My sister, a middle school and college Spanish 1 teacher, was thrilled with this idea and she was so kind to put together these tips on how to choose a song. I have to confess that these tips were meant to be just for Jared and me to use as a guideline, but I asked her if I can share this online because I think that they can help our Spanish Teacher Community.
I want to thank my sister for these tips and other ideas that I will be sharing with you soon! -Diana
How to Choose a Song for Classroom Activities?
Here are some general tips on how to select a song.
1. Outline your goals.
Do you want the students to review a communication pattern? Are you teaching a complex grammar pattern that needs to be seen in context right away for it to make sense? Do you want them to review their dictionary skills? Once you have set clear goals for using popular songs it will be easier to find the most appropriate one.
2. Choose songs that contain known patterns and vocabulary.
The students will feel a great sense of accomplishment when they see the patterns that they know in context and can understand the song right away without the aid of a dictionary.
3. Scan the song for inappropriate content.
Even if you are a native speaker, make sure that you understand all the imagery of the song. When in doubt, research it! The least you want is to offend someone with topics or lyrics that might be misinterpreted or offensive to them. If you find that the language may only be offensive in one country, you may explain to the students that in “X” country it is OK to say a word, but not in another country. You may not need to go into further detail.
4. Research the historical or cultural background of the song.
It will help when you discuss the song with the class.
If you teach young students:
5. Research the singer.
If the singer is too controversial for the particular culture of your school, you may not want to use the song. Each school and class is different.
6. YouTube it.
Research the official video. Students will be drawn to the Internet to find the song. While you can’t shield students from every possible third party video published online, if the official video is not appropriate for the age of your students and the culture of your school, you may want to rethink your choice.
7. Choose songs with music that is appealing to your students.
While some songs may be super valuable because of its content, your students may be bored if the music is not appealing to them. Dance songs are usually the best.
• If the students enjoy the song, they will most likely learn it. Learning songs will help to engrain communication patterns in your student’s brain without a need to “memorize” them.
• In the past a lot of teachers used poetry for this purpose, but lets face it, no teenager goes to the poetry circle anymore. Popular songs are it!
• If you build a repertoire of songs for class, you may even have a “Spanish Idol” contest on the last day of school or during a pep rally at your school. Use the songs beyond the lesson to keep the students engaged!
8. Find opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.
You may want to consult with the Language Arts teacher about how familiar your students are with poetic language. If they are not, plan a unit together. Your endeavor will be easier and more fulfilling if the students can interpret not only the lyrics, but their meaning.
Check out these other articles to Teach Spanish.