“Calaverita” by La Santa Cecilia: Día de muertos themed song activity

calaverita-activity-imageThis song activity is great for a Día de muertos unit! Also, for my more advanced students in a Spanish Conversation and Composition course, I used this activity together with the story “El otro círculo” by Luis R. Santos (as featured in our textbook, Revista). We compared our analyses of both the story and the song to discuss different cultural perspectives about death presented through literature, art, music, etc.

Click here for  the free PDF activity sheet

Enjoy the video below!

As always, I would love to hear about it in the comments if you use this activity in your classroom!

Here are some links to my other Día de muertos themed activities:

Actividad con infografías: Los comparativos – Día de los muertos versus Halloween
Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos” con actividad de escritura para practicar el pretérito vs. imperfecto

“Por” vs. “Para” con dos canciones

Vamos a analizar un ejemplo de “por” y uno de “para” en los coros de dos canciones populares.

Canción 1: “Por una mujer” de Luis Fonsi

¿Qué expresa “por” en el coro de esta canción?

Todo se va,

todo se olvida,

las viejas heridas,

por una mujer.

Todo se va,

todo termina,

las malas rutinas,

por una mujer….¡por una mujer!

Se usa “por” para expresar una causa o razón.

El cantante cambia de una manera positiva por una mujer.

¿Cómo podemos interpretar “por una mujer” en inglés, según el contexto de esta canción?

because of a woman”


2. “Eres para mí” de Julieta Venegas

¿Qué expresa “para” en el coro de esta canción?

Eres para mí.

Me lo ha dicho el viento.

Eres para mí.

 Lo oigo todo el tiempo.

Eres para mí.

Yo soy para ti.

Se usa “para” para expresar un destinatario o beneficiario.

¿Cómo podemos interpretar “eres para mí” en inglés, según el contexto de esta canción?

You are for me,” o tal vez, “you are the one for me.”

Para lograr manejar “por” y “para” con precisión, hay que practicar MUCHO con diversos ejemplos. Hay que tener paciencia y mejorar poco a poco con la práctica contínua.

Haz clic aquí para ver otros ejemplos con “por” y “para.”

“La Gozadera” Song Activity (los países, las nacionalidades, las banderas)

la gozadera dancing flagThis activity is so fun! Students learn/practice Latin American country names, flags, and nationality terms while enjoying the upbeat song “La Gozadera.” You may choose to use only one part of this activity in your class, or all of them!

1. Hand out this activity sheet with the lyrics. (Click here for a free PDF). Instruct students to choose a country mentioned in the lyrics and draw the flag for that country.

(Click here for an answer key for the handout.)

2.Watch “La Gozadera” music video. As students watch the video, they should be listening out for their country to be mentioned. Each time their country is mentioned, they raise their flag.

3. Students complete the activity sheet by writing the nationality terms next to each country name.

4. Review answers and discuss lyrics and video.

5. Conversation: Students walk around the classroom with their flags to practice the following dialogue:

A: “¿De dónde eres?”

B: “Soy de    (país)   .”  -o- “Soy    (nacionalidad)   .”

Let me know if you try out this activity in your classroom! I´d love to know how it goes!

Also, we did this activity in my classroom to review nationality terms. I already introduced them using the song “Humano” by Lida Pimienta. Click here for my post about that including the lyrics video I made!

Canción: “Te abrazaré” Hello Seahorse! (El futuro)

hello seahorse!Hello Seahorse! is one of my favorite bands, and they have released their beautiful “Te abrazaré” just in time for this semester´s finals review time! See the PDF below for a cloze activity with the lyrics, a conversation prompt, and a short writing activity based on the song. The cloze activity is a great intro to review the future tense endings, while the ethereal music (may) inspire students for the following speaking and writing activities.

I am including a youtube video with the song below, but I would recommend listening to it on SoundCloud because you can read along with the comments other listeners have made! A great extension for the activity could be for students (or the class as a whole) to make comments in Spanish as well, adding another level of authentic language use to the activity! If you do interact with SoundCloud, let me know how it goes in the comments. I am really interested in using it with my students!

