Music is the universal language of mankind, according to U.S. poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Studies have confirmed that claim by showing that music listeners can accurately discern the mood and function of a song without understanding the lyrics written in a foreign language.
Learners of Spanish, from novices to near fluent, are often encouraged to listen to Spanish songs. Some have lamented that, after many years of learning, they still cannot catch 100% of the lyrics of a song. To them, I have a few words of consolation.
- You can be fluent in a language and still not getting the complete lyrics. Some native Spanish speakers have attested to that fact. Also, from my personal experience, I consider myself fluent in English, an acquired language for me, but I still turn on the English subtitles when I watch a Hollywood movie. In fact, I have Chinese subtitles on when I am watching a Chinese movie too.
- You can still enjoy a song without fully understanding its lyrics (‘music is an universal language’). Learning is more effective if it is fun and entertaining.
- Even if you understand very little, undoubtedly you will recognize some words and phrases. The word corazón is hard to miss because it seems to appear in every single Spanish song. Listening to Spanish songs can acclimatize you to the sounds and tones of the language, both consciously and subconsciously. The joy is great as you realize that your listening comprehension improves over time.
So, join me in exploring the Spanish music landscape. Find the artists and songs you like to listen to.
Below are some of my favorites. Please let me know yours in the comments or in an email.
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