How to Learn Spanish through Music in Middle and High School
Do you want a guaranteed way to learn Spanish while enjoying yourself completely? It’s through music! Ten long years ago, I started learning Spanish from scratch and my constant companions were clear and catchy Spanish songs. I spent at least an hour daily listening to my favorite songs, hoping to get them to stick in my head (they always did). This method has worked wonders for me in French, as well, where I spent thousands of hours of my teenage years listening to French pop, polishing my accent, and increasing my fluency.
While you’re not here to learn French, you will be happy to know that this trick works for any language! With regular auditory exposure to Spanish music such as the songs I share below, you will build your vocabulary, practice your accent, learn some useful phrases, and pick up a thing or two about the cultures that produced them. So, grab your favorite headphones, curl up in a comfy spot, and let’s get to listening. ¡Escuchemos música!
10 Songs to Study to Learn Spanish
To make the most of out of each song here (and others you may add to your playlist), be sure to study them one by one. Start with one song and listen to it while you read the lyrics. Jot down some words or phrases that are confusing to you. Use a dictionary to translate the meaning and create a picture of what’s happening in the song. And most importantly—sing along! By singing the songs, you get all the benefits of becoming more familiar with Spanish, like an increase in your pace of speech, refined pronunciation, and a boost in fluency.
How does this work? Each song has a Youtube link to follow. Start listening while you come back to this blog post and try to hear the lyrics in bold. The verbs, words, and phrases precede the lyric and give you a chance to use them on your own. Let’s get to it!
Julieta Venegas, from Mexico
Song: “Limón y Sal”
Album: Limón y Sal
Tener que – to have to (tengo que confesar = I have to confess)
Desaparecer – to disappear (tu me desapareces = you disappear on me)
Ponerse – to become/get (te pones de un humor extraño = you get in a weird mood)
Volver a + verb – again (vuelvo a empezar = I start again)
tal y como – just/such as (yo te quiero tal y como estás = I love/want you just as you are)
hacer falta – to lack/to be necessary (no hace falta cambiarte nada = there is no need to change anything about you)
Learn Spanish with music
Los Amigos Invisibles, from Venezuela
Una mentira – a lie (esas son puras mentiras = those are pure lies)
Andar – to walk/hang around (esa noche yo no andaba allí = that night I wasn’t hanging around there)
Contar – to tell (te cuentan que me vieron paseando en la ciudad = they tell you that they saw me taking a walk in the city)
Portarse – to behave (cuando no estás conmigo, yo me porto bien = when you’re not with me, I behave well)
Contento – happy, distraido – distracted (yo estaba muy contento y como distraido = I was really happy and as distracted)
Learn Spanish with music
Ricardo Arjona featuring Gaby Moreno, both from Guatemala
Song: “Fuiste Tu”
Album: Independiente + demos
Ser – to be (Fuiste tú = it was you)
la melancolía – melancholy (Lo tuyo fue la intermitencia y la melancolía = yours was intermittence and melancholy)
un chantaje – blackmail (Jamás te dije una mentira o te inventé un chantaje = I never told you a lie or blackmailed you)
el motor de arranque – the starter motor (cuando los besos fueron el motor de arranque que encendió la luz = when the kisses were the starter that ignited the light)
disfrazarse – to disguise/dress up (Así se disfraza el amor para su conveniencia = that’s how love is disguised for convenience)
Juanes, from Colombia
Song: “La camisa negra”
Album: Mi Sangre
De luto – in mourning (hoy mi amor está de luto = today my love is in mourning)
Herir – to hurt/wound (Y eso es lo que más me hiere = and that’s what hurts me most)
Quedarse – to stay/to be left (mal parece que solo me quedé = it seems bad that I was left alone)
Con disimulo – surreptitiously/furtively (Te digo con disimulo = I tell you furtively)
Amargo – bitter (Respiré de ese humo amargo de tu adiós = I breathed the bitter smoke of your good-bye)
Mostrar – to show (Ni siquiera muestras señas = you don’t even show signs)
