You really want to improve your fluency in Spanish. You would like to understand conversations better and to be able to speak in a more natural way. You want all this, but sometimes you think to yourself “do I really need to memorize words and conjugations like a parrot to get there? REALLY?” This is the side you don’t like so much about learning a language. And I fully understand.
I understand that you really would love to improve your Spanish while having fun and enjoying along the way. Discovering the Spanish language and culture gives you that energy. Studying and memorizing list of words do not have the same impact. And if you know me a little by now…, if you read my blog, you will know then that this is exactly what I want for you.
This could shock you a bit. Listen carefully. Stop studying Spanish! Stop memorizing words and studying verb conjugations by head. You might need to check a conjugation once in a while or the meaning of a word, but do not… I repeat, do not STUDY grammar or words by head. This really doesn’t have much sense now.
You have the basis and can understand a text or an audio pretty good. So, this is not the time to keep on memorizing grammar. This is the time to USE what you know and keep on using the new stuff you read or hear everyday. Do not study Spanish, USE IT!
Another great way
“Ok, so how do I do that?” Well, there is not only one way of doing that. Today I want to let you know how you can improve your understanding and your fluency by listening to music! Yeah, you read it right! Not any song would do the “job” but listening to Spanish songs can always help you to understand better our culture, to remember when and which grammar to use and sometimes (not always) the right sounds and intonation.
But, if you really want to improve and learn by doing (what could be better than that?), then you should take a look at some specific songs.
Listening to Spanish music is a great way of breaking with your routine. You get new energy and you are ready to learn! With the help of some songs you will learn to use specific structures and words. And you will remember them more easily than if you just memorize them.
Singing a song will help you with one of the most difficult parts of learning a language: knowing when to use a specific structure. And let me tell you, this is really important, even more than a correct conjugation. It would be such a pity if you are very good at conjugating the verbs but you don’t always know when to use them, don’t you think?
The good news is that there are Spanish songs for any structure you could think of. And, NO, I’m not talking about songs like “Despacito”. This is apparently the favorite Spanish music genre at this moment, but sure not mine. These “Latin” songs are ok, they are danceable and could make your day. But I prefer to let you know we also have (had) other kind of music in Spain.
Although the flamenco music is very present in Spain, there is so much more. Maybe it is my age talking here, but in the 80-90’s there were many good Spanish bands and I have the impression that this is different nowadays. Yeah, probably the age talking…
Anyway, I hope you can enjoy them like I do. And that you learn a lot from them.
How to work with songs?
Follow these steps if you want to “squeeze” a song really good:
- First of all, show some interest for the band. Check who they are, what kind of music they usually play, look for pictures, if they are still active (maybe you like them so much you want to see them life!).
- Check the title of the song, does it say anything to you? Maybe it helps you to understand the song better.
- Listen ONCE to the whole song and try to understand what it is about. The title and the refrain will help a lot. Sometimes the tone will also give a hint. Do you have it? Great!
- Listen once or twice more till you understand a lot. You get the main ideas.
- Now it is time to have a look on some specific structures and words. You will understand many of them with the help of the context. Check the speed or the accent of the singer. These factors could play a role here. Try to use songs that are easier to understand.
- There will probably be a few words or sentences more difficult to understand. Try listening again and focusing on them.
- Once you did all that, you should understand almost everything. This is the perfect time to check the lyrics and to listen again while reading the text.
- Do you have it? GREAT! Now, this is my favourite moment, singing! Sing out loud, in the shower, in your car, sing and enjoy the moment. Now you have probably learn some new structure and words and you know when to use them the next time. By singing out loud you gain confidence, you start believing in yourself!
This deserves a celebration, right?
Ok, show me what you mean!
At this point, I guess you would appreciate some examples. Well, here I bring you some of my favourite songs to learn specific structures you will need in any conversation with Spanish people.
- PONGAMOS QUE HABLO DE MADRID (Antonio Flores). Have you ever lived in Madrid or any big city? Then you will probably agree with the description he makes. Written by the great Joaquín Sabina, this one is the version that became a sort of hymn for this fantastic city. The title is just great: we use here the verb “poner” als “suponer”. Read the lyrics.
- ME COLÉ EN UNA FIESTA (Mecano). Do you remember Mecano? This was really the number one band back in the 80s and 90s in Spain. Great songs! Listen to this one here to practice and remember the past tense (pretérito indefinido: me colé, me planté, vio, se acercó…). Sing along and enjoy! Read the lyrics.
- UN BUEN DÍA (Los Planetas). Not my favourite style, but this one is very useful to practice how to tell someone what you have been doing recently (today, this morning…). We can use the immediate past tense (pretérito perfecto: me he levantado, ha salido…) and talk about actions that took place not so long ago. Read the lyrics.
- MARTA, SEBAS, GUILLE Y LOS DEMÁS (Amaral). If you need to make sure when to use one past tense and when the other, check this beautiful song! You will also find the future tense. I love the sentence “ya no tendrás que soportar al imbécil de tu jefe ni un minuto más”. You may need to shout that part out loud some day! 😉 Read the lyrics.
- Y NOS DIERON LAS 10 (Joaquín Sabina). If you don’t know Sabina, you should. He is one of the best (if not the best one) singer-songwriters from Spain. With this song he tells the story of a very special night when he fell in love with a woman that he never forgot. Very useful to remember many different tenses, specially the past (indefinido and imperfecto), but also the subjunctive (que me dejes abierto el balcón, que volvamos a vernos). Read the lyrics.
This is just a small sample of what you can do by listening to Spanish music.
My little guide.
Sorry I don’t I include any of the most international Spanish songs like the Macarena, Aserejé, Despacito…
Spanish music is so much more than that.
There are so many better songs to learn from.
So, please combine sometimes your everyday practice of Spanish with some music. I’m sure this will only encourage you more to reach your goal.
You can and you will understand spoken Spanish better.
You can and you will speak more naturally.
Listen to them, understand, work with them, listen again, enjoy… and SING!!
Let me know which one you liked the most and which one was the most useful for you.