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October 7, 2021

This week in STU:

  • Panel Responses: Can teachers use music to help students learn new vocabulary?
  • New on Youtube: Practicing the diphthong “IE” & Using “haber” to ask and answer questions
  • Pronunciation Practice: A resource from Mar to help students learn correct pronunciation of 111 of the most common Spanish words.

Panel Response

Using music to learn new vocabulary

Can music be used to help students increase their vocabulary in their target language? How do you music with your class to improve reading skills?

Mar Clavijo

Finding music that uses an appropriate type of language, so the letter should contain common words that are not too difficult or too easy for students’ current level. At first, they may prefer songs that tell a story to make song lyrics easier to understand and visualize; if students are at beginner level they can even learn with nursery rhymes or Disney movies songs. If they are in a level in which they can handle pop music, then, in time, they will be able to switch to other genres: since pop music tends to be about love and romance, it tends to have a lot of repeating vocabulary; whenever they’re ready to switch, more diverse genres can be tried to build a larger vocabulary, not without first having assumed the entire content of the lyrics. In addition to assimilating the content, it is also important that students frequently review the vocabulary by breaking down the song lyrics, word by word, and try to master each word to make it part of their vocabulary. After a while, students could find that they are beginning to memorize the song, so they can try to remember it without looking at the lyrics; at this point, they should be able to add those words to their everyday vocabulary.

Regarding teaching methods, a nice way to use it in class is as Eady and Wilson (2004) suggest: activities using word cards featuring favorite song lyrics and building new sentences or guessing first lines of songs. Then teachers provide word configuration clues, and create crossword puzzles in which entries are words in song titles’.
Li, X., & Brand, M. (2009). Effectiveness of music on vocabulary acquisition, language usage, and meaning for mainland Chinese ESL learners. Contributions to music education, 73-84.


Songs say a lot about the culture and the language variant of their singers. Music in Spanish presents a variety of styles depending on the country where it comes from. Whether the student wants to learn vocabulary for beginners or slangs from a certain country, songs are an excellent learning tool, best of all, the student assimilates it in their own way, as many times as they want to listen to the song they want per day. .

I always make sure I know the type of music my students prefer. In some cases they are already listening to songs by a specific singer. In advance, I analyze the lyrics of the song to be played in class and make a list of useful words and phrases that my students need to learn for everyday communication. In the classroom, before listening to the song, we review the vocabulary of the song with Speakable so that you have a better idea of ​​what the lyrics communicate. After listening to it once or twice, we do another activity with Speakable using the same vocabulary to check if they understood the words correctly. We also analyze song lyrics to find synonyms, antonyms, or new useful verbs.

New on Youtube

Casa Spanish created a video to help students practice the pronunciation of the diphthong “IE”.

Anna with Butterfly Spanish walks students through how to ask and answer questions using the “haber”

Pronunciation Practice
Survival Kit: Spanish pronunciation practice

Mar Clavijo (Bogotá, Colombia) created a survival kit to help new Spanish students learn to pronounce 111 of the most common Spanish words. For each word she recorded a clear pronunciation. She also added an image that shows syllable breaking and highlights the stress.