Step by Step (Part 1) – Learning Spanish Language with “The Sound of Music”.
Frequent exposure to Spanish language is essential in order to become familiar with its sounds and expressions for a consistent and effective learning process. It is important that a student should be eager to integrate Spanish into their everyday life when starting to learn the language and the best way to achieve this will be different for each individual.
Ways of familiarising your ears to the sounds of a new language can include: listening to Spanish music or to talk-radio and watching online television from Spanish speaking countries. Even if students do not understand everything, it provides an insight into the syntax of the language and will help with correct pronunciation on the path to fluent Spanish.
Proactive curiosity and appropriation of words and expressions from extra class activities, as if we were picking up gold nuggets from the river of knowledge, is and will always be a rewarding pursuit in any learning process. How often have we listened to a song and subsequently accessed online lyric providers to ensure that whilst we are singing along we are in fact singing the correct words? The same is true for Spanish music. Find a song that you like, find the lyrics online and sing-along, using a Spanish dictionary as a companion to discover what the song is about.
A native speaker or a teacher can help you to choose appropriate songs matching your level of Spanish and can help in explaining the nuances of the lyrics which all feeds into the learning process. We are spoiled for choice when deciding on the types of Spanish music to listen to. From the myriad of romantic Cuban Boleros, a slow-gentle genre, to the emotional and sensual Flamenco from Spain, there is a wide range of styles and rhythms to suit all tastes.
It is hard is for me to pick just one bolero in particular but one of my favourites is “Como fue” by the Colombian singer Ikira Baru, or the version sung by Chilean Felo Bohr. When I think of ‘Bolero’ music I cannot help but think of the well known group “Trio los Panchos” (who was my parents’ favourite Bolero group of all time) so why not surf the internet and find one of their songs, find the lyrics as part of an extra circular approach to mastering Spanish?
My romantic father used to sing to my mother this song by Armando Manzanero:
” Cuando estoy contigo no se que es más bello,
Si el color del cielo o el de tu cabello.
No sé de tristezas todo es alegría,
Solo se que eres tú la vida mía.”
” When I am with you I don’t know what is more beautiful
the color of the sky or the color of your hair.
I don’t know of sadness, all is happiness,
only I know that you are my life (free translation).”
Inspirational poetry, by Spanish literary figures, has become beautiful lyrics set to music; such as “La Paloma” by Rafael Alberti as performed by Juan Manuel Serrat in 1968 and listening to this will provide an insight into the beauty of the Spanish language.
For those who like to shake their body whilst doing chores: the sensual Colombian Cumbia and the Dominican Bachata; the rhythmic Cuban Cha-cha-cha, Rumba and Mambo; the romantic melodies from South and Central America, Latin American Rock, the prolific contemporary Latin pop music and the Salsa will help to keep you in shape and to become more fluent.
La vida es una tombola, Rubén Blades sings in the well known Salsa: Pedro Navaja, a wonderful and tragic story not to be missed and Alaska, one of the great divas of Spanish music from the 80’s and 90’s, recorded Bailando, one of her most successful songs, which became an anthem for Spanish Youth.
Whilst formal structured classes are the primary option for those learning Spanish frequent indirect exposure via music is to be strongly recommended (Trust me I am a Spanish Tutor) if you want to become fluent. Before I say goodbye for now, I’d like to mention the song: No habrá nadie en el mundo, by the sensual and emotionally charged voice of Concha Buika, a Godess of Spanish music that I have recently discovered.