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!

I think I’m back!

After many months of absence due to my mothers’ illness and passing, I think I am ready to re-enter the blog and twitter world!  It will be my goal to update at least twice each month, but I’m also teaching full time while being an accelerated master’s degree candidate in TESOL (meaning I’m taking 18 credits in the span of 8 months), so that might be a bit optimistic until school is finished for the year!

In several of my earlier blog entries, I alluded to a unit that I do on “social awareness”. I wrote three different entries on Somos el mundo, Ojalá que llueva café and Minas Piedras.  I always meant to go back and do an entry on the entire unit.  That hasn’t happened yet, but since I have gotten questions about it recently, I thought that I could at least post an entry about the unit in progress.  So, if you are interested, you can visit my wikispace ( elmundodebirch.wikispaces.com ) that I use to post my lessons each day for myself and my students: La Música 2012 .  So far we have covered La República Dominicana with Juan Luis Guerra and the songs El Costo de la Vida and Ojalá que llueva café, Somos el mundo and a little bit of Aventura and Prince Royce.  We have just begun looking at Colombia and Juanes with La Historia de Juan and  La Camisa Negra.  We had already worked with A Dios le pido as we began the study of the present subjunctive, but we revisit it in this unit because the lyrics will now have additional meaning.  If you visit the wikispace, you can see the progression of the lessons each day.  It is a work in progress, and I’m usually only posting the lessons a day or so ahead of the actual date.  The current week is always at the top of the page, with the oldest material at the bottom of the page.  Therefore, if you start at the bottom of the page and scroll up, you will see the unit in chronological order! Today we reviewed what we know, and moved forward with the song Sueño (Juanes).  When you see references to photostory (an awesome program!), it refers to photostories that I have made for specific topics and songs. This week we will also be examining Minas Piedras and hopefully Bandera de Manos and Odio por amor.

If you are wondering how I do this unit (which lasts about a month) and still cover the “grammar”, it’s relatively easy.  Spanish III focuses on preterite and imperfect and present subjunctive with a bit of present perfect.  The students get constant re-inforcement on the structures through examining the lyrics, various writing assignments and some rote practice related to the songs.  You will see some of those activities listed on the wikispace.  If you have questions or suggestions….especially suggestions!  🙂  I welcome them!

Songs and activities for clothing

As language teachers we all have to teach units on clothing and descriptive adjectives, and we all have an array of activities that we use.  Last year, in Spanish III,  I wanted to incorporate some music specifically to work with clothing vocabulary and found two songs with “me pongo” in the titles!  Mango Punch is a group from Texas and El Marchena is from Spain.    For this song, which my students found to be really fast and difficult to understand (clothing is the second chapter of the school year), I had them listen merely for clothing words that they could understand, and then the numbers associated with them.  I also had them try to determine what the problem was, as indicated in the song.

They had more fun with the Mango Punch video    After listening to it, then viewing it, I had the students attempt to complete this:

¿Qué me pongo?  Mango Punch

¿Qué palabra oyes?

Tan sólo    quince / catorce  años tenía ésta joven al iniciarse
en ese diario dilema que experimentan tantas    mujeres/ mares
sin falta cada mañana poquito antes de     maquillarse / vestirse
iba a buscar a su mami para    probarle / pedirle   que le aconseje.

¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
No sé si me va ponerme la  bufanda/ blusa azul y el moño  rojo / rosado
¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
Y este corte de vestirse /vestido      pasó de moda / pasó la moto  el año pasado
¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
con este pantalón   blanco / negro yo creo que ya parezco retrato
¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
no quiero que mis amigas me hagan pasar tremendo mal rato

Esta situación tan mala ni se acercaba a la gran tortura
de tener que ir al centro comercial / colegio todos los días uniformada
pero lo que casi casi la lleva a borde de la locura
era que su demás ropa / reloj  era muy poquita y medio anticuada.

¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
No sé si me va ponerme la blusa  con aretes / azul y el moño rosado
¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
Y este corte/caro de vestido pasó de moda el año /  mes pasado
¿Qué me pongo, mami, qué me pongo?
con este pantalón / pulsera  negro yo creo que ya parezco retrato
¿Qué me pongo, mami  / papi  , qué me pongo?
no quiero que mis amigas me hagan pasar tremendo mal rato

1.  ¿Cómo se dice “What should I wear?  ___________________________

2.  ¿Qué es el problema que tiene muchas muchachas/chicas?


3.  ¿Qué es la gran tortura?  _______________________________

Another listening activity that we did was called “Mi Día Terrible” in which I described what happened that morning as I got ready to go to school.  This was the script:

Es un día terrible!  Me levanté tarde y no había luz en mi dormitorio.  No podía ver la ropa.  Cuando llegué a la escuela, vi que llevaba:

  1. unos pantalones negros
  2. unos caletines azules
  3. una camisa roja, rosada y violeta
  4. una bufanda verde y azul
  5. unos zapatos anaranjados
  6. un collar de Disney
  7. una chaqueta amarilla

The students had  another paper where they had to determine, after listening, what I actually wore.

