11 Spanish songs to improve your fluency

11 Spanish songs to improve your fluency

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.

 

      • BAILANDO (Alaska y Los Pegamoides). I love Alaska! This is a disco song from the early 80’s. You will learn how to use the gerund and the names of some body parts while you dance. Let’s party! 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.

 

      • CIEN GAVIOTAS (Duncan Dhu). One of the songs of my early youth. Great if you find some trouble when using the future tense (hoy podrás beber y lamentar que ya no volverán). Read the lyrics.

 

      • NO ME CREES (Efecto Mariposa). Beautiful song that will help you to remember where to place the personal pronouns in negative sentences (si no te veo) with an infinitive (volverte a ver) or with a preposition (no sé de ti, piensas en ). 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.

 

      • CAROLINA (M-Clan). Do you need to ask anyone for anything? Then you need to listen to this and practice the imperative form to give orders or advice. Remember: we use the subjunctive for the negative form of the imperative (no te rías de mí, no me arranques la piel). 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.

 

      • A DIOS LE PIDO (Juanes). Listen to this nice song and you will never forget the use of the subjunctive when you want to express a desire! (que mi madre no se muera y que mi padre me recuerde). Read the lyrics.

 

      • PARA TODA LA VIDA (EL Sueño de Morfeo). Obviously for higher levels. Do you need to practice the conditional sentences? This is your song! (“Si fueras una luz en el cielo, dejarías en el paro al sol). 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.

43 expressions Spanish people use all the time

43 expressions Spanish people use all the time

Yes, today I’m writing in English. Let’s say I’m experimenting a bit. I want to help as many people as possible with my posts. Just giving it a try.

 

When you speak Spanish with anyone, your teacher, a friend, your aunt who lives in Spain… You feel sometimes shy, hesitant and rigid and that’s how you sound in Spanish too… but you are not like that! I know this can be frustrating. You really can’t wait to feel like yourself, also in Spanish.

 

This is what fluency means to me.

This is my personal perception.

I’m telling you, the moment you get there it’s fantastic! It’s liberating!

 

After one year living in Flanders I could understand pretty much of what anyone would say in Dutch (let’s not go further into the dialect issue right now ?). But it was only one year later, when I really needed to speak the language at work, that I realized I could also SPEAK the language! Yeah! Sometimes it happens like that. You just don’t dare making mistakes in front of friends, family or even your teacher. That’s why you don’t say everything you could or you say it on an easier but less natural way.

 

Don’t wait for the moment to come to you.

If you just wait it may never come, believe me.

If you want to be able to speak Spanish, speak!

Speak as much as you can. Make mistakes, that’s fine! Just make sure you learn from them. This is the way to get there. Only YOU can decide to start and maintain your way to fluency. Just do it! (ok, now I’m feeling quite a sport marketeer, I must say).

 

Actually, practising sports and learning languages have much more in common that you would think. Both activities help you create a better version of yourself. They both need lots of practice to reach your goals. And no, there is no way you can get there making no mistakes. They are both really enjoyable too. Reaching fluency is like winning a long desired medal. Great feeling! And this is what I want for you. So, let me help you along the way!

 

Today I’m bringing you some Spanish expressions we use all the time in Spain. To be honest, I had to think quite a while about which ones I use the most when I talk to family or friends.  Read the examples and try to say them out loud. Then check by listening to the audio files. There are many more, of course, but let’s start with these:

To express surprise

 

Normally we would say something like “¿de verdad?” or “¿en serio?” (really?)but we use others too:

 

¡No me digas! = you must be kidding! / no way!

=> El viernes hubo un accidente enorme en mi calle. ¡No me digas!, ¿qué paso?

¡Vaya tela! = damn! / wow!

=> Mañana llueve otra vez y habrá tormenta. ¡Vaya tela! ¡A ver cuándo sale el sol!

¡Anda! = oh no! / gosh!

=> Mamá, he perdido las llaves. ¡Anda! ¿Dónde ha sido, en el instituto?

¡Estoy flipando! (more often among young people) = I’m freaking out!

=> ¡Qué bien canta esa niña! ¡Estoy flipando!

Me quedo muerto/a = I’m shocked! / I’m stunned!

=> ¿Cómo? ¿Estamos en mayo y mañana va a nevar? ¡Me quedo muerta!

 

 

To express disagreement

 

We could just say “no”, but in real life we Spaniards really enjoy emphasizing anything. So, try with these:

 

¡Qué va! = no way! / not at all!

=> Venga, cuéntame, ¿viste por fin esa película de terror? Qué va, no me atreví.

¡Ni hablar! = forget it! / out of the question!

=> No seas tonta, dile lo que sientes por él. ¡Ni hablar, qué vergüenza!

¡Ni de broma! (slang: ni de coña) = no way! / you’ve got to be joking.

=> ¿Te gustaría tener otro hijo más? ¡Ni de broma! Con dos tenemos suficiente.

¡Anda ya! (= venga ya) = you don’t say!

=> Cristina me ha dicho que la han echado del trabajo. ¡Anda ya, no puede ser!

¡Ni lo sueñes! = no way!

=> Déjame conducir, no he bebido tanto. ¡Ni lo sueñes! Conduzco yo.

 

 

To express agreement

 

Same story here, but these are useful to let someone know that we think the same way as he/she does:

¡Anda que no! = hell yeah!

=> Díos mío, estos calamares están increíblemente buenos! ¡Anda que no! ¿Pedimos otra tapa?

¡Ya te digo! = you bet!

=> ¡Vaya casa que tiene tu hermano, es una mansión! Ya te digo, ojalá fuera mía.