Bomba Estereo, from Colombia
Song: “Somos dos”
Llenar – to fill up (tus ojos me están llenando solo con verlos = your eyes are filling me up just by seeing them)
Abrazarte – to hug you (no necesito si no abrazarte para sentirlo = I need only to hug you to feel it)
Emoción – feeling/excitement (que emoción = how exciting)
Ser parte de – to be a part of (ser parte de tu sonrisa y de tu alegría = to be a part of your smile and your happiness)
Callarse – to hush/be quiet (cuando el silencio se calle la boca y no pide perdón = when silence hushes the mouth and doesn’t ask for forgiveness)
Mientras – while, meanwhile (mientras los mundos se juntan = while the worlds come closer together)
Axel, from Argentina
Song: “Te Voy a Amar”
Album: Un Nuevo Sol
Poco – little/not much (Es poco decir = it’s not enough to say)
Alcanzar – to reach/catch (no me alcanzan las palabras = I can’t find the words)
Volverse – to become (Lo blanco y negro se vuelve color = black and white become color)
Medir – to measure (Porque me das tu amor sin medir = because you give your love without measure)
Junto – (quiero vivir la vida entera junto a ti = I want to live my whole life next to you)
Alex Ubago, from Spain
Song: “Mil Horas”
Preguntarse – to wonder (Yo me pregunto para qué sirven las guerras = I wonder what wars are for)
Alrededor – around (como la nieve a mi alrededor = like the snow all around me)
Hace (impersonal verb) – it has been (hace tiempo que estoy sentado sobre esta piedra = it’s been awhile that I’ve been sitting on this rock)
Esperar – to wait (La otra noche te esperé bajo la lluvia dos horas = the other night I waited for you in the rain for two hours)
Malu Trevejo, from Cuba
Song: “Una Vez Más”
Una vez – one time (una vez más = one more time)
Seguir – to follow (Que si tú te vas al cielo te sigo = if you go to heaven, I’ll follow you)
Alejarse – to go away (Quieres que me aleje = you want me to go away)
Cualquiera – ordinary/any (Sé que no soy cualquiera = I know I’m not ordinary)
Decir – to say (El corazón dirá más = the heart will say more)
Venir – to come (Dime que por mí vendrás = tell me you will come for me)
CNCO, boy band formed from the show La Banda
Song: “De Cero”
Album: Que Quiénes Somos
Sufrir – to suffer (dicen que estás sufriendo = they say you are suffering)
Entregarse – to surrender (Sin mente yo me entregaré = without thinking, I will surrender)
Empezar – to start (de cero empezamos = we start from zero)
Dejar – to leave/abandon/forget (Mejor dejamos la estupidez = we better leave behind the nonsense)
El tuyo – yours (Yo soy lo tuyo y tu eres la mia = I’m yours and you’re mine)
Un regalo – gift (La vida es corta y tu eres un regalo = life is short and you’re a gift)
Jesse y Joy, brother and sister duo from Mexico
Descifrar – to decipher/to figure out (Tú dices que soy imposible de descifrar = you say that I’m impossible to figure out)
Tanto – so much (Te amo tanto = I love you so much)
Tonta/tonto – silly (Tanto que me siento tonta = so much that I feel silly)
Sumar – to add (Cuenta todas las estrellas y súmale una más = count all the stars and add one more)
Soler – to tend to (me suele incomodar = it tends to make me uncomfortable)
Bulk Up Your Playlist
Seeking out more songs is so much fun. Once you finish absorbing the material from the 10 songs above, you can start adding your own! Here is a set of criteria to use while searching for the most effective songs for you to learn Spanish:
- Clarity – Make sure that endings of words and complete syllables aren’t chopped off, that the pronunciation of words is as accurate as possible and that the speed is understandable.
- Simple – Choose songs with fairly easy lyrics that don’t complicate the message.
- Catchy – Find songs you like! With a nice beat and fun rhythm, the lyrics you’re learning are more likely to stick in your head.
- Repetition – Gravitate toward songs with plenty of repetitive parts that encourage you to practice over and over.
Practice with a Native Speaker
After you spend some time learning new words and phrases, you will feel really motivated to use them in speech. Sign up for a free online class with a native Spanish-speaking teacher from Guatemala, and let them know all about your favorite Spanish songs!
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