Song of the Week

Incorporating Music into your Daily Routine

Beth Hanlon, OFLA Executive Recorder and Editor of The Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School

In 2017, I attended an NEOTCI (North East Ohio Teaching with Comprehensible Input) workshop at the University of Akron.  Christy Miller presented how she uses music with her French classes.  Her presentation gave me a lot to think about in regards to how I was using music in my classroom and what I could be doing differently. 

How was I using music prior to attending this workshop?  It was very sporadic and usually related to the theme of a unit.  For example, the sports unit always called for Shakira’s “Waka Waka,” and Marc Anthony’s “El Último Beso” was great for irregular preterite verbs.  My students loved music but I felt that I needed to ensure it tied in directly to our current content and that they understood everything in the song.  I felt songs were too cumbersome to teach.

From Christy’s presentation, I gained a different perspective on using songs that would allow me to use music regularly.  Students could listen to songs in the target language to simply appreciate the music, to get them enthused about class, and to tap into one of their favorite interests…music!   

The following Monday I started the song of the week with Nicky Jam’s “Si Tú La Ves.”  My students and I were hooked.  Each Monday I showed up with a new song and it became part of our class routine…bell work, announcements, Song of the Week, the day’s lesson.  The following year, students returned in August to immediately ask when we were starting the Song of the Week again.  

Over the years, I have created and borrowed a variety of activities that students complete as they listen to the song each day.  These activities include: 

    • students reading the lyrics for words they know and/or cognates;
    • reading short artist/band biographies;
    • filling in missing words from the lyrics;
    • playing the Marker Game with words from the song;
    • putting the parts of the song in order;
    • filling out a Google Form about their opinion of the song;
    • counting how many times they hear something in the song repeated; and
    • activities and discussions about cultural aspects that appear in the song. 

I often check Teachers Pay Teachers to see if anyone has already created activities for the song.  Paying the few dollars is totally worth saving myself time!  On Fridays, we watch the music video for the song.  Some music videos lend themselves well to becoming Movie Talks, so we might spend a little more time with a certain video.  During our online learning this school year, I have been using activities that are easily done online from my list.  Overall, I am not concerned about students understanding the lyrics. I just want them to enjoy the song, develop an appreciation for Hispanic music, and listen to how Spanish sounds.

My criteria for a song include: a song I can tolerate listening to six times a day for five days; a song that I think my students will like (I don’t always get it right!); a song with a school appropriate music video and song lyrics; and a song with an artist/band/video that represent my students so they see themselves represented in the videos. I have included a list below of the songs my students have really enjoyed.

I find song suggestions in Facebook groups, recommendations from other teachers, from YouTube recommendations, from artists that I like, and from student recommendations. I also use songs that my students like from participating in Señor Ashby’s “Locura de Marzo.”  Participating in this song competition, based on basketball’s Sweet 16 brackets, also takes the heat off me to find songs for a few weeks. 

I am no longer preoccupied with how a song relates to a grammatical concept or if my students understand every word.  The five minutes we spend a day on the Song of the Week is enjoyable! 

Here are some favorite songs I have used in class:

Ritmo Violento (ChocQuibTown)
Yo Contigo, Tú Conmigo (Álvaro Soler y Morat)
Lo Mismo (Álvaro Soler y Maitre Gims)
La Cintura (Álvaro Soler)
La Gozadera (Gente de Zona y Marc Anthony)
Soy y No Soy (El Chojin)
Cuba Isla Bella (Orishas)
Reggaetón Lento (CNCO)
Hola Señorita (Maluma y Maitre Gims)
Teléfono (Aitana)
Vaina Loca (Ozuna)