¡Faltaría más! = don’t mention it!

=> Perdona, ¿me ayudas a llevar estas cajas? ¡Claro, faltaría más!

 

 

To express ignorance or lack of information

 

These could be a bit rude depending on your tone and who the person is you are talking to.

 

¡Yo qué sé! = I don’t know / what do I know

=> Oye, Lima es la capital de Perú, ¿verdad? Uf, yo qué sé, no me gusta nada la geografía.

Mind here a few of the fillers I talked about in one of my blog posts: https://www.leerspaansonline.com/deze-spaanse-stopwoordjes-moet-je-kennen/

 

¡(No tengo) ni (puñetera) idea! = not (have) a clue!

=> ¿A qué hora tiene Ana su vuelo? ¡No tengo ni idea! No hemos hablado de eso.

 

 

To describe someone

 

In Spain we love putting labels. These are only a few of them.

 

Tener pinta de = to have the appearance of

=> Su hijo pequeño tiene pinta de travieso.

Ser un muermo = to be a terrible bore

=> Creía que Antonio te gustaba mucho. Pues no, el pobre es un muermo, me aburro mucho con él.

Ser un/a aguafiestas = to be a spoilsport / a party pooper

=> María es una aguafiestas, cuando mejor lo estábamos pasando se tuvo que ir a casa.

Ser la alegría de la huerta (often used ironically) = to be the life and soul of the party

=> Este es el peor día de mi vida… Desde luego, eres la alegría de la huerta.

Ser un sabelotodo = to be a smartypants or smartass.

=> Con Juan no se puede hablar tranquilamente, es un sabelotodo.

Ser un dominguero = to be a Sunday tourist (also used for Sunday drivers)

=> Con tanto dominguero, no hay casi sitio en la playa.

Ser guiri = to be a foreigner

=> Tu marido parece guiri. Claro, es que es belga.

Ser un rata = to be a cheapskate

=> Rodrigo nunca paga nada, es un rata.

Ser un pesado = to be a pain

=> ¡Qué pesado es tu amigo Pablo! Siempre se está quejando.

 

 

To describe something

 

Just a few.

Ser la caña / la leche / la hostia (slang!) = to be the best, be amazing.

=> Pero bueno, ¡qué cochazo te has comprado¡ ¡Es la caña!

Estar chupado = to be easy-peasy, to be a piece of cake

=> ¡Qué horror, tengo una rueda pinchada! Yo te ayudo a cambiarla, ¡eso está chupado!

¡Qué chulo! / ¡Qué guay! = how cool / cute..!

=> Mira qué gafas de sol más monas me he comprado. ¡Qué chulas!

 

 

To talk about a consequence or sequence of actions

 

When you are telling a story and want to skip some details to reach the surprising fact.

 

Entre pitos y flautas (casi sin darme cuenta) = before I knew

=> Ayer me puse a pasear y, entre pitos y flautas, ¡recorrí 11 km!

Una cosa llevó a la otra = one thing led to another

=> Se conocieron en la fiesta de Ruth, se gustaron, una cosa llevó a la otra, y ¡este año se casan!

 

 

Some old expressions we still use everyday

 

Different expressions, different meanings, but all very useful in Spanish.

 

Al mal tiempo buena cara = to put a brave face on it / look on the bright side

=> Hola Rafa, ¿qué tal todo? Pues me he quedado sin trabajo, pero, ya sabes, al mal tiempo buena cara.

No hay mal que por bien no venga = every cloud has a silver lining

=> Tengo el coche averiado y voy en bici a todos lados. No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Costar un ojo de la cara = to cost an arm and a leg

=> Mira qué anillo lleva esa señora, ¡eso cuesta un ojo de la cara!

En el quinto pino = too far away / in the sticks

=> El bar que tú dices está en el quinto pino, ¿por qué no nos quedamos mejor por aquí cerca?

Más claro que el agua = crystal clear

=> Es evidente que está celosa de mi amiga Elena, está más claro que el agua.

Hasta las narices = fed up, sick and tired

=> Estoy hasta las narices de los atascos que me encuentro cada mañana.

 

 

To express specific actions with some special verbs

 

I really use all of them. Great expressions, don’t you think?

 

Partirse (de risa) = to crack up, to split one’s sides laughing

=> Me encantan los monólogos de Dani Rovira, me parto de risa con él.

Meter la pata = to blunder

=> Se le escapó lo de la fiesta sorpresa y metió la pata.

Tapear = eating tapas

=> No me apetece ir a un restaurante, prefiero tapear.

Pasarlo bomba (=pasarlo pipa) =  to have a ball

=> La fiesta de ayer estuvo genial. Lo pasamos bomba.

Hacerse de rogar = to make someone beg for something, to play hard to get

=> Se hizo de rogar pero al final pasó el fin de semana con nosotros.

Apuntarse a un bombardeo =  to be game for anything

=> Marta siempre tiene ganas de salir. ¡Verdad!, se apunta a un bombardeo.

Dejar a alguien en paz = to leave someone alone

=> No quiero discutir más, déjame en paz.

 

 

To say goodbye

 

Adiós y hasta luego are ok, but you also here a lot this one.

Nos vemos = see you

=> Me tengo que ir ya, hasta luego. ¡Nos vemos!

 

 

So, I hope you find all of these very useful when having a conversation in Spanish.

Listen carefully to the audios. Listen as many times as you need. And then repeat. Imitate.

If possible record your voice and listen to it afterwards to compare the sounds, the intonation, the pauses, the accents.

Which expressions do you like the most? Please let me know which other common Spanish expressions you like to use. I’d love to hear from you!