, you’ll need to use these! First, you can see a list of core questions phrases. If you are teaching and reading books in Spanish with your kids, it’s very helpful to know how ask. Work them into daily life as you point out things during the day. 

For pronunciation help and clarification of use, here’s are Quizlet sets I’ve made:

Phrases for Parent and Families

Common Words / Question Words

This Quizlet set also uses most of the phrases I’ve shared

 

 

Common Spanish Phrases for Parents

 

If you would like to work some Spanish into daily routines and family life, here are some core phrases that you can post and begin to use right away. If you use phrases in context and attached to an action (Come here!), you’ll be amazed how much they stick!

 

More Lists

 

If you want more phrases, here are some more! I’m also sharing some Spanish-only lists, if that’s more helpful to you. 

 

Spanish Classrooms Tour: A Peek into 25+ Rooms

Spanish Classrooms Tour: A Peek into 25+ Rooms

Inside: A peek into dozens of Spanish classrooms, of all kinds, shapes, and sizes!

 

A well-designed room won’t make or break your teaching. Oh, but it can make a difference in how you and your students feel. 

Some of you have very limited options, and very tight budgets. I hope this post isn’t a Pinterest-y guilt-inducing post (there’s some serious classroom eye-candy, for sure), but a way to get new ideas for making your space functional and beautiful. 

If you are here looking for something specific, this post is long. Click on the titles if you’d like to jump to the following

Middle and High School

Preschool and Elementary

Spanish Classroom Libraries

 

And I have to say– as I put together this post, I was reminded of the eagerness of our nation’s teachers to share with other teachers (thank you to each and everyone who shared pictures!!), and how much they keep in mind the wellbeing of their students. More than perfection, I think this collection of photos communicate how much teachers care about their students.

Many spent their own money to buy comfortable chairs and build classroom libraries. Those August nights and weekends spent cutting out letters for bulletin boards and hammering together shelves probably went unpaid. You all are a special group of people!

 

 

 

And this one: “Altar de muertos dedicado a uno de los estudiantes que perdió la vida en un accidente el año pasado.”

Credit: Alicia Chávez Bartlett

 

Middle and High School Spanish Classrooms

 

We’ll start with picture from upper school classrooms across the nation. A lot of the rooms feature flexible seating, classroom libraries, or are even deskless.

 

Awesome Flexible Seating

 

I don’t even know what these chairs are called, but I know they’ve got to be popular. Amy Marshall’s classroom and blog are pretty classy and fun-looking. #iwantthesechairs 

 

Piñata-Land

 

I’ve never been able to hand things from the ceiling (darn fire code!), but this is what I would love to do if I could. How amazing are these hanging piñatas from Jenny Robbins’ classroom?

 

 

Group Work Heaven

 

Check out these amazing tables– so many possibilities in this Spanish classroom, from Alison Clausing. 

 

 

And Señora Chase has a whole tour of her room you don’t want to miss!

From here, the featured classrooms all have multiple photos. Click the arrows on the photos to see more all of them!

 

Minimalist + Reading Choice

 

I can’t resist the simplicity of this room, allowing for all kinds of options during reading time. It doubles as the art room, too! Gisele says: “I love , love my room but most importantly it serves my students – they love the flexible seating and when we have our FVR days they are allowed to create pods and sit wherever they feel comfortable. That is what matters to me and I am amazed at how much more reading they engage in when they have choices. I have a collection of cushions, rugs, and lounging chairs that they can arrange in “pods” in the classroom. Oddly enough they remind me of forts that children create during playtime.”
Profe: Gisele Conn
Site: Brain Based Learning

 

Deskless + Rainbow theme

 

See what it looks like to nail the black and rainbow look, with a library corner to die for. She keeps her classroom deskless, which is key for her famous baile viernes days!
Profe: Allison Weinhold
Site: Mis Clases Locas

 

Making a Mobile Work

 

