09 October 2014

Start with a Song: Pop Music Motivates

It started with an L2 twist on a literacy activity for building fluency. It has become an addiction.

My students are spontaneously bursting out singing and dancing in their seats while they work--and in the hall. They are making their parents listen to their new favorite Spanish songs they just downloaded. They are speaking Spanish as a reflex and making connections in every other activity.

My students like Spanish.

This is the playlist I've put together of songs I've used for the activity (this year's at the top), and a sample view of the way I set up the worksheets:

I've assembled all the worksheets I've used so far this semester on TeachersPayTeachers plus a bundle with the whole semester's SMARTboard pages and handouts, too, if you're interested. Also see more about the process on a previous post.

Now you can try my way, of course, but mainly you need two things to get your kids rocking: a rocking playlist and any excuse to repeat.

A rocking playlist
Get to know your kids and their preferences, and seek out songs that suit their tastes. While I am delighted to share my passion for David Bisbal with so many of my students, I'm afraid they don't all appreciate Mana like I do. It's trial and error--and previews. And videos that are attractive, but won't get you fired.

Check out my Pinterest board (lifted largely from that of Sra. Birch) or Latino Billboard or just launch yourself down some YouTube suggestion rabbit holes. The key is to find something that the kiddos cannot resist, something that will STICK. A lot of repetition is good, too, and don't be afraid of a really short simple chorus, especially at the beginning of year one. Choruses of about 4 lines are usually best for novices, and I have been known to cut longer choruses in half.

Me, I try to keep the playlist somewhat balanced, too: gender, ethnicity, country of origin, and genre. I mean, I love Enrique too, but, seriously, let's help kids dig a little deeper...even if they'll never appreciate '90s Mexican pop rock or Argentine ska.

Also, look for high-frequency words--especially verbs--in the lyrics so you can eventually hum a few bars to prompt recall in key sentences. I've made sure that words like soy,eres, voy, and puedes feature in our weekly selections.

Any excuse to repeat
We already start class with coros 3 times a week, and if students go home and read aloud like they're supposed to, they get at least 10 repetitions in before we even record or perform.

I also keep my playlist running through pretty much any independent assignment. Time for portfolio reflections? Playlist. Time for blogging? Playlist. Time for independent reading or ExploraTextos? Playlist.

And you know those cute little rhymes our L1 kindergarten counterparts get to use to get students' attention? Coros: I say "Voy a reir," they say "voy a gozar," I say "vivir mi vida," they say "la la la la." I do this with as many songs as possible. They love it.


  1. Thank you for sharing your playlist! Going to give this a try :)

  2. Thank you for the playlist! I use music in my classroom every single day and have amassed a nice little playlist myself. Would you be interested? I will eventually get around to doing a blogpost on it, but that may be a while. :) I love combing through Los 40 principales every summer to see if they have anything new, fun, and appropriate!

    1. I would LOVE to see your playlist! I am always on the prowl for new music to get my kiddos hooked! I had never heard of Los40.com! Thanks for the heads up!

    2. Here is the blog post I wrote about the music I use. I'm sure I'll continue to add to it! :)