Using Popular Songs In Spanish Class as Cultural Input in 10 activities!

This is not a shinning blog post with all the bells and whistles- I have no time for that! But, I would like to share some of the activities that I do in class as a way to spark ideas in teachers regarding fun and simple ways to incorporate more culture in class.

So this idea was inspired by Justin at SpanishPlans. You can check out his website here. Every year, he and many other teachers around the world participate in Locura de Marzo (March Madness). During this time, they introduce songs to students, and with those songs come cultural elements, new words, etc. Well, this year, I could not fully participate, but I did take notice of the songs and format. I grabbed a few songs and used them as a springboard to teach about the people, target culture, and language. Below is an example of what I did with Maluma's song: Corazón (this song was on his list last year). 

As a point of reference, my normal practice is to pre-teach a bit of vocabulary, give them a song sheet, and we sing and dance. However, this year, I took a slightly different approach. Below are 9 ways I engaged students, by incorporating a bit more culture, integrating what we're already learning (we are currently reading "El Jersey" as part of our Sports unit, so I made sure to touch on high-frequency stem-changing verbs during our lesson). 

Communicative functions and content gleaned from this activity: 

  • Saber (KWL)
  • Ser+ Origen- Where is Maluma from 
  • Descriptions (discussing Maluma as a previewing activity). 
  • Estar+ location (Where is Colombia in relation to the other countries)
  • Geogrpahy (Short video on Colombia)
  • A short story highlighting high-frequency stem-changing verbs 

10 Activities 

1. The best way to start any culture activity is by doing a KWL, or a "What I Think I know." Here, I asked students to state some things they knew about Colombia. 

  • Yo sé que Colombia es un país. En Colombia las personas hablan español. 
  • Perhaps next time, I can have them share with each other and jot down what other people know about Colombia. Ella sabe que... Nosotros sabemos... 

 2. Pre-viewing (Again, nothing too shiny). Here are the activities I did with my Spanish level I students: 

Discuss where Maluma is from (see the picture below). 

  • Here we used, "Él es de+ country". I also asked ¿Es de Ecuador? ¿Es de Perú? ¿Es de México? These questions allowed students to use double negation and practice already acquired structures. We also discussed his physical characteristics (alto, castaño, guapo, etc). 

3. Have students point out Colombia/Medellín on a map/Ask students about the surrounding countries

  • For this segment, we used the prepositions "cerca"  and "lejos." ¿Brasil está cerca o lejo de Colombia? ¿Cuáles son los países que están cerca de Colombia?

4. We also discussed the controversy surrounding Maluma

  • Here, I just mentioned feminists had issues with music.

5. Show students a short video highlighting the geography of Colombia or the country of origin you're featuring (the video was in English). This was done to give them an appreciation of the country. Again, it was only two minutes and provided more context than what I usually provide. 

6. Provide them with some vocabulary words only for the first part of the song, namely the pre-chorus (We did not sing the whole song). I gave examples of words in Spanish. This was fun!

-Corazón roto/partido       
-amor no correspondido 

7. Since the video features a story, I gave them the introduction of that story (below) and also the task of seeing how the story was going to end. This made them so excited and they followed the young boy on his adventures.  

8. Short story (I read it with expression)

¿Alguna vez has tenido un corazón roto? El amor es muy difícil en la vida. A veces, queremos a las personas, pero las personas no nos quieren a nosotros. ¿Qué hacemos cuando experimentamos un amor no correspondido? En este video, ¡un chico piensa que tiene la solución! Él tiene el corazón roto. No llora . No está enojado. No grita. Él está muy tranquilo porque tiene una solución. En vez de regalarle su corazón a una chica, regala su corazón a MUCHAS CHICAS.  ¿Qué va a pasar al final del video? ¿El chico va a estar feliz con muchas chicas? ¿Las chicas van a estar felices? ¡Entérate!
9. For the lyrics, I gave them options. So the first verse was:
Tú me _________________ (compartiste/partiste) el corazón (again, only the first section of the song).
10. They also had to draw four scenes from the video story.Drawing activity (based on song)

Dibuja cuatro escenas del video 

Check out premium resources on how to use songs in class!

If you are looking for ways to integrate songs, and stories, please check out the resources of Kara Jacobs and Kristy Plácido. I used "Robarte un beso" Resource by Kristy, and it was AMAZING! She included a really great article on Vallenato, typical music from Colombia (I feel like I grew up with this music!). 

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