This classroom is proof that you can take a portable and still make it look awesome, with plenty of culture too. 
Profe: Luis Miguel Ramírez, Liberal Arts & Science Academy – Austin, TX
Site: proferamirez.weebly.com

 

Pink + Llamas

 

This is what happens when your Spanish teacher is a Peruvian fashionista. Follow Sra. Davila-Madwid on Instagram for more teaching ideas and classroom eye candy!
Profe: Mariza Davila-Madwid

 

Teaching to Proficiency

 

Profe Jen Shaw works hard to teach to proficiency, and uses the CHAMPS method in her room. You can see how her decor and visuals make those goals clear to her students, while providing a pretty workspace.
Blog: Spanish with Sra. Shaw

 

Floor Envy

 

I don’t know what I’m more in love with: the floors, or the bookshelves in this deskless classroom. 
Profe: Mary Overton

 

Bright Spaces

 

Please come do my bulletin boards? Also, you must check out this organized teacher desk, coffee pot included. #yesplease
Profe: Carla Pelizarri

 

That IG Board, Though

This room is packed with books and culture, but I have to say my favorite part are the Instagram boards featuring Spanish-speaking artists. So clever and pretty!
Profe: Sara Glasbrenner
Site: TPRS with Señorita Glasbrenner

 

Cactus + Watercolor Classroom

Adorable. Says Maestra_Cutshall: “I am SO in love with my cactus-themed classroom this year! I was pretty sad about being in a portable classroom, but I’m now so cozy in our wood paneling, and I can’t imagine how I lived without all the storage (in a non-functioning bathroom hidden behind the shower curtains 😂.)”
Profe: Maestra_Cutshall
Instagram: @maestra_cutshall

 

#Mood

 

Though the tables have since been removed, you can still get the comfy vibe. I love the hanging flags and giant cushions.
Profe: Carrie Daniels Toth
Blog: Somewhere to Share

 

Rows to Circle

 

Here’s a small classroom that went from rows of tables to a circle of flexible seating. Make sure you see the posters on best work and the proficiency bulletin board.  
Profe: Karen Skinner (on Twitter as @senoraskinner)
Blog: The Authentic Señora

 

Immersed in Culture

 

These amazing walls are filled with art and culture (and I’m particularly partial to the Peruvian and FC Barcelona themes). 
Profe: Nadia Charcap

 

That Accent Wall Though

 

If you are allowed to paint, a bold color like this blue (with a gray wall and black accent around) can really make your room feel more homey and less institutional-like.
Profe: Emma Jones Cox
Twitter and IG: @emmaindilemma

 

Bright Colors + Real Life

 

Miss_maestra says, “Here are photos of my classroom from today (messes and all). I absolutely love my classroom and I always have fun decorating it each year. My classroom looked nothing like this my first year. It takes time to get to this point and I’m happy with it.” It’s nice for new teachers to hear that these things take time!
Profe: Miss_maestra
Instagram: @miss_maestra

 

Sillas, Sillas

 

I really liked the set up of these chairs (I’m guessing the lounge-ish chairs are reserved as rewards) and the nice open space are perfect for storytelling and acting in this TPRS classroom. I feel like you would have everyone’s attention with this set-up!
Profe: Michele Metcalfe
Twitter: @michellewestvan

 

Book-Centered Space

 

Books take the center stage here, as well as eye-catching posters for high-frequency verbs and phrases. Don’t miss the genius hoteléfono! 
Profe: Matt Hotopp

 

High Ceilings

 

I know some of us teach with low ceilings, so this feels like a breath of fresh air and posters take advantage of the extra space. I want the shower curtain (I think?) map on the wall too! 
Profe: Tana Luptak

 

Papel Picado

 

Have your students spend a period making papel picado, and you’ve got that festive and good-vibes feeling right away. (And check out the way some of the chairs are turned, so it’s not all rows.)
Profe: Katrina Miller Cox

 

Chair Heaven

 

Talk about flexible seating: this room has a little of everything! The library corner is irresistible and I just want to see what it looks like with all the Christmas lights on. 
Profe: Kristy Vernon (questions? kristy.vernon@wolfcreeklocal.org)

