Well, well, well… Look who’s trying to learn some Spanish without the help of a book!
I salute you, my friend!
If you are reading this, you are probably looking for a fun, different way to learn Spanish.
Each learner has their own tricks to make the learning process easier. Incorporating music into language studies is definitely one of these tricks. And it is effective, too!
Learning Spanish with music is an activity that allows you to improve your grammar, boost your vocabulary and refine your reading comprehension, listening skills and pronunciation skills all at once.
Magic? Not really.
You will not become fluent in Spanish after listening to one song once, but practice makes perfect, and anything you add to your language-learning routine will only get you closer to your goal.
But why is music such a great tool when learning a new language, and how can it help you?
Let’s have a look.
Why Should You Learn Spanish with Music?
There are dozens of very good reasons to learn Spanish with the help of music.
Each learner will feel music can help them differently, but there are some reasons that seem to be common to almost all of them:
It makes studying fun
Whether you are a beginner in your first foreign language or you are a seasoned polyglot, boredom is without a doubt your worst enemy when it comes to studying. When you add music to your routine, your learning process gets a fun twist that will surely allow you to not only enjoy it more thoroughly but also absorb knowledge faster.
It gets stuck in your head
Some of us have a really hard time memorizing lists of words and complicated grammar rules. They say our brains are like sponges that absorb everything. Well… not mine! I find music in general and analyzing the lyrics of songs to be great for learning new stuff in the languages I study.
After you have listened to a song some 10 or 12 times, some parts of it get stuck in your head, especially if you have been reading the lyrics while listening to it.
And if there is something The Trashmen have taught us is that once a song gets stuck in our heads, it is very, very difficult to get rid of it. You will learn new words and expressions without even wanting to. Thank you, music!
You can take it with you everywhere
Tired of carrying language books around? Use songs, instead!
It is almost impossible to find a phone nowadays that does not allow you to listen to your favorite music. Just press play and start learning, whether you are on the bus on your way to school, going back home from work or just having an orange juice in your backyard.
We all know that the more often we practice a new language, the faster the learning process is, so download the songs from this list into your mobile phone and get ready to learn anywhere!
It helps you learn vocabulary and pronunciation
The more Spanish songs you listen to, the more new words you will get to learn. Granted, not every word you will hear will be necessary, but remember: Music is made for the masses, so strange, untranslatable Spanish terms are not likely to appear very often.
In addition to improving your vocabulary, you can be sure your pronunciation skills are going to skyrocket in no time. See, everybody sings in English. It is a trend that is happening more and more often because singers from all around the world want to reach the biggest audience possible.
Spanish, on the other hand, is mainly used by native speakers in music, so the majority of Spanish songs you will get in contact with will be sung by singers whose mother language is Spanish. Listen to them carefully and you will have the best Spanish pronunciation teachers available 24/7!
You can choose your “textbooks”
No, we are not talking about real textbooks here, we are talking about artists and songs. There are practically infinite possibilities regarding what you can learn if you choose to do it with the help of music. Pick up your favorite genres, songs with topics that interest you, singers whose voices you love or just random Spanish alternative groups if you are feeling brave. The only limit is your imagination!
At the end of the day, learning Spanish should be an enjoyable activity that makes you feel happy, comfortable and proud of yourself, so choose the kind of music that speaks to you, and use the lyrics of the songs as your own personal textbooks.
Your karaoke skills will go through the roof
This is just an added bonus, but imagine how surprised your friends will be if you learn a Spanish song by heart and sing it perfectly during a karaoke night!
Besides, when singing, you will be practicing your speaking skills. Make sure to imitate the singer’s vocals and pronunciation as faithfully as possible. People who do not know you will probably think you are indeed a Spanish native speaker!
As you can see, adding music to your language process has some excellent advantages.
This post contains 10 songs that will help you get started and will make you enjoy learning Spanish in a way you may not have experienced before.
But you may be wondering, especially if this is your first time, how to make the most out of your musical learning experience. Wonder no more!
I have made a list of the seven main steps you can follow in order to absorb all the juice any song can offer you in the shortest amount of time. Follow the steps in order, and you will be singing “Despacito” in Spanish in the blink of an eye!
