Spanish Learning Scenario:
La musica popular

Author: Lynn Basdeo & Renée Wooten
Level: Novice

Students study popular music of Spanish-speaking countries. They demonstrate an understanding of the music created by pop musicians, use technology resources to connect to real-life pop music and culture, communicate at the novice level both verbally and in written form about music, compare U.S. music to that enjoyed by Spanish speakers around the world, and discover opportunities to appreciate Spanish music performed in or near their community.

ACTIVITY SET 1: Una comparación cultural de música
To activate their background knowledge of the topic, students use a Venn Diagram to brainstorm ideas and opinions comparing and contrasting U.S. pop music and artists with those of Spanish-speaking countries with whom they are familiar. Likely topics include the significance of pop music in our daily lives, media focus on certain age groups, the right to freedom of expression, and music videos.

ACTIVITY SET 2: Mi artista preferida
Students select a Spanish pop artist to study (e.g., Shakira, Luis Miguel, Ricky Martin, and Enrique Iglesias). The students then conduct research using the Internet or magazines such as People en Español to find biographical information on the selected artist. They note information such as age, physical characteristics, family information, hometown, likes and dislikes, etc. Afterwards, they write a given number of sentences in Spanish to summarize what they’ve understood about the artist.

ACTIVITY SET 3: Una entrevista
Students locate and review interviews with Hispanic pop musicians in Spanish-language magazines or newspapers. Afterwards, using the interviews they’ve read as a guide, students plan an interview with the artist selected in Activity 2 and create a number of questions that are shared with classmates through peer-editing. Students then work in pairs to practice simple face-to-face communication by asking each other their interview questions and formulating simple responses.

ACTIVITY SET 4: El/La aficionado/a
Students locate a fan club web site for their chosen artist. (If no site exists, students select alternate artists for this activity.) They compose a fan mail letter in Spanish that includes the questions written in Activity 3 and memorized expressions such as me gusta, me interesa, me da placer, etc. Students attempt to send the letter via the Internet, and a copy of the letter is also submitted as a writing assessment.

ACTIVITY SET 5: Repaso musical
In the role of music critic, students select a favorite Spanish-language CD to review. They create a T-chart to state both positive and negative attributes of the selected work, a good opportunity to review familiar descriptive adjectives and learn new ones. Students then participate in a critic’s round-table forum where they share opinions of their chosen artist in Spanish using learned expressions. As a follow-up to the forum, students create a print advertisement to sell the chosen artist’s newest musical material citing the positive aspects of the work. They draw, paint, or use computer generated art and graphics to create posters and use words and phrases learned through their research to “plug” the CD or song. The posters are then displayed in the classroom or around the school.

ACTIVITY SET 6: Canción mía
Spanish-language songs can be used in a variety of ways throughout the scenario to have students practice select grammatical structures and vocabulary. Lyrics to a popular Hispanic song can be used to create a modified cloze procedure focused on the desired structures or lexical items, or students can be asked to find examples of structures (e.g., imperfecto/pretérito) in the lyrics provided. Using songs with simple lyrics, students can compose original verses that incorporate currently studied structures/vocabulary.

ACTIVITY SET 7: Programa de premios musicales
In this activity, the class presents its own music awards show. Students place their posters in a common area, each with an assigned number for voting purposes. Ballots are prepared and students vote for their favorite artists in a variety of categories such as the following: Best CD, Best Song, Best Video Performance, Best Group, Most Beautiful, Most Handsome, Most Original, Most Interesting/Different, Best for Teens, Best Male Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Dance Song or Album, Best Romantic Song, Best Advertisement, and Best CD Cover. (Students may also have some creative award categories of their own!)

The class hosts the Spanish Pop Awards after votes are tallied. Students can choose one of several roles: the masters/mistresses of ceremony who introduce the presenters; the presenters who read the nominees and announce the winners; the winners who go to the “stage” on behalf of the artist they represent to receive the award and make an acceptance speech; the entertainers who have worked individually or in a group to present a (lip-synched) pop song by a chosen artist; the videographers who record the proceedings and produce a video from it; or the director(s) who organizes the production. Costumes and props are encouraged, and videos are shared with other classes or the school.

ACTIVITY SET 8: Música en mi vecindad
Students check local resources (newspapers, clubs, organizations) and present to the student body (via the announcements, school newspaper, newsletter, etc.) information on upcoming local musical events associated with the Spanish-speaking community.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Influence of Language & Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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  • Internet access for research
  • Video camera and tape, costumes, props
  • Spanish-language CD’s and cassettes
  • Spanish magazines (online or print versions)

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met

Communication: Interpersonal mode is used as students participate in a group discussion. Interpretive mode is used when students research information in Spanish using the Internet, magazines, newspapers. Presentational mode is used as students present information and convey short messages relating to a favorite Hispanic pop artist.

: Students engage in activities to raise awareness and understanding of music and performers in Spanish.

: Students use computer resources such as the Internet, newspapers, and magazines to gain access to Spanish-language information on pop musicians. They expand their knowledge of the field of music.

: Students compare the Spanish and English languages as they study lyrics to popular Spanish-language music. They compare Hispanic and American cultural products (music), and
they come to understand the influence of Spanish pop music on the U.S. music scene.

: Students research a variety of opportunities to appreciate Spanish music in the local community and share that information with the student body, parents, and/or families. They show evidence of becoming lifelong learners and of using Spanish for personal enrichment when they continue to listen to Spanish-language pop music and attend musical events.

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Expansion Ideas

  • Share Spanish-language music with the school: Broadcast music researched via the school intercom before school, host a dance, have a karaoke contest, or purchase Spanish-language music magazines for the school library or the classroom.
  • Interview Spanish-speakers in the community about musical preferences.
  • Learn a traditional dance or go to a Spanish-language concert.
  • Contact a Spanish radio station for possible freebies like T-shirts and bumper stickers or to have their DJs as guest speakers.
  • Watch video shows on Spanish TV stations.
  • “Rewrite” a song with simple lyrics by changing the verb tense or substituting nouns and adjectives of students’ choice for the originals (depending on the song selected).

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  • People en Español
  • Scholastic Magazines
    - Ahora
    Vol. 5 No. 3 Enero/Febrero 1999 p.4-5 (Mecano)
    - Ahora Vol. 5 No. 1 Septiembre/Octubre 1998 p. 6-7 (Ricky Martin)
    - ¿Qué Tal?
    Vol. 33 No. 1 Septiembre/Octubre 1999 p. 4-5 (Enrique Iglesias)
    - ¿Qué Tal?
    Vol. 33 No. 4 Marzo 2000 p. 4-5 (Ricky Martin)
    - ¿Qué Tal?
    Vol. 33 No. 6 Mayo/Junio 2000 p. 4-5 (Jennifer López)


NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.


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