Alexa. Play Despacito. Not because we're sad, but because we want to learn Spanish! If you picked up even a couple of words of this song that invaded our lives and just won't quit it, you'll know music is an effective way to help you learn a language. Whether you want to or not. So why not give it a go? Here are some tips for using music to help you learn Spanish.
Youtube is a really effective tool for learning a language with music. Just type in best songs in Spanish and you'll have yourself a playlist. For example, you will possibly not have heard Calma by Pedro Capó and Farruko, but this song is guaranteed to get in your head — and if you like beaches and beach scenes, well, you'll enjoy the video too!
So how can you help yourself learn like this? Well, for one, you'll have songs in Spanish that you can practice with by learning the lyrics to, and for two, just scroll through the comments for some additional Spanish practice. If you're feeling extra brave, add your own comment too — in Spanish, of course.
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Listening to music is the perfect way to mimic how Spanish should sound. It's the best real example you will hear, and the best way to repeat sounds until you've got them right. Repeat the hook and chorus of a song a few times over, like Danny Ocean's Swing, and you'll be saying all the words just how they are supposed to be heard.
And if you are struggling with a particular pronunciation, listening to a range of Spanish music will help you pick up the nuances and cadences to help you get the words out right.
Grammar and pronunciation
Is there a grammar point that is tripping you up, that no matter what you try you can't get your head around? Listen to some Spanish music and see how it helps you! Especially with things like tenses; try Culpables by Karol G and Anuel AA, which switches between past and present tenses. This is a great way to see how it's done!
Similarly, using this song you can pick up some vocabulary you might not hear in a formal lesson — like betrayal and unfaithful — traicione and infiel, respectively. You'll even see how words can be used in different ways. Take yo me enredé en tu piel — for which you can translate enredé directly so this means I got entangled in your skin — but you'll recognise colloquially from other songs as also meaning lost in this context.
Memorizing through repetition
Much like listening to music on repeat to get pronunciation right, hearing a song over and over is going to get those lyrics in your memory with very little effort from you. Think about how easy it is to find yourself humming along to a song you hear on the radio in someone's car when they give you a lift, or waiting in the queue to pay for something in a clothes store. Take Sebastián Yatra, Mau and Ricky for example, and their song Ya No Tiene Novio. Are you telling us that this chorus isn't already wedged in your thoughts after just one listen?
Mood and motivation
So perhaps you have a test to prepare for, and no amount of Spanish revision seems to be making sense. Why not put on your newly-acquired Spanish playlist in the background as you try to work? Instead of worrying about what you don't remember from your notes, why not overhear some lyrics and realise what you already remember off by heart?
This is a form of immersive learning; how many times have you studied or worked but been singing along to whatever music you have on in the background as well? What if some Spanish lyrics are the very words to put an association to, between the subject you're supposed to be revising and what you've just heard? And if all else fails, a few minutes break to listen to Maluma's HP might be all the encouragement you need to get back to work!
Music is one of the most flexible, under-appreciated methods of learning a new language, whatever language you are trying to learn. Why not give it a go?