Are you studying Spanish and want a fresh way to learn?
Listen to some of the following catchy Spanish songs and you’ll give your language skills a huge boost while hardly feeling like you’re studying at all.
Here are just a few of the benefits you'll find when you listen to music in Spanish…
You Strengthen Your Vocabulary and Bolster Grammar
Listening to songs in Spanish can massively improve your vocabulary and grammar, because you’ll have a context for the new words and sentences you’re learning; you’re far more likely to remember words if you learn them in a song rather than in a long vocabulary list.
Think about it. When you were a preschooler, would you have memorized the alphabet as quickly as you did if you had only heard it as spoken dictation rather than as a song? Or what about the names of the notes in a scale? If you’re a native English speaker, I bet you can’t even think the words “doe, a deer, a female deer” without automatically humming the next line of the song in your head. This simple song is tattooed in your memory. And there’s no reason why you can’t extend this memory technique to more complex vocabulary and grammar, by listening to songs in a foreign language.
You Get an Ear for the Language
Spanish songs can give your listening comprehension skills a serious upgrade. I don’t know many language learners who enjoy listening to the same spoken conversation again and again, but virtually everyone I know has some favourite songs that they could play over and over all day! After only a couple of repetitions of a good Spanish song, you’ll get an ear for the sounds, and you can’t help but get the song stuck in your head. Follow along with the lyrics while you listen, and you’ll make the connection from the sounds to the words. Your comprehension will skyrocket.
For the list below, I made sure to choose songs that aren’t sung too quickly (contrary to the lightning-fast speed of everyday speech!), so you don’t have to start at a level that’s too difficult too soon. Once you get an ear for these songs, go ahead and move on to faster or more complex songs so you don’t lose momentum in your listening comprehension progress.
You’ll Learn to Appreciate the Art of Other Cultures
When you get to know the music of another culture, you get to know the culture itself. You understand the type of art that the people enjoy, and the lyrics teach you popular colloquial expressions and subtle turns of phrase that are closely linked to the values and heritage of that culture.
Your favourite songs right now are probably in your native language, but I’ve put together a diverse collection of songs from all over the Spanish-speaking world that I’m sure you’ll like at least one of.
If you don’t find the perfect song for you below, check out the links at the end to access hundreds of other songs. Don’t give up! It probably took you a while to find songs that you love in your native language, so listen to a variety of Spanish songs in order to find some that you’ll love just as much.
There’s always room for more variety in your study habits. So if you haven’t listened to music in Spanish during your studies so far, then now’s the time to change up your routine and have some fun in the process.
1. Agua by Jarabe de Palo
For beginner Spanish learners, there’s no better song to start with than this. This slow, clearly sung tune was made into a YouTube video specifically to help learners of Spanish improve their vocabulary. Not only do the Spanish and English subtitles appear as the song is sung, but the words are colour coded so you can match each Spanish word to its corresponding English word, and the infinitive of the main verb in each sentence is shown so you’ll understand the conjugation!
2. Que Será de Ti by Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos is a Brazilian singer who has recorded many songs in Spanish (among several other languages!) and is known as the King of Latin Music. This slow and moving song about lost love would be remarkably easy to understand even without the bilingual subtitles, but the subtitles do help during the more poetic parts. Many of the key phrases are repeated throughout the song, helping them stick in your memory better.
3. Yo te amo by Chayanne
A timeless love ballad by Puerto Rican singer Chayanne, this song is easy to close your eyes to and sway back and forth with the nostalgic melody. But don’t get so into it that you forget to follow along to the bilingual subtitles while you listen!
4. No me resignaré by Binomio de Oro de América
This song is a nice example of Vallenato, a popular folk music style from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. This moderate-tempo love song by Binomio de Oro de América, a group whose popularity has spread outside Colombia to many parts of Latin America, has a pleasant rhythm that you can’t help moving to. The lyrics are also packed with the future tense, giving you lots of practice with that verb conjugation. Be sure to listen for the three classic Vallenato instruments played throughout: the accordion, the guacharaca, and the caja vallenata.
5. Carito by Carlos Vives
I dare you not to have this song stuck in your head after the first listen! With a lively tempo and endearing storyline, this is a wonderful music video to sing (and dance!) along to again and again. It’s an adorable song about a schoolboy’s crush on his American English teacher, Carito. Don’t be intimidated by the quick tempo; Vives actually sings very clearly, and there are bilingual subtitles to help you along. You even get a bit of vocabulary in there about school, teaching and learning.
6. Rio Que Va Lejos by Los Fronterizos
I love listening to traditional folk music from different countries. Instead of just being about love or loss like many pop songs, folk music is about the country itself and the land that the people live on. This beautiful Argentinian folk song evokes images of an old river, cold winds, and the coming of winter (yes, winters are cold and snowy in Argentina!).
7. Olvido by Amaral
Amaral is a very popular music group from Spain that manages to fuse together several different Spanish and Latin music styles into truly memorable works of art. This song, with its unusual rhythm and haunting key, is captivating to the point where you’ll physically feel the silence when the song ends. It’s also an exceptionally useful song for new Spanish learners because the lyrics, while poetic and very poignant, are actually made up of quite simple vocabulary that beginners can easily learn.
8. Manos al Aire by Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado is a hugely successful singer, topping charts all over the world and winning both American and Latin Grammys, but did you know that she’s originally from Canada? While most of her songs are in English, this song from her debut Spanish album was the first original Spanish song by a North American to hit #1 on the Latin Billboard chart. And for good reason! It’s a foot-tapping pop song with a strong beat, but it’s not sung quickly at all, giving you a chance to catch all of the lyrics with ease. What I especially like about this song is all of the Spanish colloquialisms it contains, so you can practice listening to everyday, informal sentence patterns.
9. Muñeca de Trapo by La Oreja de Van Gogh
Another hugely popular music group from Spain, La Oreja de Van Gogh won a Latin Grammy in 2006 for best pop album for their album “Guapa”. This song, which translates as “Rag Doll”, is the first single from that album. The lyrics are a bit more advanced than the other songs in this list, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and give it a try anyway. It’s such a beautiful song that it’s definitely worth it.
10. Muelle de San Blas by Maná
This song is based on the tragic, true story of Rebeca Méndez Jiménez, a woman who, local legend has it, waited for 41 years at the pier in San Blas, Mexico, for her betrothed to return from a fishing expedition. She was known locally (and somewhat cruelly) as “la loca de San Blas”, or “the madwoman of San Blas”. Because the lyrics are told naturally, like a story, and are paired with a vibrant yet sorrowful melody, this is a song that you won’t easily forget.
Even More Ways to Listen to Music in Spanish
I made this list to give you a taste of some of the types of Spanish music that are out there for you to practice with. But there are so many more! Try these links to find hundreds more Spanish songs to sing, dance with, and most importantly, learn to.
- Rockalingua: A huge collection of free Spanish music to help kids learn the language. The songs cover a wide range of common categories, including daily routines, numbers, school-related vocabulary, kinship terms, and much more.
- Spotify for iOS and Android: Get instant access to some of the best Spanish songs in the world with this free mobile app.
- Songs for Teaching – the most comprehensive online Spanish music database that I’ve found to date! There’s a different song list for each level of difficulty, from children’s songs to beginner and intermediate levels, all the way to advanced songs for grammar practice and even rap songs! There are nearly 300 songs in total, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find loads of songs that you’ll love listening to again and again.
Do you have any favourite Spanish songs that you listen to for vocabulary and grammar practice? Tell me about them in the comments!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.