 

An Itty-Bitty Space

 

This is my room from a long time ago. Another class met in my room, so I never got to try deskless. The posters since got covered with high-frequency verbs too. 
Profe: Elisabeth Alvarado

 

Semi-circle Goodness

 

Sometimes, something simple like rearranging the chairs into a semi-circle instead of rows gives that feeling of community and communication. I really like those clean + pretty back bulletin boards too. 
Profe: Mayra Cabrera

 

 

Preschool & Elementary Spanish Classrooms

 

Now  we can start our tour of classrooms for younger crowds. I didn’t get as many pictures for this category, so please send me more at spanishmamatpt@gmail.com, if you have more. 🙂

 

Credit: Irma Vasquez, My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids

 

 

 

Room to Move

 

I love these clever bags that go on the backs of the chairs so you don’t need desks. There is so much room for movement! 
Profe: Carolina Gomez
Blog: Fun for Spanish Teachers

 

Blues and Greens

 

These blue tables are adorable AND double as chalkboards!
Profe: Jeanette Miranda-Gould

 

Happy Place

 

I love the cheerful yellow in this elementary classroom. 
Profe: Karla

 

Snapshots

 

I also was sent photos of specific posters, bulletin boards, or parts of rooms. Browse these for more ideas!

 

Spanish Classroom Libraries

 

A few of these images are repeats from above, but I wanted to have a whole section devoted to class libraries and hacks for storing books. Here’s what I’ve collected so far!

 

 

Marta Ruíz Yedinak

 


Anonymous

 

Matt Hotopp

Matt Hotopp

 

Credit: Mis Clases Locas

Credit: Gisele Conn

 

Credit: Blair Chalker Brown

 

 

 

 

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Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Inside: Thing bilingual moms do.

 

Mothering is interesting. So full of sweet moments!.. and also full of moments in which we would clearly choose teleportation of the entire family as our superpower. 

Sometimes I think my kids save up those “special moments” for the grocery store, the playground, or the dinner table at somebody else’s house. We react and handle things as best we can, hoping it’s the right thing to do. 

And sometimes, multilingualism saves the day. What can I say? Being bilingual– especially when you live in a fairly monolingual place– does give us some extra options. 

You can’t assume who speaks what around you, but it’s confession time. Here are five things I’ve actually done as a bilingual mom. Dads probably do them too. 

 

 

1. Make dire threats in the minority language.

Angry Comedy GIF by Bounce_TV - Find & Share on GIPHY

via GIPHY

Er… I mean, redirect. Some moms have to rely on that look; we can straight up say what we need to say in that grocery store line. 

 

2. Bribe our children in the minority language.

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Bribery is universally frowned upon in the parenting world, even though I’m pretty sure everybody does it. The good thing is we can get away with it.  Everybody around thinks we just repeated ourselves in a firm voice, and it magically worked. I’ll take it!

 

3. Redirect our kids in the majority language (for the benefit of other nearby parents). 

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Here’s a time to break out of the minority language: when your kids clearly need redirection, and you need all the other parents around to know you’re on it.

“Honey, let that little girl have a turn too,” exchange a smile with the mom across the playground, and you’re good to go.

 

4. Breathe a sigh of relief when our children say something rude(after realizing nobody understood it).

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Children say what they think: it’s a fact of life. It can also be horribly embarrassing. When my son once remarked that a nearby man looked like a wolf, I just prayed that the gentleman was monolingual and took the chance to quietly explain why he has to be careful saying things like that. The fact that is was said in English (and hopefully not understood) helped me play it cool and make the most of that teachable moment. 

 

5. Translate the positive…

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My three-year-old speaks whatever language she wants, in the moment. Did she just say something polite and adorable? Well, allow me to translate that for you. 

 

…and lie about the negative. 

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OH MY GOSH you CANNOT say that out loud.”
He loves it. Thank you sooo much.”
Don’t judge me but yes, yes, yes I’ve done this one.

