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Before the age of the internet, yes there used to be no internet, or just very few people surfed it, you used to have to buy a CD or, eek, a cassette or record, in order to get the written lyrics to help you with exercises in which to improve your Spanish fluency. Well, luckily when I lived in Venezuela I had plenty of people that could help. So my best friend Felipo listened to the entire track of a couple of songs that had been given to me a few years prior and wrote down all the words. Up to that point I had heard each song no less than 100 times each and could make out many of the words, but once Felipo wrote them all down for me on paper I was able to memorize the whole thing. In fact, just the other day I tested my memory and to my surprise was able to recite most of the song still to this day and it’s been several years since I even thought about it. Those two songs were “El Tiburon” and “Pedro Navaja” by Ruben Blades, old school salsa from the 70s. That’s when the salsa was really good, when the songs told a vivid story. Memorizing songs will help your fluency, it will teach you how to say new phrases and guess what? It will also improve your grammar. So for all those Spanish students out there across the globe dreading wading through the hundreds of pages from a text book, here is a great way to have fun while learning. When you memorize lyrics you don’t have to think about what is being said. The words are automatically “downloaded” into you mind and BOOM, you are speaking fluently, at least for a little bit.
What songs are best to improve Spanish fluency?
I do recommend in another post that beginners practice with children’s Spanish songs, but that’s not for fluency, rather learning vocabulary and to create a foundation of simple grammar. I’m asking you to try out cooler, modern songs to not only have fun, but to focus on mastering speech fluency, how NOT to sound like a robot when you talk. Now I do think salsa songs are the best for advanced learning, at least older Salsa from the 70s. They don’t just repeat the same chorus over and over and that’s all, rather they tell a story which will fill your head with lots of vocabulary. Chorus is good for beginners because it is easier to understand. A new hipper, popular song will be played on the radio more so you can hear it several times further making it easier to memorize. Plus it’s a way to know what people are listening to today. In general, today’s songs, no matter the genre, are simpler and easier to follow than the salsa songs previously mentioned, which often times are 10 minutes long! So let’s check out “Estoy Enamorado-” (I’m in Love) a slow song by Latin hip hop artists Wisin & Yandel. I love these guys, their songs range from slow to fast with very catchy lyrics and they are always on the radio here where I live. Click here to go to a video on Youtube to hear Estoy Enamorado, by Wisin &Yandel. Read the lyrics “letras” while you listen to the song. I’ve also provided the lyrics farther down here, just scroll down in a minute. Make sure to click the link below the lyrics to print off a copy. By the way, a great place for the “letras” for Latin songs is www.musica.com. That’s where I go. The song is about the singer thinking about the woman he loves, describing how he feels about her and how he wants to tell her about those feelings. How to Practice Spanish Fluency with this Song 1. Focus on the chorus: Estoy enamorado Te lo quiero confesar Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte English translation I’m in love I want to confess it to you Completely in love (my translation) I’m always thinking about you, I’m never going to let you go 2.
*Great Fluency Tip
Notice the running of the words together in the Chorus “Te lo quiero confesar,” sounds like “Teloquiero confesar,” two words instead of four. “Me la paso pensandote,” sounds like “Melapasopensandote,” two words instead of four again. “..nunca voy a soltarte,” sounds like “..nuncavoya soltarte.” 3. Listen to the song at least 3 times before looking up any of the words with a Spanish-English dictionary. Spanish sounds fast to many English speakers and although I believe English sounds fast to others too, I do believe that Spanish theoretically could be spoken faster- more words per minute. This is because many words begin and end with vowels. You do not use your tongue or lips to pronounce them which allows you to slip right into the next word more easily, like in the chorus above. If you are in Spanish classes right now you rarely see teachers conducting lessons that improve fluency. This exercise will help. Have fun! (My apologies ahead of time, I did not input ALL the Spanish punctuation. ) Letras de la canción: Estoy Enamorado Una nueva mañana me levante pensando en todas las cosas lindas que hemos hecho W con Yandel. Pensando en tu olor, tu piel Para mi lo eres todo Quisiera estar siempre a tu lado Huir de todo mal (de todo mal) De tu cuerpo un esclavo Y creo que te he demostrado que Estoy enamorado (Simplemente) Te lo quiero confesar (Te lo queria decir) Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte (Rumba) Estoy enamorado Te lo quiero confesar Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote (Todo el tiempo) nunca voy a soltarte Escucha, W Queria progreso a la calle le dio un receso Mi voz tenia peso como un corazon preso Ella me