Lágrimas, much more than simply a song, by Camila

If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I teach with music all of the time.  I recently started teaching the Narcoviolencia unit for the fifth time.  I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kara Jacobs and Cristina Zimmerman for everything that they have shared with me in the past and this year.  The second half of the school year with Spanish IV has been transformed in the last two years with the addition of the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha. That has consequently changed the way I enter the Narcoviolencia unit.  We went from dreams and goals (right after the Christmas break) to the dreams and goals in El Salvador, via a study of their Civil War, the movie Voces Inocentes and then the novel.  This was followed, very logically, by a unit on immigration, which now leads into Narcoviolencia.  The unit this year was enhanced dramatically by two incredibly moving songs that were released in the last year and a half:  La Patria Madrina (Lila Downs and Juanes) and Lágrimas (Camila).  Kara and Cristina have created a spectacular study of La Patria Madrina (which is the second song in this unit). I am going to share how I have used Lágrimas, one of the most powerful, haunting songs I have experienced in Spanish, to make the transition from Immigration to Narcoviolencia.

This was the objective:

Students will identify the viewpoint and the perspectives in the lyrics and the video. Students will continue to add to and to refine their knowledge of immigration issues, roots, causes and impact while beginning to understand the depth of the violence in México and how it impacts the people of México and the United States.

These were the steps that I used:

Day One

  1. I made a Lágrimas with the images from the official video and inserted just the instrumental version of the song.  They did not know the title of the song. I had students watch and listen to it just once and had them react in small groups to what they had seen and how they felt.  We then shared as a class. Disclaimer: the images are NOT MINE.  They are taken directly from the official video released by Camila.
  2. We watched a second time, completing a Lagrimas chart for ppt that listed
  • Places
  • Colors
  • People
  • Feelings
  • Verbs
  • Words they wanted to know how to say
  1. We reviewed their charts.  Working with a partner, they wrote a brief response to the question “¿Qué está sucediendo en esta presentación?” I also asked them to create a title for the song. The results were powerful and impressive: Corazón roto, Quiero quedarme pero voy a huir, Amor traicionado, Involucrado, No hay nada que decir, Dolor que me mata, Tristeza sin palabras, etc.
  2. I intended for the next step to be a “free write”, but with a partner, using the images to create sentence fragments, poetry, or a smash doodle, to express what they saw and felt. However, the discussion over what was happening in the video, and the naming of the song with the resulting discussion, just took more time than I anticipated.                                                                                                                     5.  We then watched the official video.

Day Two

  1. We completed the first cloze (Lágrimas Cloze 1 and Cloze 2) for the song.  Working with a partner or two, each group created their own translation of the lyrics.
  2. We read one of the Lagrimas article and interview about or with, Camila.
  3. We sang the song.

Day Three

  1. We completed a second cloze (Lágrimas Cloze 1 and Cloze 2) for the song.  They worked revising their own translation of the lyrics.
  2. We sang it again.
  3. Working with the lagrimas images 2 from the opening day powerpoint, they selected about five of them and captioned them with detailed sentences using rich vocabulary.

The emotional impact of this song was enormous. Most of my students absolutely loved the haunting melody, and told me that once it was in their heads, they couldn’t get it out.  The imagery from the video and the discussions that we had made Lágrimas, for us, a very fitting, somber way to enter this unit.

Advertisements

A versatile song for verb tenses

For a couple of years I have used the song Todo Cambió by Camila when working with the preterite and imperfect.  Each year, the song has been well received, but this year, the Spanish III students absolutely loved it.  Spanish IV students have also enjoyed Llorar by Jesse y Joy and Mario Domm (from Camila).  For many of them, they would list Jesse y Joy, Camila and Juanes as their favorite Spanish artists.  Unfortunately (or so I thought), both Mario Domm and Samo from Camila have left the group to pursue separate careers. About two months ago I ran across the song Inevitable by Samo (after listening to what was then his new release,Sin Ti). I thought it was interesting,made a note to use it, but forgot about it.  Thanks to the ever creative, resourceful Zachary Jones, I was reminded of the song again this past week when he used it as a Clozeline activity, and knew immediately that I had to use it with my Spanish III students as we continue to focus on present indicative and past tenses with authentic resources.  Little did I know how much my classes were going to like this song!!

Using the idea from Zachary Jones, I decided to focus on the present indicative verbs as well as the preterite verbs in the song Inevitable.  I always have music playing between the change of classes, as students are entering my room.  On Thursday, the song playing was Inevitable by Samo. Sometimes students merely glance at my SMARTboard to see the video when they enter, other times they really watch.  This was definitely the latter.  I started class focusing on vocabulary activities for our current unit, telling them that we would be working with the song later in the class.  I then passed out SAMO pres pret imp.  Working with a partner, I gave the students about 30 seconds to identify what was in the two boxes.  I then gave them about a minute to work through the verbs orally to identify them. Prior to listening to the song, we talked about the word, inevitable, in English, and I had them predict what they thought was going to happen in the song.  I then played the song (without letting them see the video) and had them complete the cloze.  The first time, I stopped after the first 7 lines to verify that they were clearly hearing the lyrics and that they just couldn’t write fast enough to complete it all.  I then started the song again, and almost all of them successfully finished the song.  We confirmed the verbs and then they worked their way through what they thought the lyrics were saying.  Next, we watched the video.  To say that they liked it is putting it very mildly. They asked to sing it in Spanish, which we did….twice….and the next day, too!

