A favorite song….and what to do with it

In late May 2010 I came across a song titled “Mi Niña Bonita” by a duo whom I had not heard of previously, Chino y Nacho.  I played it in school as my opening song (the way I start every class), and the response was overwhelmingly positive.  They requested the song for days afterwards.  So, it wasn’t surprising that it would go into my beginning year rotation in September 2010.  As I wrote in a previous post, I always start the school year with music that I believe will be received positively and enthusiastically; it is key in the beginning stages of building a relationship with my students so that they will be open to different genres of music later in the school year.  Looking back at my notes from last year, I see that I played it on Tuesday, September 7 for the first time, following the Copa Mundial songs the previous week.  And, as I expected, the majority of my students really liked it.  The video that I used is no longer available, but here is one available version (I’ll include another at the end of this post):

So, what to do with this song?  First, as they entered class (we have 5 minutes to change classes), they listened for sheer enjoyment .  When the bell rang, I asked them what they thought the name of the song was…..duh!  I asked if they heard any other words in the song that they knew, and some could identify amor or corazón, but overall, they didn’t distinguish much from that first listening, and certainly the section toward the middle that is very fast, left them without any word that they understood:

Le agradezco al tiempo
Que me ha demostrado que las cosas buenas llegan
En cualquier momento
Yo no imaginaba que conocería
Algún día este sentimiento

Un amor de fantasía, lleno de romance y alegría
De bello detalle cada día
Nena, quién lo diría
Que algún día yo me enamoraría
Y que sin tu amor
No viviría

BUT.….they liked it!  They liked the melody, they liked the beat, they liked the video. Next, we looked at the lyrics:  we looked for words they knew, words they could figure out, words that were repeated.  We listened again, but to only a portion of the song.  They could hear more words.  That was enough for the first day.  All total, this took perhaps the first 5 minutes of class, and we moved on to something else.  The next day, Wednesday, Sept. 8, the music playing as they came to class was not “Mi Niña Bonita” but Prince Royce with “Junto a mí (Stand by me)”, which they also immediately liked. After the bell rang, I spent one minute on Prince Royce (where he is from, words they heard, etc.), but quickly moved back into “Mi Niña Bonita”, asking in Spanish, the name of the song, who sings it, and where are they from (Venezuela).  I played perhaps 30 seconds of the video and then we looked at the lyrics again.  Using a powerpoint song game idea that came from the EFL Classroom 2.0 and that I changed to fit the Spanish song, we looked at this slide:

I chose those particular words for these reasons:

  • high frequency words in music
  • object pronouns that we were going to review
  • vocabulary that would be new this year (dulce, nubes, besar)

I gave them 30 seconds to choose one word or phrase and to write it on the whiteboard that was at their desk.  I created 3 teams, based on the way they were seated in class and I explained that we were going to listen to the song again and when they heard their word, they were to stand up; when they heard it again, they were to sit down etc., etc..  (To my amazement, there was someone in each group who had selected each of the words available.) Supposedly the winner is the last person standing, but we never made it that far.  They had way too much fun listening for the word and standing up and sitting down. (We did not use the video or the lyrics during this part!) Next, we listened again to the song, this time with the lyrics projected, and the selected words in red:

Finally we sang with the song with the lyrics projected.  I asked, without lyrics available, what words they now understood AND heard in the song, and the response was far different from the first day.  That was the extent of the “work” that we did with the song.  Literally for weeks afterwards, whenever we were working on something “quiet”, they requested that I play that song (among several others), and I usually did.  It was one of the first songs that many downloaded to their iPods.

Here is the powerpoint that I changed from the original EFL Classroom 2.0 version; you will have to insert the audio again.

LastOneStanding Mi Niña Bonita

Another version of “Mi Niña Bonita”

4 thoughts on “A favorite song….and what to do with it

  1. What a great write up! Thanks for mentioning EFL Classroom.

    It really is a great lesson activity and as you relate – memorable. I think one of the best things about it is that it bonds the class and helps create a better class environment.


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