Hoja de actividades “Te abrazaré” (PDF)

Clave de respuestas “Te abrazaré” (PDF)

República Dominicana: Introductory culture presentation & activity packet

DR flag mapThe Dominican Republic holds a very special place in my heart, so I was giddy with excitement while I made this presentation to introduce my high school Spanish 1 students to Dominican culture! Please see the slideshow below (featuring many videos, made in Google drive) and free accompanying activity packet.

The activities include a beginning warm-up to activate background knowledge, content & vocabulary comprehension questions, a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast bachata & merengue, analyses of music videos to explore themes of Dominican culture, and a final discussion mini-essay.

I´d like to make a brief note about cultural presentations in general. Whenever I teach culture I do make an effort to make it as authentic as possible, but sometimes I find it quite challenging! How can I portray an entire culture in a few class sessions? Well, of course it’s not possible to cover everything. That’s why I emphasize that this is an introductory presentation and invite students to explore other themes further with questions and follow-up lessons and projects.

visa para un sueñoIt took our class one 90 minute class period (block scheduling) to cover the presentation and activity sheet (some students took the packet home to finish the final discussion question). My students were very engaged and full of questions, so I’d say it was a success!

One important topic that this presentation does not cover is the story of the Mirabal sisters and the Trujillo regime. We covered this topic later in a lesson based around the film adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies. Please follow this link to see my post about it with a free movie guide question packet!

We also watched the movie Pelotero. It’s a really fun movie, and we watched it as a reward in the last 20-30 minutes of a few class periods. Please follow this link for a post & free movie guide. (Coming soon!)

Here’s a link to the Activity Packet, and you can watch the presentation right here!

Any feedback is appreciated. Keep the comments coming! 🙂

Song activity: “Hoy desperté” – Kevin, Karla y la Banda (Spanish version of Katy Perry´s “Wide Awake”) (El pretérito)

Thanks to a friend and fellow Spanish teacher, I have found the music of Kevin, Karla y la Banda (KKLB). They have dozens of OUTSTANDING Spanish versions of today´s top pop songs. They cover many artists that our students are listening to, such as Taylor Swift,  Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, One Direction, Selena Gomez, etc. Since our students are already familiar with the tune and basic messages of the songs, it will facilitate comprehension of the lyrics in Spanish! For this reason, I am planning to make several activities with KKLB songs. Here´s the first one! Below you will find links to an activity sheet and answer key for this excellent rendition of Katy Perry´s “Wide Awake” for practicing the preterit. Also, I included the following introductory explanation to use the message of the song to help students understand why the verbs are in the preterit:

“In this song, the singer declares that she has “woken up.” She has decided to put an end to a difficult period in her life and to move on.

All of the preterit verbs in the song express actions that were completed at a specific point in the past.”

Hoja de actividades: “Hoy desperté” (PDF)

Clave de respuestas: “Hoy desperté” (PDF)

Update: Check out Profesora Hanson’s blog for another post about KKLB & activity sheet for the song “Siempre supe” (cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble)!

Song activity: “Azul” – Natalia Lafourcade – El subjuntivo

I love this song and video!!! It is so fun and really speaks to my inner child.  See below for a free PDF worksheet and answer key for practicing with the subjunctive (and more).

Comments and suggestions welcome and appreciated!

Hoja de actividades: “Azul” – Natalia Lafourcade

Clave de respuestas: “Azul” – Natalia Lafourcade

Update! I just found this video on Youtube that shows another brilliant way to use this song in class! Posted by Youtube username Connor Nebesky, it seems that students have illustrated each line in the song. ¡Me encanta!

Another update! This video was made by one of Sra. Jacob’s students (Blog: Cultura y Civilización). She uses this song in her “Los miedos y las leyendas” unit. Visit her blogpost here for lots of great resources and ideas!

Creative-writing song activity: “Esta soy yo” – Francisca Valenzuela (Ser, Descripciones)

This fun, creative music video by Chilean singer-songwriter Francisca Valenzuela, who has been dubbed “la princesa del rock chileno,” is sure to be a hit with your students! Here you will find a free PDF worksheet with which your students can get creative as well! I would recommend this activity for beginner and intermediate-beginner levels. It could be used at the beginning of the semester, which from my experience usually features a unit on the verb ser and descriptions. The activity begins with simply watching the video. I show it twice (or three times if requested) to give the students time to both enjoy the video and follow along with the lyrics, which are provided on the worksheet. As you can see, the lyrics have plenty of cognates, and I´ve provided translations of some other words verse by verse. After discussing the video and lyrics, the students fill out the bottom part of the worksheet in which they rewrite the first verse to describe their own personality. Special attention is drawn to agreement between possessive adjectives and the nouns they describe.