How to Learn Spanish with Music
The following seven steps are just a proposal. You can tackle a new song any way you want as long as the final result is satisfactory for you.
This is the way I personally use songs in order to learn new languages. It works for me. Give it try and see for yourself!
Step 1: Choose a song
Duh! Wow, such a groundbreaking step!
I know, I know… Not very original. But the songs you choose to learn with are important. Go for short simple songs at the beginning of your journey and switch to longer, faster, more complicated ones when you feel comfortable enough.
Step 2: Listen to your selected song
Once you have chosen your song, listen to it several times. These first few times, you are just supposed to get familiar with it and try to guess what the singer might be singing (if you do not know yet).
During the last couple of times you listen to the song, try to write down any words you recognize or think you may know.
Step 3: Use the lyrics
Your next step is to print the lyrics of the song. It is during this stage that you will be able to see what is being sung.
With the lyrics in front of you and before doing any research/dictionary work, listen to the song a couple more times while reading the lyrics. Do not care too much about meaning yet. You are just learning how to pronounce words while practicing your listening and reading skills.
Step 4: Look up words
Now is the time for you to read the lyrics carefully and underline any word or expression you do not know.
Depending on your level of Spanish, finding the meaning of all the underlined terms can take you from a few minutes to around an hour, but this will be time well spent. You will get to have a closer look at stuff that was hidden before you understood the song. And, since at this point you most likely know a huge chunk of the song by heart, the memorization process will be really short.
Once you have worked out the meaning of the song, you can have a look at some lyrics website where people ask for and translate lyrics into different languages. It is pretty easy to find a translation into English, so go ahead and read it so that you fully grasp the meaning.
After this, you can look for grammar patterns and language tidbits, and review (or learn if it is a new topic for you) the grammar behind the song. Congratulations! You have fully mastered a song in Spanish.
Step 5: Sing along
Now that you know everything about the song, you can go back to listening to it as many times as you want while singing along. You will be practicing your pronunciation once again but additionally, you will be aware of what you are singing and understand the song on a whole new level.
Step 6: Memorize
If you repeat step five enough times, step six will only take you a few minutes. Your goal now is to memorize as many words as possible until, ideally, you are able to sing the whole song by heart.
At this point, you have all the knowledge you need in order to understand the lyrics and the grammar behind the song and to pronounce the words like a native speaker would. The only thing left now is to fully enjoy the song!
Step 7: Become Beyoncé (or [insert your favorite singer’s name here])
This last step is not compulsory, but I really recommend you put it into practice. Boast as much as you can about the song(s) you have just learned. Tell your friends about it, quote it, sing it mercilessly at any party you go to… Make the most out of it and use what you have memorized as much as you can!
These seven steps are pretty easy to follow and will make each song its own little language lesson wrapped up in a catchy tune. But there is even better news: There is a program that takes all seven steps and bundles them up for you so that all you have to do is learn: FluentU!
Take any song from FluentU’s database of hundreds of authentic videos, and the program will supply the rest.
You will have a full transcript of the video (that is, the lyrics!), a list of potential trouble words you can study before or after you listen to the song a few times and even a follow-up quiz to check how well you understood the song.
As you are watching, you can use the interactive Spanish-English subtitles (which you can turn on and off at the click of a button) and check the meaning of any word without even having to leave the song.
It is like a bundled music lesson prepared and personalized for you!
Best of all, you can use FluentU in your browser or take your learning on the go with the FluentU app for iOS or Android.
But enough with the instructions and steps. Let’s get some practice!
In the following paragraphs, you will find 10 awesome songs sung in Spanish. I have tried to infuse the list with a little bit of variety, but remember that these are just examples. When you finish my songs, you will be ready to go one step further and make a list with your own jams!
For each song, I have included a video and a link to where you can print the lyrics. I have also included information about the English translation of the songs.
Each song includes a short description that will help you to pay attention to the main grammar or vocabulary topics it can teach you. Most of the topics have also been linked so you can take a look and review/learn them. Feel free to look for additional resources if you need them and try to find grammar topics I may have missed or did not mention!
Shake it up, guys!
