It’s no secret to any teacher who knows me that I use music in my classroom every single day. It is my hook, plain and simple. Music is a daily part of their English speaking world, why shouldn’t it be part of their Spanish speaking world, and help me to make that crossover to how relevant Spanish is in their lives? When the bell rings to change classes, and students begin walking down the language wing, they can hear the music from my classroom…..all kinds of music: Spanish rock, alternative, reggae, bachata, merengue, country, vallenato, classical, pop, andina. You name it and during my 180 days with them, they are going to hear it!
However, during those all so important first days with students, it is imperative that I meet them where they are, with music that I know they will immediately like and receive well. It is a key part to building trust, belief and being able to offer different types of music further into the year that will be received with relatively open minds. Building on the popularity of soccer in our area, and the enormous interest in the Copa Mundial 2010, I decided to begin with four World Cup Songs: Yerbatero (Juanes), Grito Mundial (Daddy Yankee), Waka Waka (Shakira) and Wavin’ Flag (David Bisbal and K’Naan). For the first 4 days of school, one of these songs was playing as students entered the classroom. Opening conversations each day centered around things they had done over the summer, sports, World Cup and music they liked. I cycled through the four songs again the next week. By far, their favorites were Waka Waka and Wavin’ Flag. Grito Mundial received an OK reception, but Yerbatero was not liked by most of them. For 2- 3 minutes at the beginning of each class, we looked at a few lines of the lyrics in the song of the day…what they could understand, words they recognized, what they could figure out, and some new vocabulary. I moved on, in the next week, to different songs each day (especially Mi Niña Bonita by Chino y Nacho and Fotografía by Juanes and Nelly Furtado), but in the fourth week, I returned to the first 4 songs with an activity that I found last summer in the “Lessons in a Can” page of the EFL Classroom 2.0, this: I took the form, and I put it in Spanish span 3 chap 7 3 song comparison puedes apreciar la música
I think that it was an interesting, relatively non threatening way to have students re-examine the music and the lyrics, plus it involved repetition of the lyrics, cementing some vocabulary that would be recycled throughout the school year. I chose to work with Waka Waka, Wavin’ Flag and Yerbatero. It did take the better part of the class period to complete the activity, but by that time, the students were singing parts of the lyrics. While they certainly knew Shakira and Daddy Yankee, they really didn’t have a clue who David Bisbal or Juanes were, but by the end of the year Bisbal and Juanes were two of their favorites, and many, many students had downloaded multiple songs of those two artists into their ipods (and, Yerbatero, by the end of the year was received favorably, in stark contrast to their dislike at the beginning of the year). Also, while initially Waka Waka was their favorite, it was Wavin’ Flag that took top honors by the end of the year, in our closing “concert”.