 

6. Say sappy things to our kids without embarrassing them.

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Kids too embarrassed to show affection in front of their friends? No problem if they’re bilingual. You can sneak in all the mushy-gushy things you want as you drop them off at school. And maybe you’ll get that “love you mom” back, even when they’re “too old” to say it. 

 

via GIPHY

 

love being a Spanglish family. Of course, Spanish and English are widely spoken languages, and I should probably get going on a third, more obscure language, if I want to use of these “strategies” more effectively. #goals

 

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Things Bilingual Moms Do

Spanglish Movies and Series on Netflix

Spanglish Movies and Series on Netflix

Inside: Spanglish movies and series on Netflix. 

 

In the U.S., languages other than English have a way of dying. By the second or third generation, Italians and Swedes had generally lost their native speech, but some speculate Spanish may prove to be the an exception

Spanglish could be seen as a slippery slope of mixed language, such that heritage speakers lose their Spanish. If that’s all kids hear, it’s certainly a possibility. But for my part, I love the influx of Spanglish into American media and pop culture. Spanglish is my life. A third pure English, a third pure Spanish, and a third Spanglish. 

So when Netflix start airing shows with Spanglish families like mine, I watch. I like seeing my world on screen and I think it says to my kids: Spanish is something to celebrate. Multilingualism is a great thing. 

And also… some of you are in Spanglish relationships. You may love Spanish-language shows, but perhaps your partner isn’t so excited about reading subtitles for the next month. Here’s your compromise!

 

Spanglish Movies and Shows

 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update! This is a mix of family-friendly series and not-so-family-friendly, so please be sure to click on the title and check ratings. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 

1. Jane the Virgin 

 

Three generations of Latinas living under one roof star in this amazing Spanglish show. Jane’s world is forever turned upside down when she’s accidentally inseminated by her gynecologist. What ensues is a mostly light-hearted (but often poignant) story of how different generations, cultures, and genders come around Jane’s new life and baby. Anyone who has watched telenovelas will appreciate the purposely humorous and dramatic references throughout the show. 

 

 

2. Un Día a la vez (One Day at a Time) 

 

It’s hard not to love this show! Again, here we have three generations under one roof, this time a Cuban-American family, working out life, culture, and family together. This is truly a Spanglish show, with dialogue going back and forth between languages as different generations communicate. This is a family-friendly show (TV-PG) you might be able to watch with your older kids. 

(One thing I love is that several characters try to learn more Spanish, and are shown making an effort to keep up with their heritage or new language.)

 

 

3. Narcos

 

Completely switching genres, Narcos follows the pursuit of Pablo Escobar and other drug lords in Colombia. Unlike several previous shows, this one is told entirely from the American perspective. Gritty and suspenseful, Narcos is one of those series that pulls you in and is hard to turn off. 

 

 

4. Casa de Mi Padre

 

Ok, Casa de Mi Padre is technically all in Spanish, but since Will Ferrell isn’t a native speaker I’m claiming it as Spanglish material. Playing on every telenovela stereotype out there, this one will be funniest for those who are familiar with both U.S. and Latino culture and humor.

How to know if you’ll like it? Well, if you like both Will Ferrell and Gael García Bernal… this one’s for you. 

 

 

5. Entre Nos

 

Based on a true story, a Colombian mother travels New York with her two children, only to be abandoned by her husband once there. She must improvise and find a way to survive on her own, by collecting cans in the city trash.

 

 

6. Ladrones

 

When a wealthy woman steals land from a group of hard-working Texan families, they seek help from a legendary Robin Hood pair in Mexico to steal the title back. A funny, action-packed movie not meant to be taken too seriously. Watch when you’re in the mood to watch the good guys triumph and the bad guys get what they deserve. 

 

 

What other Spanglish series and movies can I add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Spanglish shows on Netflix

 

 

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

 Inside: The best Netflix Spain movies. 