Learn Spanish With Music: 10 Love Songs to Shake Up Your Studies
Track 1: “Hijo de la luna” (Son of the Moon) by Mecano
There are many different theories about the meaning of this sad but beautiful song. A lot of gypsy beliefs and folklore can be seen in the lyrics, while the music evokes Spanish flamenco with a tinge of pessimism, completely in line with the main theme of the song.
Love, passion, infidelity and death are talked about in the form of a story, from beginning to end. The very second line says “cuenta una leyenda” (“legend has it”), which favors the use of the preterite throughout a great part of the song.
Apart from choosing this song to practice the Spanish past tenses, you may also use it to get acquainted with or review the Spanish subjunctive, although it only appears at the beginning (no entienda — does not understand) and near the end of the song (esté — he is).
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (Out of all the translations available, I find the third one to be the best one by far.)
Track 2: “Sin ti no soy nada” (I Am Nothing Without You) by Amaral
We remain in Spain in order to listen to one of Amaral’s most famous songs, “Sin ti no soy nada,” another sad song that tells the story of a man who has lost his woman and cannot enjoy life anymore.
This song is perfect for learning the Spanish verbs ser and estar (both meaning to be) together with their uses and differences. When you read the lyrics, you will see that the verb ser is scattered all over the song.
The title includes the adverb no, which is used several times throughout the song. Take this as the starting point for learning about the amazing universe of Spanish negation.
Finally, pay special attention to the phrase “qué no daría yo” (I would give everything, lit. “what wouldn’t I give”). This Spanish phrase is used very often, so make sure to add it to your list of “expressions native speakers say.” And while you are at it, learn more about the verb form daría and its tense, the Spanish conditional.
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (I recommend translation two.)
Track 3: “Despacito” (Slowly) by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee
“Despacito” must be one of the most worldwide famous songs of the last decades. Its sensual rhythm depicts perfectly Latinos’ hot blood and love for dancing, while the lyrics have a man uttering his desire for his woman.
There is a lot to learn about the Spanish language if you take a closer look at the lyrics. The best example is the use of diminutives and augmentatives in Spanish. The very title, “Despacito” (lit. “Little Slowly”), is an adverb in its diminutive form. Can you find other examples of diminutives in the song?
Another interesting thing you can learn from this song is the use of direct and indirect pronouns. There are a lot of examples in the lyrics, some of them attached to a gerundio (mirándote — looking at you), some to the imperative (muéstrame — show me), and some in front of verbs (te diga — tell you).
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (Translation number one is great.)
Track 4: “Devuélveme la vida” (Give Me Back My Life) by Antonio Orozco and Malú
This is another sad but beautiful song that is perfect for beginners because of its easy vocabulary and slow tempo.
The song shows someone asking for forgiveness. The other person has gone and taken the lover’s heart with them, leaving them lifeless. The only way to come back to life seems to be to get back together again, but we never get to know if this happens.
This song is perfect for practicing the future tense, which can be found in the second verse.
Another interesting topic you can tackle with this song is the use of accent marks in Spanish. There are a lot of words with tilde (accent mark) in the lyrics. Can you explain why they have it?
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation
Track 5: “Amiga mía” (My Friend) by Alejandro Sanz
Alejandro Sanz is one of the most famous international Spanish singers of all time.
In this song, the singer tells their female friend that she is important to them, so they feel the need to tell her that she deserves a better man than the one she is love with. If you ask me, the first-person voice in the song is in love with this woman but does not know how to tell her… But that is certainly open to interpretation.
Alejandro is known for his virtuosity in the use of language, his metaphors and plays on words, so this song is recommended more for intermediate and advanced learners.
However, if you feel brave, you can use it to learn about the Spanish possessive adjectives and pronouns and how to use them.
You can also use this song to learn about the different meanings of que (that) and other relative pronouns, as well as qué (what) vs. cuál (which) and other interrogative pronouns.
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (The fifth translation is excellent.)
Track 6: “El patio” (The Backyard) by Pablo López
I confess I have added this song here because it is my favorite Spanish song. Pablo López’s voice is great in every song he sings, but this one holds a special place in my heart. In this song, Pablo tells his girl that he does not want to play anymore and she has to leave.
