So you want to match them with music!

In my iFLT session on detox(tbooking), we talked about downsizing. Even if you’re bound by a textbook or a department using way too many “units”, you can pare away the words you know are less valuable and make some room for fun things that really connect students with the language… things like music.

My 12 year old son synced his iPhone with my computer and it put my Spanish music into his library… imagine my surprise when I found him listening to Sofía by Álvaro Soler.  I said “Nick, do you like it?” and he replied “I may not know what it’s saying yet but it is so darn catchy!”  If music can do this for a student who is NOT in Spanish class yet, imagine what it will do when they understand a few or even MANY of the lyrics in their new language!

I DO match songs to my units in most cases.  For example when we study El Salvador’s Civil War and read the novel Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha, we listen to the SPANISH version of Gangsta by Kat Dahlia and Sueño Americano by los Rakas… but there are a lot of songs I use as weekly bell-ringers that get in my students heads and keep them listening to the language outside the classroom.

What I do with the songs varies!  I may have them do a CLOZE activity.  We might listen all week and finish with a game of on the SMARTboard.  We might do an activity with manipulatives… there are so many ways to use songs differently!  If you have always used songs, these songs will likely be familiar to you… if not, they may give you a great place to start.

5 great songs for Spanish 1: You are the One by Sonny Monreal (Spanish and English gives them a confidence boost as the first song of the year), Picky by Joey Montana (Available here from my TPT if you need a little help getting started), Te Quiero by DJ Flex, Tengo tu Love by Sie7e, Cuando me Enamoro by Enrique Iglesias and Juan Luis Guerra.

5 great songs for Spanish 2: Como te Odio by Lasso, Sofía by Álvaro Soler (Available here from my TPT if you want to see some sample activities), Solo Soy by Doctor Krápula, Todo Cambió by Camila, Darte un Beso by Prince Royce (Available here as a movie talk unit from Kristy at Placido Language Resources).

8 great songs for Spanish 3 and 4: La Bicicleta by Shakira (Available here), Cómo te Atreves by Morat, Paraíso by D’Vicio (Available here), Sé que te Duele by Alejandro Fernández (Available here), Andas en mi Cabeza by Chino y Nacho (Available here from Martina Bex’s Comprehensible Classroom), Amor con Hielo (Also from the Comprehensible Classroom), La Gozadera by Gente de Zona, Latinoamérica by Calle 13.

Whichever songs you choose to use with your students, just ENJOY the music with them! For me, there is no grade attached.  I DO have them turn in their cloze activity if we do one (but I never load it to the online gradebook and they never seem to ask about it)!  This relaxed policy on music makes it feel like listening to music in their L1 and they start to do it AT HOME!  Without being prompted!!!  It’s like they’re doing homework for FUN!  They even find NEW SONGS! 🙂

Always keep one ear on Batanga radio to see what’s new that you think will become an earworm and set Spanish in their head even outside the classroom!


Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

4 thoughts

  1. I love this post! Yes! I use music in my classroom too, sometimes as a brain break, as they’re coming in the classroom or with an activity (some of the ones you mentioned above). Thank you so much for sharing the great ideas of songs for different levels and for your awesome presentation #iFLT17. You rock!

  2. Muchas gracias Carrie! You are the best. I so appreciate how generosity you share all your awesome practices and goods. So glad I got to see you at iFLT. Feeling inspired! Susan

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