Because Spanish IV is working with the present subjunctive, I decided to use the song for them, also.  The focus for them was present indicative, preterite and present subjunctive.  I had them, with a partner, identify the three boxes as well as the meaning of the verbs (Samo pres pret subj).  I then had them look at the lyrics in the first seven lines and tentatively guess what verbs they thought would complete each line.  In all three classes, they chose almost all of the correct verbs prior to listening.  Next, they listened and completed the cloze.  I then had them focus on where the subjunctive was being used and, with their partner, they determined why it was being used.  Finally, I asked them to try to say the lyrics in ENGLISH as the Spanish was playing: Bedlam! They practically begged to sing it in Spanish. Many of the students asked if they could download the song on their phones immediately!  Of course I had to say yes!

The next day, Friday, I used the much slower Samo song, Tú fuiste quien.  This time, the focus was on past tense.  I did not expect the Spanish III classes to enjoy this song as much as Inevitable, and they didn’t.  However, they did like it.  We will work with it again on Monday……at their request!  

Updated music database

Music Artists WordleI began my formal music database (meaning in Excel format), three years ago. I created the formal document when I could no longer keep all the music that I was using in my head!  That first document had about 300 songs, organized by artist, title, grammatical point, vocabulary, culture, country and youtube link.  I’ve updated it regularly over the last three years, usually every month or so.  The latest update brings the total number of songs to over 1,080.  I’ve been contacted by several people who say that they can’t find the database.  Hence the reason for this post.  The latest document is available on this page on my wikispace: Spanish Music Database

Also available on that page are links to the workshop that I did for both MFLA and  NECTFL.  Those links have specific activities for using the songs for vocabulary, grammar and culture.  I’ve been teaching a long time, and I have picked up activities from countless people along the way.  I owe them all…..many times anonymously!

As always, I encourage you to add artists!  I would really like to know who your favorites are….who your students enjoy….and how you use their music!

Spanish Music for enjoyment that leads to……

Yesterday I referenced Prince Royce (real name:  Geoffrey Royce Rojas) in my blog post about Chino y Nacho.  Unlike the activity that I used with Chino y Nacho, I had no activity to use with Prince Royce’s song “Junto a Mí (Stand by me)”.  So why did I choose to use it as my warm up/students entering class song?  Primarily for sheer enjoyment, but also because:  I knew that the students would like it, the song is already familiar to them, there is a good video for it with a very positive message, and I knew the students would think that Prince Royce is really cute and he is only 21 years old (and yes, those are valid reasons!). Lastly, the song got their attention as they were entering class, and they were immediately switched over to “Spanish mode”.

The song is in English and Spanish….. how is that valuable?  Was there an ulterior motive in the selection of this song?  Well, of course there was!  The lyrics, though brief, contain several good teachable points without having to teach:

  • “Y la luna es la luz que brilla ante mí:  luna, luz, brilla all will be “new” vocabulary in an upcoming unit, but here they will be exposed to the words prior to that unit, and hopefully, the words will not be new when we get there!
  • “Y aunque las montañas o el cielo caiga”:  montañas and cielo will also be “new” vocabulary in an upcoming unit, and caiga….well caiga is subjunctive, and I like to teach subjunctive without calling it subjunctive (for a long time), and having it occur naturally
  • “Miedo no, no tendré, oh I won’t no me asustaré AND  no lloraré, no lloraré, oh, I won’t shed a tear: miedo is a word that they should have learned the year before, (Spanish II), but that we are reviewing with “tener idioms”; tendré/asustaré/lloraré, we learn future tense in Spanish III, so this is a good glimpse into it before we get there.  (They will have memorized these lyrics long before we get there.)

Additionally, although Prince Royce is from New York City, his parents both came from the Dominican Republic.  The Dominican Republic is part of a large music/social awareness unit later in the year (topic of a future post).  This becomes another link in the puzzle.  Also, I will be using the song “Corazón sin Cara” by Prince Royce when we get to the clothing/review of adjectives unit.  With prior favorable exposure to Prince Royce, students tend to view this song, which is not familiar to them, with more open eyes (or ears!).  This was just the case, too, when we got to “Corazón sin Cara”, which became a favorite of several students.

Once the students have seen the video a few times, over the span of several weeks, I eventually switch to a video that has just the lyrics, and they will pay just as much attention to that video as they did the actual official video.  Why?  Because now they are internalizing the lyrics.

My student last year liked this song so much that they requested to use it in our Spanish Honor Society induction (La Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica).  Two new inductees sang the song, and the members sang with the chorus.

There are quite a few artists who mix English and Spanish in their songs.  Nota, from Puerto Rico, is another group that my students really liked last year.  In December 2009, Nota won the top prize on The Sing-Off, a hit show on NBC that features a competition between a cappella groups and in late 2010 they released their first album.  One of the songs on that album is called “Te Amo (My Girl)”, another song that is instantly familiar to many. Additionally, it repeated many vocabulary words that we had been studying. It was also an introduction to a cappella music for many of them; it took some convincing that all of the sounds they heard were actually being made by the six men in the video!

However, though they like “Te Amo (My Girl)”, their favorite really is the Nota version of a Camila song “Todo Cambió“.  The song is useful for Spanish students because it is slow, easily understood and contains a lot of preterite verbs.  I used both the Nota version as well as the Camila original several times during the course of the year.

This past month, I discovered, through NPR’s Alt Latino Blog,  another artist using English/Spanish in her songs. Gina Chavez is new to me, but I will be using her song, Miles de Millas (2000 Miles)  with my students this year to see what they think.