Learning Spanish Language and Culture Through Music3 min read

Learning Spanish Language and Culture Through Music

One of the best ways to practice a new language is through music. It helps a ton with vocabulary building, accent practice, and listening skills. The more you listen, the more it will help in ways you didn’t even realize it would.

One benefit I’ve found in learning Spanish through music, is that it’s easier to pick the slang than it would be in a formal, educational setting. Since I study Spanish at the college level, most of the conversations I have in the language are rather academic. Most music is the exact opposite. I’ve looked up lyrics to numerous songs just to find out that I already know what the words mean; they were just pronouncing them differently than I’m used to, because music is an informal setting.

Not to mention the culture. Music is a huge part of every culture around the world, and there is certainly no shortage of styles of Latino music. I mean, there are around 27 Spanish-speaking countries depending on how you count them, each with their own history and culture to share through some rocking tunes. Granted, not all Spanish-speaking countries are in Latin America, but my point still stands.

If you’re hesitant to start listening to songs in languages you don’t understand at all, that’s completely reasonable. Sometimes you’re just not interested if you don’t figure out what that singer is talking about. So maybe it’d be easier for you to start listening to some bilingual artists. Heck, you probably know quite a few already: Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Camila Cabello (did you know there’s a Spanish version of Havana?),

And finally, I must admit, there are some downsides to everything. So here is a short yet comprehensive list of all the cons of listening to Latino music:

  • None
  • Nada

To get you started, here are some suggestions:

Jesse y Joy, Mexican pop (bilingual). This sibling duo grew up in Mexico city with a Mexican father and an American mother. Most of their music has been released in Spanish, but in 2016 they began releasing English translations of their biggest hits (including “¡Corre!” / “Run” and “Dueles” / “Helpless”) as well as bilingual singles including “More Than Amigos” and “Mañana es Too Late feat. J. Balvin”.

Ana Tijoux, Chilean pop/rap. Born in France to Chilean parents, Tijoux spent most of her childhood in Paris. She began her musical career in her late teens/early 20s with several different musical groups, most notably Makiza which was active from 1997 to 2006. Now a solo artist, Tijoux has crossed into the Latino Pop genre but uses her signature indie and rap styles in her music.

Efecto Pasillo, Spanish alternative/rock. Formed in 2007 in the Canary Islands, Efecto Pasillo didn’t release their self-titled debut album until 2010. That year, the band was selected by Hombres G to open on their tour and later won the “Break Out Band of the Year” award in Gran Canaria.

CNCO, Latin Pop/Urban/Reggaeton (bilingual). CNCO is a Latin American boy band consisting of five singers from different national backgrounds. They have familial and cultural ties to the United States, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Cuba. Their music is mostly in Spanish, with occasional verses and lines in English.

Gente de Zona, Cuban Urbana & Reggaeton. This group has been active since 2000, but didn’t achieve international recognition until their collaboration with Enrique Iglesias on the single “Bailando”. Since then, Randy Malcolm and Alexander Delgado have become the first Cuban duo to reach the Hot Latin Songs chart on Billboard and have made a name of their own enough to do their first US tour in 2017.

Do you already listen to music in another language? What language? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?

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