A Quick Guide to Learning Spanish through Songs and Music
We’ve all been there.
Sitting painfully through traditional Spanish language classes.
Desperately trying to memorize vocabulary.
Thankfully there are less conventional and more fun ways to learn Spanish.
And of course, by learning Spanish through songs.
We all get songs stuck in our heads – so put that to good use and use it as a learning tool to improve your language skills!
Why Learn Spanish Through Songs and Music?
Songs get stuck in our heads because of our brains. Music activates the auditory cortex part of our brains, and when we do not know the entire song our brains fill in the missing gaps in the rhythm and repeat it over and over. Scientists call this phenomenon a cognitive itch or a brain itch, and by repeating a tune in your head you are scratching the itch.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), our brains sometimes act like stuck iPods, unable to shuffle past the song they are stuck on to move onto something else we would rather listen to!
Scientists and researchers all around the world have different names for songs getting stuck in our heads and different theories for why this happens. Marketing agencies and commercials are constantly coming up with new jingles and tunes to make their product memorable to you by creating a sound or piece of music that will get stuck in your head, and often times it works very well!
We can use these same ideas to help learn a new language: If your brain can remember the music from a commercial or the theme song from a popular show on television, it will also remember a song or chorus line that you have heard even if it is in a different language.
Why Are Songs Helpful for Learning Spanish?
Learning a new language is hard – oftentimes sitting in a classroom is boring, learning from a textbook feels like work, and there is not much interaction with the real Spanish language and culture.
By learning Spanish through songs your brain makes the connection between the music you are listening to and the words and language concepts you are trying to learn.
Music allows you an insight into the Spanish culture that cannot be learned from a book. You get to learn what people are singing about and therefore learn more about the culture, opinions, and activities of Spanish speakers. In addition, listening to music is fun! Singing along to Spanish music not only increases your vocabulary and knowledge of popular Spanish culture, but will allow you to even out your accent and grow acquainted with local slang.
7 Tips for Learning Spanish through Songs and Music
As mentioned above, we get songs stuck in our head all the time. If you listen to something long enough you will begin to recognize the beat, beginning notes and lyrics of the song. With repetition you will soon find yourself singing along almost without trying! However, in order to learn Spanish effectively, there are some tips and tricks to utilizing songs and music to your language-learning benefit.
Choose songs with clear pronunciation: If you find a song has lyrics that blend together or are hard to understand, consider picking a different song or reading the lyrics while you listen. For beginners, choosing simple songs with clear lyrics, choruses and verses will assist you in learning Spanish much better than more complicated songs.
Catchy beat: If the beat and rhythm does not catch your fancy when you listen to it, you probably will not want it stuck in your head. Songs that make you tap your foot and bob your head are the best!
Repeating chorus/verses: The best songs to learn Spanish are ones that have repeating phrases in the chorus or verses that contain the same lyrics. If you can recognize and remember the lyrics you will be able to sing it in your head with more accuracy!
A familiar song dubbed in Spanish: Learning completely new songs in Spanish can be difficult, so sometimes it is more than acceptable to take a familiar English song and find a Spanish version of it. You can do this for theme songs, your favorite songs, or listen to familiar artists who also sing in Spanish (like Shakira or Enrique Iglesias).
Regional Spanish music: Pick songs sung by artists from the Spanish region of the world whose dialect you are learning. Dialects across the Spanish-speaking world differ and can use different slang, so make it easy on yourself at least at the beginning!
Look up unknown words: It’s also helpful to look up words that you’re not familiar with, and to write them down and periodically review them