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Episode 04: 9 Creative Ways to Learn Spanish with Music

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    Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

    Episode 04

    9 Creative Ways to Learn Spanish with Music

    Are you one of the millions of people that loves Latin music?  Have you ever heard a song in Spanish that you really like and you wish you could understand it? Do you want to incorporate music into your language learning but don’t know whereto start?  Not to worry, by the end of this episode you’ll have 9 creative ways you can use music in learning Spanish,whether you’re Spanish level is beginner or intermediate.





    Hola a todos, bienvenidos. Welcome to episode four of the Learn Spanish con Salsa podcast. Have you ever heard a song in Spanish that you really like and you wish you could understand it? Or have you ever had a song that just got stuck in your head and you couldn’t stop thinking about it? Music has this way of getting right to our memory and emotions, and we can use those characteristics of music to help us with our Spanish. Now, we talk a lot about different ways to learn Spanish with music. On this podcast and in this episode I’ll share with you nine creative ways you can practice your Spanish using music. I’m going to give you some specific suggestions for some things you can do to begin incorporating music into your Spanish learning right away. So here we go.

    Number one is a vocabulary quiz.

    When you listen to a song for the first time, you’re bound to hear some new words, some vocabulary that you didn’t previously know.  And even if you understand the gist of what the word means in context, it’s good to pick out those words that are new for you so that you can bring them out of your passive vocabulary, which just means vocabulary that you can hear and understand but you don’t use, and bring it into your active vocabulary.  And your active vocabulary are the words that you actually produce when you are speaking and writing Spanish.


    So these are words that you are really confident that you know very well versus passive vocabulary where you just sort of understand and only when you hear the word in context. So going through this process of writing down new and passive vocabulary that you hear from a song and quizzing yourself on that new vocabulary is a simple way to recall keywords and phrases from each song that you listen to.

    So there’s several different ways you can do this. You can do it the old-fashioned way and make a word list. You can make your own flashcards, which I would recommend. You can also use a flashcard app. You can use your favorite flashcard app, but if you’re looking for suggestions, I’ll actually link to in the show notes. I do a pretty detailed comparison between two of the most popular flashcard apps used by language learners and one of them is Anki and the other one is Quizlet, which is used by teachers and in classrooms for all types of subjects. But it’s really useful for language learning because it has an audio feature.


    When you go and type in a word, it will play back a pretty decent audio of the word that you’ve added to your flash cards. So that also helps you with your pronunciation when you’re reviewing vocabulary. So my first recommendation to incorporate music into your Spanish learning is to simply identify new vocabulary and quiz yourself on that vocabulary.

    Number two is simply to do a fill in the blank exercise or what’s sometimes called a close exercise. Now, to do this, you’ll actually have to find accurate lyrics for the song that you’re listening to and you’ll simply create your own fill in the blank activity by creating blank spaces for some of the words. Then you’ll want to listen to the song and try to fill in the blanks to test your listening comprehension. There are also some websites that have these fill in the blank type of activities that you can use.


    You can look for the Lyrics Training site and they provide custom made games that you can generate based on your Spanish level. Now, the only caution about Lyrics Training is if you’re a beginner and you’re also looking for the translations for the songs, you will not find that on lyrics training. So I really would recommend that if you’re more of an intermediate level learner so that you don’t get frustrated with trying to find the translation for the song, but it is a fun way to practice your listening comprehension.

    We also have several fill in the blank exercises on the learnspanishconsalsa.com website. There we actually provide a small excerpt of the song so you don’t get overwhelmed. So we take an excerpt from some popular new songs and also some classics salsa and bachata songs and you play the song and you’re able to drag and drop the words into the blank spaces in the lyrics.


    So that’s a fun exercise. Again, that’s completely free on the learnspanishconsalsa.com website. You can actually find it in the Spanish listening practice section and I’ll link to that in the show notes as well so that you can find all of our Spanish listening practice activities that we currently have available.