One thing to mention in the class discussion is that the singer´s description of herself is quite candid and includes some negative traits. She states that she feels she needs to change, while in the end we hear that the recipient of the song does not think she needs to change at all. Here we find the message of the song, that it is dedicated to someone who loves the singer for just who she is, the good and the bad. Students may want to take this angle to writing their own verses, but it´s just one option. Any sort of description will be fine!

As always, feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions. I love getting comments! Also, if you try this activity in your class I´d love to know how it goes!

Hoja de actividades: “Esta soy yo” – Francisca Valenzuela

Note: Currently on the video there is a pop-up annotation that takes you to another music video for the song “Buen Soldado.” Just a heads up, that video is not school-appropriate!

Here’s a gallery of some examples of my students’ work. We did this activity on the second day of class, so while checking them I got to know a little bit of each student’s personality. The students participated really well, and we got the semester off to a great start!

El pase de diapositivas requiere JavaScript.

“¿A quién le importa?” – Alaska y Dinarama (Los pronombres de objeto directo e indirecto)


Hoja de actividades: “¿A quién le importa?” (PDF)

Clave de respuestas: “¿A quién le importa?” (PDF)

Tasked-Based Cultural Enrichment Song Activity: “Latinoamérica” – Calle 13

The lyrics to the song “Latinoamérica” by the Puerto Rican musical duo Calle 13 are replete with cultural and historical references, so much so that this song could inspire a semester´s worth of classroom discussion! Furthermore, the music video [see below] is a sequence of stunningly beautiful clips depicting the people and land of Latin America. This blog post describes how I use this song as the base of a task-based cultural enrichment activity with my students and provides you with the materials to do so as well. This activity would go over best with intermediate-advanced, advanced, and heritage learners.

This pdf document: PDF “Latinoamérica” Lyrics contains a handout with the lyrics to the song. There are 7 verses which are underlined, in bold, and color-coded. First watch the video as a class and ask the students their thoughts. I begin discussion by asking for students’ interpretations of the chorus. Now the task-based part. The selected color-coded verses are seven different references to Latin American culture and/or history, as follows:

  • “el amor en los tiempos del cólera” – The novel by Gabriel García Márquez. You may have students research just this novel, or a more broader presentation on the autor and his works.
  • soy la fotografía de un desaparecido” – Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo who began their protest during the Guerra Sucia (1976 – 1983) in Argentina in hopes of finding their children, who the Argentine government claimed had “disappeared.” These brave women continue their protest to this day. Their white shawls have become a symbol for the fight for human rights, the denunciation of the barbarities committed during the many dictatorships of Latin America, and the remembrance of all those who suffered during such times of political injustice.
  • “soy Maradona contra Inglaterra anotándote dos goles” – The 1986 World Cup. Follow link for more information: Info about 1986 World Cup
  • “la espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera” – The Andes Mountains – Students can research not only the mountains themselves, but also the ways of life of the people who inhabit this región.
  • “Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada” – “Poema XX” de Pablo Neruda
  • Haciendo rituales de agua bendita.
    El viento que peina mi cabello.
    Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello. – Religions practiced in Latin America. Not only Catholicism, but also syncretic religions such as Santería.
  • “La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido” – Operación Condor

Divide the class into 7 groups and have each group pick a selected verse to research and present to the class. I give my students one class period to work on this in class in the computer lab as well as additional days outside of class to prepare the presentation. The students use Powerpoint or Prezi to create a visual.

This is my first blog post of this nature, so I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions. For now, enjoy this breath-taking music video!

[UPDATE]: I would like to give a huge thank you to all of you who have commented! I really appreciate your feedback, and your suggestions have helped me to greatly improve this activity! The activity sheet is now in its third version.