 

Netflix, with its ever-expanding range of options, has a growing selection of made-in Spain movies and shows. I’ve got some great titles for you here, whether you’re a native speaker or looking to keep up your Spanish skills. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update!

 

NETFLIX SPAIN MOVIES

 

Ready? Let’s get started.

 

1. Contratiempo (Invisible Guest)

 

A wealthy businessman is accused of murder and seeks the help of a famous lawyer to mount a defense as the last hours of his trial wind down. His storytelling of those events takes us down a darkening path of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. I multitasked quite a bit while preparing this blog post and watched movies, but this movie had my full attention, and me on the edge of my seat. If you like suspense, this is a must-watch with incredible acting.

Info: Mystery, Thriller | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

 

2. Perdiendo el norte (Off Course)

 

A light-hearted comedy about two Spaniards who can’t find a job in Spain (despite being over-qualified on paper). Fed up with Spanish life, they move to Berlin in hopes of finding work, only to end up in a café. Life in Berlin comes with new romance, but also a host of cultural differences to navigate.

Info: Romantic Comedy | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2015

 

 

3. Fe de etarras (Bomb Scared)

 

Four Basque terrorists are trying to plan an attack on Spain. They wait for orders from “above,” in a Spanish apartment, and have to deal with everyday life and neighbors while unsure of the future. A dark comedy that was surprisingly compelling and funny. 

Info:  Comedy  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2017

 

 

4. Ocho apellidos (Spanish Affair)

 

“Cuando el sur y el norte chocan, el conflicto alcanza proporciones épicas.” Spanish culture collides when a Sevillian falls for a woman from Basque– even though he’s never before left his hometown. I didn’t love the chemistry between the main actors, but still enjoyable and cute. 

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2014

 

 

5. Ocho apellidos catalanes (Spanish Affair 2)

 

The couple we met in the Spanish Affair (Rafa and Amaia) have broken up. Amaia is engaged to a Catalonian her father doesn’t like, so he enlists help from Rafa to win her back and break off the new engagement. I enjoyed this one more than the first and found it more convincing, especially the storylines between the supporting characters. If you like the Spanish Affair, definitely follow up with this one.

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2015

 

 

6. 100 metros (100 Meters)

 

Based on a true story about a man with a young family who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Determined to resist the disease as long as he can, he commits to training for an Ironman– with the help of his father-in-law, who has troubles of his own. I sobbed by the end; keep tissues nearby for this heart-wrenching and inspiring story.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish |  2016

 

 

 

7. La reina de España (The Queen of Spain) 

 

It’s 1956, and an American film company is making a movie about Isabel and Ferdinand, at the request of Franco– and Macarena Granada, now a big name in Hollywood, returns to her native Spain after 20 years to star in it. I found it slow and forced overall, but there’s a deep undercurrent of complicated Spanish history and a cast of actors that many viewers will enjoy nonetheless. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio  |  2016

 

 

8. El bar (The Bar)

 

A group of people are trapped in a bar in Madrid, after two people are shot and mysteriously disappear. As they try to figure out what is happening outside– terrorism? the end of the world?– tensions and suspicions rise inside the bar.

Info: Comedy, Horror, Thriller |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2017

 

 

9. Ahora o nunca (It’s Now or Never)

 

A couple who got together in a fairytale high school romance is getting married. The week of the wedding turns nightmare as everything goes wrong, quirky friends and family in tow. 

Info: Comedy |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2015

 

 

10. Nuestros amantes (Our Lovers)

 

Different from the usual rom-com storyline, this romantic “dramady” follows a couple who meet in a coffeeshop and decide to maintain an out-the-box-friendship: no exchange of personal information, and no romance. Things go beautifully until their personal lives intersect with fantasy, and they must confront reality.