    And we add new ones every week. So if you have a suggestion or a song that you would like to see, definitely let us know. You can reach us on Instagram @learnspanishconsalsa or just comment in the show notes for this episode and time permitting we will add your requested songs to the website so you can have your very own fill in the blank activity to practice your Spanish listening skills with music.

    Now, recommendation number three. This is actually one that most people don’t do, but I really recommend it to improve your ability to speak Spanish and that is to write sentences using vocabulary that you’ve learned in the song.


    Now you might be thinking, how can writing help me with speaking? Well, we talked a little bit about active and passive vocabulary before and it’s really difficult in the spur of the moment in a conversation to use a word for the first time that you’ve never used before. However, if you practice in advance, writing some sentences with a new word or phrase—and I actually recommend learning phrases instead of just individual words—but if you write that out and you practice some examples in context for how you might use it in a real world conversation, you’ll be much more likely to actually say it when the time comes while you’re speaking Spanish.

    So I recommend writing three to five sentences for each new phrase or word that you learned in the song, and that will really help you get more comfortable with actually using the words that you’ve learned.


    So again, they come out of your passive into your active vocabulary. Now I do recommend reviewing those sentences with a tutor or one of your language partners so that you make sure that you’re using the word or phrase correctly. A lot of times when we translate things literally we may think we can use it in one context or another because it’s similar to English and sometimes that works, but sometimes it does not. So definitely verify that with a native Spanish speaker, but practice producing those sentences on your own so that you can get your vocabulary out of your head and into your mouth.

    Now, the fourth way you can incorporate music into your Spanish learning. I call it karaoke time. Now we all know what karaoke is. It’s when you sing along with the song while you’re reading the lyrics and this is a really good way to practice your pronunciation so you don’t have to go to a karaoke bar and stand in front of a room of strangers.


    Although I will say I did actually see this on a trip to Mexico years ago. I was saying I actually at a resort and they had a karaoke night and it was really fun. I did not get up and sing, but it was definitely a lot of fun to watch. But like I said, this can be a lot of fun and it’s a great way to practice your pronunciation. You should be able to hear the difference in how you sound and how the singer sounds.  And I don’t just mean the quality of their voice because obviously you’re not going to sound like Shakira or Marc Anthony, but you might notice that, oh, they pronounced this word differently and I need to work on that pronunciation. So it’s a good way to identify some errors that you’re making and to practice correcting them.

    Number five, I call Speak into the Mic.


    Now, this is similar to karaoke time, but instead of just singing along with the song for practice, you’ll actually want to record yourself while you’re singing along, or again, if you can’t sing like me, you can just simply read the lyrics and then play it back and listen to how you sound versus the native speaker. This will help you pinpoint what you need to focus on to improve your pronunciation. So remember, you’re focusing on pronunciation and not pitch. You can even just read the lyrics like you’re reading a poem and don’t really focus on the melody of the song as much as you’re focusing on how to pronounce the words.

    This is something, again, that you can get feedback from one of your language partners or tutors and they can help you identify areas that you need to improve.  But also ask for feedback on things that you’re doing well, so you want to build on the things that you’re doing right by identifying the words that you’re pronouncing correctly, as well as identify the areas that you have for improvement.


    That can also be very motivating when you focus on the things that you’re doing right so that Speak into the Mic.

    Now number six is Recommend to a Friend.  So you can do this on social media or in a text or an email, but I recommend that you send a link to the song to one of your friends, but instead of just sharing the song, write a brief note explaining what the song is about and why you like it. Now, of course, there should be a friend that speaks Spanish so that you can actually practice writing in Spanish. If you don’t have any friends that speak Spanish right now, you can find a language partner using an app like Tandem or HelloTalk and use this as an icebreaker so when you’re introducing yourself to a potential language partner, you can say, hey, this is one of my favorite songs.


    Explain a little bit about the song and why you like that song, so that can be a fun way to introduce yourself and most likely they’ll return the favor by telling you what their favorite song is. So it will also help you increase your playlist of Latin music.

