spanish games

Music for teaching Spanish to children

I recently wrote about a song to teach children the vowel sounds in Spanish. The song A,E,I,O,U is by Carolina Gómez, and she was kind enough to send me the CD. I always enjoy making connections with people who are creating quality Spanish-language materials for children.

Hands on Spanish has 20 songs and comes with the Spanish lyrics and an English translation of all the tracks. The lyrics and the translations are printed in alternating colors so that they are easy to read. The lively songs teach basic vocabulary and concepts like animals, numbers, colors, the alphabet, professions and days of the week. All of the songs are short, so that even little children do not get bored and can memorize them easily. The singers are native Spanish speakers with beautiful voices. Also, I really appreciate that the vocals are always easy to hear, with instruments contributing to the music but never interfering with the clarity of the words.

Children will love these songs because they are pretty and easy to sing, but educators and parents should be aware that this music is anything but simple. A wealth of knowledge and experience went into each of these songs. They are carefully crafted to use common and standard vocabulary, to repeat important structures, and to create a context within the song that teaches language by logical association.

For example, the song Yo quiero ser is about different professions. Using common structures in Spanish, this song teaches related words: Quiero ser un doctor para cuidar a los enfermos (I want to be a doctor to take care of sick people). In this line, children use the words doctor, cuidar and enfermos together. Another line goes Quiero ser piloto para volar en un avión (I want to be a pilot to fly in a plane). Again, piloto, volar and avión are words that should be learned together. These sentences are more than just combining related words, however. The structure of the sentence actually reinforces the meaning of vocabulary; Spanish uses para + an infinitive to express the concept of “in order to do something.”

Carolina Gómez has made careful choices like these for every song on the CD, but children will be completely unaware of the reason behind the rhyme. The songs are full of images, energy and movement. They are fun!

Several of the songs are adaptations of traditional children’s songs in Spanish and these provide an excellent cultural dimension to Hands on Spanish. For example, children in all Spanish-speaking countries sing ¡Que llueva! and El Chocolate. With an ingenious detail, Carolina manages to establish a context for El Chocolate. On the CD, the song begins with two simple questions: ¿Quieres desayunar? (Do you want to have breakfast?) ¿Chocolate caliente? (Hot chocolate?). Just like that, children have the image of morning, a caring adult and a child, and the ritual of beating chocolate into milk that starts the day for so many Spanish-speaking children.

This CD is particularly useful to teachers and homeschoolers, as it presents much of the content of beginning-level Spanish classes with enough variety to make it useful at higher levels too. Even the simplest song on the CD, Sí, no (Yes, No), which seems to be nothing but fun, teaches the correct pronunciation of the pure, clipped sounds of the Spanish vowels –something students of all ages and abilities should practice. Also, teachers can easily incorporate actions to reinforce the meaning of many of the songs.

Teaching Spanish to children is exciting, and satisfying. It is also a lot of work to provide quality exposure to the language. All of us have limited resources, and we have to invest our time and our money thoughtfully. The songs on Hands on Spanish will save teachers hours of time creating materials. In addition, the clear, standard native speaker pronunciation is exactly the Spanish that children need to hear. With the songs on Hands on Spanish, children really learn the language.

Music for teaching Spanish to children

Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of this product to be able to write the article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.


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