Info:  Romance, Comedy  |  Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles  |  2016

 

 

11. 7 Años (7 Years)

 

Four friends are in business together, and have committed tax fraud. If one of them volunteers to go to jail for seven years, the company came remain intact and the other friends can walk free. The question is which one? They hire a consultant to help decide who it should be. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2016

 

 

12. Palmeras en la nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)

 

A Spanish woman travels to Africa in hoping to unearth old family secrets, after finding a letter her dying father left behind. The story moves between her search and forbidden love in the time of colonialism. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2015

 

 

13. A cambio de nada (Nothing in Return)

 

A coming-of-age story about a troubled teenager figuring out life and getting into trouble with his best friend. Poignant at times, tough at others, A Cambio de Nada explores adolescence in the context of trouble at school, trouble at home, and finding friendship.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015

 

 

13. Secuestro (Boy Missing)

 

A young boy is kidnapped, and his suspected kidnapper gets off on a technicality. The boy’s mother, a respected attorney, takes matters into her own hands and events soon spiral out of control. (I didn’t actually watch this one– after becoming a mom I just can’t handle scary things involving kids!)

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015

 

 

13. El guardián invisible (The Invisible Guardian)

 

A young woman’s body is found in the woods, and female inspector Salazar is put on the case. As she investigates the murder and begins to follow the case of a serial killer, she must confront her own past. (I didn’t watch this one either, but if you like serial killer murder-mysteries, this one’s for you.)

Info:  Thriller  |  Spanish Audio, Spanish/English Subtitles  |  2017

 

What other Netflix Spain movies do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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Netflix Spain movies

15 Powerful Spanish Songs About Immigration

15 Powerful Spanish Songs About Immigration

Inside: Spanish songs about immigration: a playlist. 

 

While researching for a post on immigration, I decided to look into songs. And wow– I came across some amazing music. These shouldn’t be missed, so I’m devoting a whole post to them. 

I think it’s hard to teach a unit on immigration. If you have a large population of immigrant families, the topic obviously hits close to home. For other classrooms, the temptation to apply stereotypes and generalize is huge. If our resources are lopsided, just one story gets told: it’s easy for students to walk away assuming every undocumented immigrant has a similar back story, or that most immigrants are undocumented.

In reality, people move countries for varied reasons, and under many circumstances. With these songs, I hope to offer more than “one story,” so your students can connect to varied artistic voices and perspectives.

(If you’re looking for more lists, see my Songs in Spanish page.)

 

Spanish Songs About Immigration

 

I attempted to attach a level to each song– hopefully it’s accurate. By saying a song is novice-high, I don’t mean that a NH student will immediately understand every word. I mean that with some teacher support, the song will be useful and largely comprehensible. The students could read it over it and get the gist. 

(PLEASE be mindful that several songs here will be difficult to watch, especially for families that have been affected by deportation experiences.)

 

1. Pobre Juan

 

Maná wrote this song in 2002, around the time that border crossings were at an all-time high. It’s written in story-form, and heavy. Maná says this: 

Pobre Juan” … es una triste realidad que sucede todos los días, una historia de Juan y miles de inmigrantes mexicanos y Latinoamericanos que fallecen en la lucha de cruzar la frontera (y) fallecen o desaparecen.

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up, narrated in past tense.)

 

 

2. Fronteras – Gaby Moreno 

 

While not officially an immigration song, the themes (“fronteras,” “esperanza,” and “yo pertenezco aquí“) lend themselves well to the topic. The song shows scenes and stories from Guatemala, which is where was Gaby Moreno was born before relocating to the U.S.

I like using this one because it offers hopeful language and music, while showing beautiful scenes and strong characters from Guatemala. 

(Level: Novice-High and up, mostly present tense.)

 

 

3. Un Besito Más – Jesse y Joy 

 

This one is powerful. Un Besito Más shows the story of a couple attempting to make a new life in the U.S. after crossing the border, and the terrible complications of children who have citizenship being separated from undocumented parents. It’s written from the perspective of a child who stayed in the U.S. after her parents were deported.

(Level: Novice-High and up. Lots of imperfect tense and present tense.)

