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Wednesday, July 11, 2012 (read 406 times)
Learning Spanish through Musicby Aisling
Somewhat embarrassingly, I took up Spanish because of Shakira. I bought the album Laundry Service when I was ten, and learnt off the words to Suerte (Whenever, Wherever) primarily so I could show off to my dad (who holds a degree in Spanish). As the years went by, I listened to more and more Shakira, indiscriminately learning off both Spanish and English versions of songs. When I turned 13 and it came time for me to enter the big bad world of secondary school, and dip my toes for the first time into a foreign language, I didn’t even bother thinking about French or German. Nope, it was off to the Spanish classroom for me, with its colourful posters, photographs of historical monuments, and, appropriately, its perfect location in the sunniest spot of the school. Throughout the next 6 years, my love of Shakira was a godsend – who knew that I had actually been singing the subjunctive 4 years before I had even heard of it?! This realisation woke me up to the fact that Spanish music had increased my vocabulary, my level of grammar, and, most importantly, my confidence in speaking. So away I went to look up some more Spanish artists. These are the best ones I’ve found so far for improving my Spanish:
- Singers like Paulina Rubio are auto-tuned enough that anyone can make out what they’re saying so if you’re a complete beginner, she’s a good place to start. My favourite song of hers is Ni una sola palabra.
- Alternatively lookup translations of songs you already know – Monique does a good Spanish version of Rihanna’s We Found Love called Encontramos el Amor, which is a good way to get into listening to Spanish music for beginners
- For younger listeners, the current number one Yo te esperaré is sung by a duo called Cali y El Dandee, and features some fairly slow rap that’s easy to pick up on. It also whips out a school choir at the end which was an enormous shock, and is one of those great songs to sing when you’re mocking someone because it’s so emotionally overwrought. They have some other funny songs such as Gol if you find you like their more modern style.
- Bands such El Canto del Loco and Fito y Fitipaldis (sadly the former have broken up) have an extensive discography, and sing quite quickly, so I would advise them for either a more advanced speaker or someone who has a lot of patience. For ECDL, the album Zapatillas is a good place to start – it features the charity single Despiertame. For Fito y Fitipaldis, I have to recommend one of my favourite songs in the world – Por la boca vive el pez. The lyrics are hilarious, and there’s a fantastic sax solo in the middle.
- If the current style isn’t really your thing, make sure to look up Ana Belén and Antonio Flores – especially No Dudaría by Flores, which is 3 minutes and 35 seconds of a condensed lesson in oraciones condicionales.
- And finally, of course, I have to pay homage to Shakira’s latest album Sale el Sol (entirely in Spanish). It has a mix of different styles on it – Antes de las Seis is a lovely slowy that almost anyone can follow, where party songs such as Loca and Rabiosa are well known as chart-toppers. My personal recommendations are Gordita and Devoción, which are extremely fast but worth a listen (although I wouldn’t go round looking up the lyrics to Gordita when your granny’s over!)
Spanish music is excitingly different from English or American music with different rhythms and cultural references, and at times it can be a better teacher than ‘el profe’, so get on your computer and get Googling!
Keywords: learning Spanish, Spanish music, Shakira, Spanish culture