The song is an allegory from beginning to end. The singer feels that his partner is treating him like a little child and he has had enough, so he uses playground and child vocabulary to tell her to go away and confess he does not love her anymore. Here are just some of the child-related phrases you will find in this song:
tú no eres mi amiga — you are not my friend
el patio — the backyard
yo sigo jugando — I keep on playing
siempre me castigan — I always get grounded
This song is perfect for reviewing the Spanish subjunctive (especially present in the pre-chorus) and Spanish negation (ya no queda nada — there is nothing [no feeling] left).
You can also use this song as an excuse to learn about Spanish verbal periphrases, a great example of which is the already mentioned yo sigo jugando.
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (Version one is great.)
Track 7: “Si no te hubiera conocido” (If I Had Not Known You) by Christina Aguilera and Luis Fonsi
This is a powerful ballad where two lovebirds profess their love for each other (by now you may have already guessed my love for Fonsi).
This song is the one I use with my Spanish students to teach them the Spanish conditionals. Who doesn’t want to learn the third conditional with Fonsi and Aguilera?
But there is more to it! This song is also perfect for reviewing all the Spanish past tenses. It tells the story of two people from the moment they meet, so it is full of past references.
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (The first translation is more or less bilingual but it is a little bit messy, so I recommend using the second version, instead.)
Track 8: “El perdedor” (The Loser) by Maluma
Here is another lost love song in which Maluma sings to his ex that he misses her and wishes for her to come back.
There are a lot of interesting things you can learn from this song. Start with pa’ (short form of para — for), and take the opportunity to learn some Spanish slang and the difference between por and para.
Continue with vos (you), which is used in South American Spanish. Learn how and when to use it, and how it differs from tú.
Finally, use these lines to learn about the Spanish imperfect tense:
“Cuando tomábamos lo hacíamos, nos filmábamos y veíamos
Éramos dos locos sin saber pa’ dónde íbamos.”
(When we used to drink we smashed, we filmed it and we watched it
We were two crazy people not knowing where we were going.)
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation
Track 9: “La incondicional” (The Unconditional) by Luis Miguel
A classic among classics, “La incondicional” is one of Luis Miguel’s most powerful songs.
It tells the story of a man who has an intimate relationship with a woman but is incapable of feeling love. He says there is no kind of feeling between them, but they keep on meeting and meeting… Spoiler alert, Luis Miguel: that is love…
There are many instances of definite and indefinite articles in the lyrics of this song. Use it to learn more about them.
Another topic you can discover or review with the help of this song is the meaning of por qué (why) and how it differs from its siblings porque (because), porqué (the reason) and por que (for which).
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation (The best translation is the second one.)
Track 10: “Un millón de cicatrices” (A Million Scars) by El canto del loco
El canto del loco can be translated as “the song/singing of the madman.” They were indeed a little bit crazy when they started singing, but they have proven they are talented and deserve a place in the Spanish-speaking world of music.
The song “Un milón de cicatrices” tells the story of a guy who is afraid of love and is hurting himself psychologically because of this. He has provoked a million scars to his soul and the trauma keeps on running deep… He has probably been so hurt in the past that he is now unable to fall in love.
However, in the second verse, he realizes that his heart is slowly coming back to life, and he is happy to see that he is able to feel love again, even if slightly.
This song is a great way to learn a little bit more about Spanish prepositions, which are scattered all over the lyrics.
It is also a good song to review the use of the verb gustar (to like) and its friends and learn how to use them like a pro.
Finally, pay attention to the words tan (very) and más (more) in the lyrics. These are examples of the use of Spanish comparisons and now is the moment for you to have a look at them.
Get the lyrics:
Spanish lyrics | English translation
If you have gone through these 10 songs, you can be proud of yourself.
You have learned and reviewed a lot of Spanish grammar in just 10 songs. Imagine what you could do if you continue to learn Spanish with music!
Now that you know how to do it, make a list of Spanish artists you like and repeat the learning steps with their songs. You will see your Spanish improving in no time.
Keep dancing, my friends, and as always, happy learning.
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