 

While working with this song, I made some slides with screenshots from the video that narrate the story, using mostly past tenses. Feel free to use! (The editable version is available as part of my Voces de los inmigrantes Song Pack.) 

 

 

4. ICE El Hielo – La Santa Cecilia

 

Ice El Hielo gets a bit more political, and was produced as part of the #Not1More series. The video shows vignettes of Latino immigrants living the U.S., who later get taken by ICE and deported. Hard to watch, for sure, but reflects the reality and uncertainty of living and working without documents here. 

(Level: Novice-High and up, with support. Mix of tenses.)

 

I also made some slides for this one, using simple language for novices, in the present tense. Feel free to use! (The editable version is also available as part of my Voces de los inmigrantes Song Pack.) 

 

 

5. Ave Que Emigra

 

Another Gaby Moreno favorite, this song describes her personal experience of emigrating to the U.S. 

“Recuerdos desde mi infancia
Que a veces parten el alma
Mi Guate nunca la olvido
La llevo siempre conmigo…”

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up, due to some low-frequency phrases. The video works well for discussing present life vs. past experiences.)

 

 

6. A Las Tres – Enanitos Verdes 

 

A Las Tres is written from the perspective of an immigrant working far away from his family, and sending money home to support them. This is a powerful perspective on the conflict of wanting (or needing) the opportunities found in the U.S., while yearning for home. 

(Level: Novice-Mid and up. Mainly present tense and comprehensible phrasing.)

 

7. Mis Dos Patrias – Los Tigres del Norte

 

Los Tigres del Norte have several immigration-themed songs (Mojados Tres Veces, Jaula de Oro), but I included this one because it explores a lightly different theme: actually living in the this, as a new citizen, and feeling split between two identities.

(Level: Novice-High and up, I think. With some support upfront, the song is pretty accessible.)

 

 

Songs 1-7 are available part of my Voces de los inmigrantes Song Pack. Check it out if you’d like some ready-to-go printables and activities, or keep scrolling!

 

8. Papeles Mojados – Chambao

 

If you want something outside the typical Latino-US box, here’s your immigration song in Spanish. 

(Level: Intermediate- Mid and up.)

 

9. Pa’l Norte – Calle 13 

 

Use this one with caution in class– preview for sure. It’s one of the most provoking songs out there, both in the video and lyrics. 

Hoy me voy Pa’l norte sin pasaporte
Sin transporte
A pie, con las patas
Pero no importa este hombre se hidrata
Con lo que retratan mis pupilas
Cargo con un par de paisajes en mi mochila
Cargo con vitamina de clorofila
Cargo con un rosario que me vigila
Sueño con cruzar el meridiano

(Level: Intermediate-Low or Mid and up, with lots of metaphorical language.)

 

 

10. El Inmigrante – Calibre 50

 

Piensan que por que brinque la linea
Soy un narcotraficante
Ya basta de mil humillaciones
Nomas por ser “inmigrante”
Estoy cantando por toda mi gente

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up.)

 

11. El Mojado – Ricardo Arjona

 

El Mojado takes on the term “wetback,” though it’s worth noting that the word in Spanish doesn’t carry quite the same connotations. He describes the experience and anxiety of living without papers in the U.S.

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up.)

 

12. “Shock” in Arizona – Ana Tijoux

 

A song of protest to abuses of power and discrimination in the American southwest. 

(Level: Intermediate-High and up.)

 

 

13. Lágrimas del Corazón – Grupo Montéz De Durango

 

A tribute to the fathers who leave their children behind to work and send money home, the lyrics switch between a son and a father who are apart. 

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up.)

 

14. Bandera – Aterciopelados

 

A gripping commentary on immigration, privilege and power. 

(Level: Novice-High and up.)

 

 

15. Clandestino – Manu Chao

 

Reggae-style, this song tells the story about being termed “cladestino” for not having papers. Contains the word marihuana

(Level: Intermediate-Low and up.)

 

 

 

What immigration songs in Spanish did I miss? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. 

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Spanish songs about immigration

 

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