libro de todo mal con tan solo un beso Ha sido un proceso pero el amor ya no da regreso Yo sigo a su lado, su amor es sagrado Tengo muy claro del amor el significado Ella tiene regaño conmigo ha batallado Vamos soldado nos hemos ayudado Estoy enamorado (Escuchame bien) Te lo quiero confesar (Yo te lo queria decir) Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte (Princesa) Estoy enamorado Te lo quiero confesar Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte (Ey Doble!) Ella tiene la sustancia de la perseverancia Tengo amor en abundancia Princesa tu has cambiado mi arrogancia Veinticinco problemas, cuarenta circunstancias Y yo te quiero decir, que tu cuerpo quiero consumir sin disumir, ella me empieza a dirigir Me toca y yo me empiezo a derretir (Tiene magia) Eres la mujer de mi vida lo tengo que admitir Señores Yandel! Quisiera estar siempre a tu lado Huir de todo mal (Solo quiero que dios me de la oportunidad) De tu cuerpo un esclavo Y creo que te he demostrado que Estoy enamorado (Presta atencion) Te lo quiero confesar (W, Yandel) Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte Estoy enamorado Te lo quiero confesar (W&Y Records) Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte eh Evidentemente tiene magia Tiene la llave de mi corazon en sus manos Quienes son? W, Yandel Victor ‘El Nazi’, Nesty El Profesor Gomez, W&Y Records Señora te lo tengo que decir Escucha bien Quisiera estar siempre a tu lado Huir de todo mal (de todo mal) De tu cuerpo un esclavo Y creo que te he demostrado que Estoy enamorado Te lo quiero confesar Totalmente ilusionado Me la paso pensandote nunca voy a soltarte Hope you enjoyed the song and keep returning to my blog for more Spanish fluency tips!
If there’s one area I wish I could go back in time and work on more it would be listening comprehension. I would place a bigger emphasis on listening comprehension. It’s easy to learn new words if you practice and study enough, it’s easy to learn to read and write if you practice enough, but understanding the spoken word is more difficult. You do not have as much control over what is being said or how it’s pronounced. Native speakers of any language take short cuts to speak faster. They slur words or partially pronounce them. We do the same in English. With all that being said there are many different ways to invest your time to improve your ear’s ability to pick up spoken Spanish. It does not matter what skill or experience level you are, any of these can either help you create a good base of knowledge of pronunciation or assist you in understanding the overall message when someone is speaking. Or if you have spoken Spanish for years this list can help you continue to improve. I still do many of these myself to get better or to maintain my skills. Here are my current top 10.
10. Radio DJs: I’m referring specifically to when there are at least two of them talking to each other between the songs. This is a great way to hear random conversations. Random is good because you cannot predict what will be said, this forces you to rely on your ear.
9. Radio Talk Shows: when broadcasters or DJs invite a special guest onto their show who in turn answer calls from listeners this is a great way to hear more interactions. You can learn more Spanish vocabulary related to specific topics. This is another simple and easily-accessible way to invest your time into improving your listening comprehension.
8. Spanish Songs with Lyrics: Youtube has a treasure chest full of songs that show the lyrics. Many fans upload the song and create their own slide show presentation. First watch the video and read the words many times until you get familiar with all the words. Then listen to the song over and over without the help of the lyrics. This way you do not rely on reading the words, eliminate the visual aid. Check on reggaeton, Spanish pop, salsa or bachata songs.
7. Radio Commercials: Humorous, serious, jingles, real-life situations and more. Spanish commercials on the radio are fun to listen to and will help you to understand the overall message. Even if you just understand a few words you will probably understand what the product or service is that is being promoted. Just turn on your radio while you are driving, listen to the music and to the commercials in between.
6. TV Commercials: The combination of visual aids and audio provide a complete way of learning new words, phrases and above all another way to force you to try to understand what the message is. You will have a much easier time understanding TV commercials versus radio commercials, but I do recommend both.
5. Children’s TV Shows/ DVDs: The simpler, less deep content is easier to follow and refreshing. Many shows use many visual aids and display words with the intention of teaching Latin children how to learn Spanish. For anyone starting out learning Spanish this would the number one way to improve Spanish listening comprehension. This method also serves as a way to learn new vocabulary and how to construct sentences.
4. Comedy Shows: There’s a slew of them. I admit I haven’t watched any in a long while, but they are another less intense, laid back way to practice. Many jokes will go right over your head, but you will pick up more than you think. It’s a great way to learn a bit about the Latin culture to get a little glimpse on their sense of humor. Just be aware some of the humor is a little over the top.
