Have you ever wondered how to introduce Spanish songs into your World Language classes but feel your students do not have the language knowledge yet in order to learn the lyrics? I have been in that situation and I used to believe songs were fun and engaging and were perfect for my Spanish class but, every time I tried to play a song in my classroom, they were difficult and my students were frustrated since the songs were fast and mostly hard for non-native speakers to understand.
Don’t get me wrong, they are fun, beautiful, and engaging…but a song that’s written for a native speaker is not going to be easy for a student who isn’t native unless the songs are really simple and have lots of repetitions.
In this case, and if you love music as I do, I highly recommend you these tips in order to use songs in your World Language class:
1. Use a song that has a story in the video that you can narrate. Once you pick the song, focus on what’s happening in the video, instead of the song’s lyrics. I often do this and I write what’s happening in the story in a PowerPoint presentation, take screenshots of the video, and use my own version using simple and recycled vocabulary that my students are familiar with.
2. Pick a Spanish song for kids that you like, even if it’s a little complicated, and narrow it down by focusing on only one simple sentence or a short and comprehensible catchy paragraph instead of the full song. A full song might be too much vocabulary for a second language learner.
3. Pick a song that has a good pace. A song that is too fast might create some frustration in your students and they won’t be able to follow along.
A song that’s too slow might not be that catchy and students might lose interest. Make sure you do your research! There are tons of songs that might have the same topic or lyrics and you just have to pick the right one based on your student’s level.
To give you a better example, I am going to refer to the song: “Los pollitos dicen”. I love this song because it’s an authentic resource and it reminds me of my days in elementary school back in Colombia.
To introduce the song, I usually look for the best fit for my classes. If you type on YouTube Los pollitos dicen, you can see there are many many versions. Some of them are fast, slow and some are just perfect. At my student’s level, I want to show you what I would and wouldn’t pick. But please know that my students’ level might be different than yours, depending on how many times a week they have Spanish class or how long they have been taking it.
The first option is a beautiful version, but in my opinion, it’s too fast for students who are not Spanish native speakers vs the second option which is slower and easier to understand.
4. Use songs as a brain break: When you choose a song as a brain break, the most important part should energize your students and allow them to take a break, so don’t worry if they don’t know what all the words mean.
Pick a song that makes your students move, something fun and engaging that makes them have a good time. There is a song called Alrededor that my students are obsessed with and it’s from Rockalingua and the best part is that is FREE.
The other good thing about the brain break is that you can play the song several times during the week and eventually students will start picking up some of the words of the lyrics, but remember, that shouldn’t be your focus.
5. Once you pick the song you want to work with, you can use extension activities like Bingo, memory games, read and match, and reading aloud.
Here is an example of how I did Los pollitos dicen with my elementary students.
- Story: Adapted the lyrics from the song and created a simple story using vocabulary words my students were familiar with:
- Picked the right song from different versions and I Introduced the song to my class (refer to the second video) ?
- Worked with extension activities to reinforce vocabulary words: Memory games and reading activities. (see the picture below). This process took me between 3-4 weeks and my students really enjoyed every single activity we did in class. Once you teach the song, you can keep playing it in different classes and use it as a Brain Break. Don’t forget to have fun! ?
Los pollitos dicen is available to purchase