¿Qué oyes?

pulsera                                     tacones altos

pantalones                               collar

zapatos                                    blusa

camisa                                    calcetines

abrigo                                      chaqueta

bufanda                                   anillo

 Escucha otra vez y escribe los colores de la ropa.

 Ahora, dibuja, con colores, lo que llevó tu profesora.

Another song that I put in this unit so that we could review and expand on descriptive vocabualary was “Corazón sin cara” by Prince Royce. We first watched the video, discussed what they thought he was saying, and then listened again with the words and a few pictures that illustrated unfamiliar words.

y ya me contaron… que te acomplejas de tu imagen
y mira el espejo external image 015espejo.jpg
que linda eres sin maquillaje external image maquillaje.jpg
y si eres gorda o flaca todo eso no me importa a mí
y tampoco soy perfecto sólo sé que yo te quiero así
y el corazón no tiene cara
y te prometo que lo nuestro nunca va a terminar
y el amor vive en el alma
ni con un deseo
sabes que nada de ti irá a cambiar
prende una vela external image light-a-candle.jpg , rézale a Dios external image 127C85D1-3117-4BF5-AC35B16FA4D36FA9.jpg y dale gracias que tenemos ese lindo corazón
prende una vela, pide perdón
y por creer que tu eres fea te dedico esta canción

Another activity involved collecting many large photos from magazines and laminating them.  Each group of two students received a photo and had thirty seconds to describe all of the clothing in the picture, the colors, where someone would wear the clothing, etc. They then passed the picture to the right to the next group of student and received a new picture from the group to their left, and the process started again. To help expand the vocabulary, they could see this on the SMARTboard:

  • la ropa
  • los colores dark: oscuro/a light: claro/a gold: dorado silver: plateado
  • los accesorios (las joyas) gold: de oro silver: de plata
  • a rayas external image textured-henley-striped-shirt_041908.jpg a cuadrosexternal image Crispin_Plaid_Fabric.jpg
  • de lunares external image polka-dot-red-white.jpg

Of course, there were many, many opportunities to have conversations with partners.  Here is a guided example:

Let’s go shopping at the mall!

OK…what do you want to look for?

Well, I wanted a new green shirt, but I need new pants.  My old pants are tight.

I think that AE is having a big sale.  All of the shirts and jeans are on sale.

Really?  Let’s go there.

At the store  En la tienda

Hey, look at these shirts.  Do you like the plaid ones or the striped ones more?

Hmmm, I don’t know.  I think that I like the striped ones more.

I don’t think they have them in my size.

What size do you need?

Sometimes I need a medium, sometimes a large.  These look like they are all smalls.

Oh well, let’s look at the pants.

OK, but I’m going to have to try them on.

The dressing rooms are to the right.

OK.  How much do these pants cost?

Look at the ticket.  It has the price.

Wow!  40% reduced.  A great discount!

trying them on

What do you think?  How do I look?

You look OK.  But they are a little loose, I like the first pants more.

Yeah.  I’m going to buy them.  How much are they with tax?

They are_____.  Son______

I’m so happy that I found what I was looking for.

Another guided conversation, but with less guidance is this activity about the last time I went shopping:

La última vez que fui de compras…….

  1. ¿Qué querías comprar?
  2. ¿Adónde fuiste?
  3. ¿Encontraste lo que buscabas en ese lugar (place)?
  4. ¿Te acompaño alguien (somebody)?
  5. ¿Fuiste a varios lugares o un solo lugar?
  6. ¿Cómo era la tienda adónde fuiste?  ¿Quiénes estaban allí?
  7. ¿Por qué compraste o no compraste lo que buscabas?
  8. ¿Cuánto pagaste?  ¿Había descuentos?

A more open ended practice was when I gave the group of two to three students a situation and they created a dialogue for it.  Over the span of several days, each group had at least three of the situations:

  • You are in the dressing room trying on many different articles of clothing for a beach vacation.  Some fit, others don’t, maybe the color or size is wrong, etc. What do you want to buy/what should you buy?  Your friend let’s you know what does/doesn’t look good.
  • You are in the store looking for articles of clothing that are on sale but there are problems with the sizes. Can you find what you are looking for? Your friend helps you look for/find different things.
  •  You are about to go to the cash register to pay for several articles of clothing and you don’t know if you have enough money. What you want and what you need are two different things. Your friend helps you figure out how much things cost.
  • You are on the TV show “How Do I Look”  (¿Cómo me veo?) and you are making comments about the clothes someone has/or is wearing. What is the problem with the clothing and what should you do? Your friend helps you decide what looks good/doesn’t look good.
  •  You are in the dressing room trying on many different articles of clothing for a big school dance.  Some fit, others don’t, maybe the color or size is wrong, etc. Your friend helps you to decide what accessories you need.

And finally, just for fun, here is a great link for reviewing colors with a great little memory game:


and of course there is also the awesome BBC program Mi Vida LocaChapter 17 deals with buying clothing, and can be used without viewing the previous chapters.  My students have always enjoyed this, even if it is a bit elementary for Spanish III.

There are so many activities that can be done with this essential Spanish vocabulary.  I would really like to hear some of the activities that work well with you.

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.