3. Game Shows: I give an edge to game shows over comedy shows because there is more dialogue and less staged situations. Real life, everyday people participate in the show and share many random comments. The shows typically mix in commercials and sales pitches which adds to the variety of topics appearing on the shows.
2. Science and Nature Shows: I place this second simply as a preference. I enjoy watching them. There is a lot of dialogue which enhances your vocabulary. The game shows and comedy shows are great but they can be so goofy that I can only watch for a little bit. Nature shows on the other hand are more interesting to me and I don’t tend to get distracted like I do with the other types of shows.
1. The News: Local news, international or national news. Hands down the best way that tops this list. These are the best types of shows to improve Spanish listening comprehension, vocabulary and grammar. You get it all, visual aids, dialogue, current events for cultural orientation and many different types of accents. Tune into different channels to mix up the stories and accents. You will find that some accents are easier to understand do to their clarity of speech.
Skill Level: All Levels
Listening skills are every important when learning another language. You can learn how to speak by predominantly studying the written language, but focusing too much on the written language can cause problems when someone is speaking to you. Sure you will still be able to understand them fairly well, but in the end if you understand what someone says then you can communicate your message even with basic Spanish sentences.
If I had to learn all over again I would have taken more time practicing with music. Nowadays with the internet it is very easy to access good materials to help you practice. The song I have chosen here has a good, catchy chorus and is upbeat. It’s currently being played often a lot on the radio stations in Orlando. Keep in mind you must listen to songs over and over again before you can effortlessly comprehend the lyrics. In Spanish lyrics are referred to as “letras”. So if you want to find a song’s “letras” you could either do a search like “bailando por ahi con letras” or simply go to my favorite site for lyrics www.musica.com.
So here is how we are going to approach and complete this exercise…
INSTRUCTIONS: Spanish Listening Skills Exercise
I. Objective. Improve your ability to hear and comprehend Spanish without translating to English.
II. Goal. Learn and memorize phrases and words by hearing them.
1. Listen to song 3x- do NOT look at lyrics.
2. Listen to song 3x- look at lyrics.
3. Listen to song 2x- look at lyrics, repeat phrases, sentences or words from list.
4. Listen to song 2x- do NOT look at lyrics, repeat phrases and words from list.
(Download and print the Spanish listening exercise for this post.)
First, read the instructions above then click on the video link below. The video is a lyric slideshow. Listen to the song and follow along with the words. You can print off the complete lyrics down below as well, I got them from the “letras completas” shown link below. You will learn the song’s chorus and so I have highlighted the chorus in the printed version throughout the song.
I like this song below for this exercise because besides sounding good the chorus is catchy and simple to learn. Music is a great way to allow Spanish to be ingrained in our minds without having to translate or depend too much on the written words. My favorite website for Spanish-song lyrics is www.musica.com. They are completed by volunteers on the site and sometimes are not completely accurate, but they are more than sufficient to help us improve our Spanish listening skills.
BAILANDO POR AHÍ
Letras completes (lyrics): http://www.musica.com/letras.asp?letra=1932054
Ayer la vi bailando por ahí con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid.
Yesterday I saw her dancing there with her friends in a street in Madrid.
Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
(She was) as beautiful like the day I met her. (Those) were happiest days for me.
BAILANDO POR AHÍ
(Lyrics from www.musica.com Meant only for educative purposes.)
(Ayer la vi)
Ayer la vi desde hace mucho tiempo y..
( con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid)
Me arrepiento tanto de haberte dicho adiós
( fueron los días más felices para mí )
Ayer la vi bailando por ahí
Con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid
Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
Fueron los días más felices para mí
Ayer la vi bailando por ahí
Con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid
Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
Fueron los días más felices para mí ‘
Ella es loca por ritmo latino
Se prende en la pista bailando conmigo
El aroma, se toca, me mira
Y yo electrónicamente encendido
No me atrevo oh oh a decirle na’ ah
Me hago el duro pidiendo una copa
Sentado en la barra del bar ah ah
Me acerco a su lado, le cojo el pelo
Le canto canciones al oído
Tu quisieras una cita conmigo
Te sigo en el Twitter si quieres te escribo
De repente tra tra llegó su novio ya ah
Si no la vas a cuidar échate pa’atras tra
( Ayer la vi)
Es inevitable verla, una pareja se pierde en la rutina
Las cosas cotidianas de la vida
Y por eso deberías regalarle
cada día una sonrisa a tu bebé
- Letras De Don Omar Feat. Akon – Island (burlaomusicrd.wordpress.com)