    OK, number seven is Talk About It, so schedule a conversation with a private tutor. You can use a site like our partner iTalki, or if you are a member of Spanish Con Salsa, you can book a session with one of our coaches in the community. Or you can also reach out to a language exchange partner. Schedule a time to have a conversation where you review the lyrics to the song. I recommend reviewing the lyrics line by line if you have a tutor so that they can explain to you any issues with the translation of the song, especially if you found this song online.


    I highly recommend that you schedule a private session with a tutor. You can find a pretty reasonable rate for a tutor, but take that time to go through the song line by line and really make sure you get the correct meaning of the song. You’ll also want to have a conversation about the song. What do you think about the song? What do you like or dislike about the song? What do you think about the artist? What do you know about the culture of the singer? Obviously, depending on the topic of the song, there’s a lot that you’ll be able to talk about just by going through the song lyrics. So that’s another fun way that you can practice your Spanish using music.

    Number eight, Tell Me a Story. So this is where you actually take the time to write about your thoughts. On the topic of the song, you can discuss the message of the lyrics, talk about what the song means to you or any experiences that you may have had in your own life that mirror the contents of the song.


    The key here is to be creative. Write a narrative that relates to the song or simply talk about how the song has impacted you, and the key of course is to write this in Spanish, so I definitely recommend this for intermediate language learners. If you’re a beginner, this may be a little challenging for you right now, but definitely if you’re an intermediate learner, challenge yourself to write longer phrases in Spanish and tell a story about the song.

    And finally, you can record a short video or write an article with your critique of the song. You can talk in detail about what you liked and didn’t like, whether it was the musicality, what you think of the artist, the lyrics, the topic of the song, the language that you use.


    So you’re really pretend to be a music critic and give a very detailed breakdown of your thoughts about the song. So again, this is kind of a fun activity if you’re an intermediate level and if you’re not camera shy, recording a video can be a fun way to see how you get your thoughts together, speaking extemporaneously in Spanish.  But you can also write something posted on your social media, see what kind of feedback you get or send it to your language partners and Spanish speaking friends.

    So there you have it. Nine ways that you can use music in your Spanish learning. So a brief review:

    1.      Number one is a Vocabulary Quiz where you try to recall keywords and phrases from the song.

    2.      Two was fill in the blank where you listen to a song and test out your listening comprehensions by guessing the missing words and the lyrics.


    3.      Number three: Write sentences to practice using the new vocabulary that you’ve learned.

    4.      Four is Karaoke Time. Sing along with the song while you’re reading the lyrics or practice your pronunciation.

    5.      Five was Speak into the Mic. Record yourself saying the lyrics of this song.

    6.      Number six, Recommend to a Friend. This is where you send a brief note explaining what you like about the song to a friend.

    7.      Number seven, Talk About It. Have a conversation with a tutor or language partner specifically about this song.

    8.      Number Eight, Tell Me a Story. Write your own narrative about what the song means to you,

    9.      And finally Be a Music Critic. Talk about what you think of the song, the artist, the lyrics, and the music.

    So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and you found at least one activity that you can incorporate into your Spanish study right away. As always, I’d love to hear from you about what you thought about this episode.


    You can find us on Instagram @learnspanishconsalsa, or you can go to the show notes page and leave a comment at learnspanishconsalsa.com/4. That’s learnspanishconsalsa.com/4 and that’s where episode four of the podcast. I’ll also have links to all the resources I mentioned in this episode in the show notes, so make sure you check those out. As always, I hope you’ve learned something in this episode to take you one step closer from being a Spanish beginner to bilingual. I’ll see you in the next episode. Adios.


    This episode of Learned Spanish Con Salsa is brought to you by our partner. iTalki the effective fastest way to become fluent in a foreign language. You’ll make more progress with one on one lessons customized for your learning style and goals. You can take lessons from anywhere at a time that is convenient for you. Connect with people from around the world, learn the language and learn how people really speak. Get started today and get a free $10 credit with your first lesson purchase. Just visit go visit http://go.italki.com/spanishconsalsa.


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