Every classroom has plenty of speaking, reading, and writing, but listening seems to always be a challenge. Especially when you don’t have a curriculum or textbook that has targeted listening activities, it can feel overwhelming to find authentic listening resources that are both easy enough for students to complete while also providing a targeted enough task that it’s relevant to the current learning. If you’ve run into this problem, have you considered using music and authentic songs?
Obviously, when selecting a song for a task, it is important to decide beforehand what you actually want your students to do for their task. Let’s take a song I recently used, Calaverita by Santa Cecilia, in my classroom, and see a few ways to utilize it.
As the trend continues to teach grammar in context, consider what a song offers. For example, this song features several examples of the subjunctive tense, with several instances of the phrase “para que.” Give your students an activity sheet with the instances of the subjunctive missing, and have them fill in the blanks.
Sometimes just listening to a song and getting the main idea will instill confidence in students, and allow them to show demonstration of comprehension even if they don’t understand every single word. Have students listen for cognates and other recognizable words even as low as level 1. Beginning in level 2, give them guided questions to lead them to understanding what is happening in the narrative of the song, or have students mention activities that they see and hear in the video.
When I used this song at the beginning of the month, my main focus was culture. Dia de los Muertos is a rich tradition in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, and while gaining popularity is still largely unknown and misunderstood in the United States. The song was used as an opportunity to show students how death is a celebration more than a mournful experience, as evidenced by the upbeat nature of the song and the dancing, lights, and more seen throughout. Songs and their videos provide a rich glimpse into the culture of the country the song was written in, and can be used for holidays, points of view of nature, and more.