This post is actually my first time writing a blog ever in my life, so welcome me!
I will get straight to the point and talk about how I was able to improve my Spanish comprehension using Romeo Santos’ music and applied it to other music.
In the past, all forms of Spanish music sounded the same to me. I didn’t know the difference between Salsa and Bachata, etc, and I certainly didn’t understand the lyrics. I always loved the Rhythm of Spanish music however. After taking some Lessons in Spanish, and advanced with my Spanish, I was in search of any and everything that would help me get over that never ending “Hump”. I would always google “how to learn Spanish Fast” to find shortcuts but quickly realized it takes time, practice & persistence. Anyway, I turned to music and started to focus more on using it as a learning tool. Programs where I had to sit down for hours, stare and click pictures on a computer screen weren’t cutting anymore, I would literally fall asleep.
I first asked myself, “hmm, what should I listen to? who should I listen to?”.
I ended up purchasing a compilation that featured a bunch of classic Bachata Music & Artists, It was called, “DJ Amo Presents: Bachata Classics“, I will write a blog about some of the songs on there in the future, since many are so dear to me now. I figured at the time, if I was going to start learning through music, I might as well listen to the best of the best.
I listened the crap out of it, but wasn’t really able to sing along to those very passionate sounding verses, I didn’t know what they were saying but felt the passion & energy. After a while, I started to get familiar with the Choruses and the beats, I slowly started to differentiate the songs, but I still didn’t understand much, maybe about 2-5% percent, which is rather embarrassing.
At the beginning of my Language Learning Journey, I came across blogs where people would give advice saying, “All you have to do is close your eyes and listen and you will understand“. People learn differently, so that might work for some, but for me and most, listening that way lead to pure frustration. I didn’t want to be one of those that sang along, hum each verse and didn’t understand the lyrics.
BTW, This is the song below I’ve highlighted in the screen-shots if you are curious. Llévame Contigo by Romeo Santos.
I needed the lyrics to the songs, I wanted it in both Languages, English and Spanish so that it made sense. It’s hard to close my eyes and listen, learn and appreciate, when I don’t have no idea what is being said. To make a long story short, I was able to learn a lot these classic songs down to line. I was able to sing along to many of them and for the most part, understand the lyrics, it got to a point were I understood about 70% of all the songs, which is a very high percentage. I seriously don’t think I would have been able to sing and understand the lyrics if I didn’t have the transcripts in both Languages. So this album was actually my official introduction to Bachata Music, as far as actually sitting down and listening to an entire album in Spanish, I just never really thought of looking up the lyrics for some reason at the time, very dumb…I guess I thought after a while I would learn if I listened enough. I learned, but I could have learned a lot faster if I had utilized the lyrics.
I knew I was making some headway in this slow learning process when I mentioned the names of some of these artists to Spanish speaking friends and they would get caught off guard when I start throwing out names like Aventura, Frank Reyes, Anthony Santos, Joey Veras etc. The music made me feel a part of the culture officially. Those programs I used in the past, were very good, but I didn’t FEEL apart of the culture. Anyway, while I was still struggling to understand the music from that Bachata classics album, A Dominican friend of mine introduced me to Romeo Santos, she was absolutely in love with this guy and said he is the best bachatero in the world, bla blah bla…
Around that time, Romeo Santos had a new album out called, “The Formula” and I was thinking, “why does this Spanish Singer have an album called the formula? shouldn’t it have a more Spanish sounding title?” Yes, I know…I was very ignorant. I decided to buy the album and give it few listens, of course I didn’t understand much, but It was a little bit easier to comprehend, thanks to the exposure I got from listening to the old school Bachata hits compilation.
I was determined to understand every single word of this new Romeo Album. When I first started, I set a goal to understand at least 60-75% of what was being said on each song and have them become some of my favorites. Since the music was sounded so good, it made it a bit easier, I was definitely into how it was flowed even when I didn’t understand nada. After listening to the album for a couple of weeks, I decided to take a different approach. I knew I wouldn’t learn much simply listening, at that rate, It would have taken me years to learn and understand one song. I knew if I could just find lyrics, it would help me out tremendously, especially in combination with other Spanish Learning materials. I did a quick Google search for the lyrics of some of the songs, and read them on the computer while listening, and then the songs started making more sense, especially once I decided to look for the English translation. With that DJ Amor Bachata Classics album, I never really searched for the Lyrics, I thought I would learn if I just listened to all the songs till my ears bleed. And that Bachata compilation had about 30 something tracks by the way, I had both vol 1 & 2 *shaking my head*.
This Romeo Santos album, I searched for the lyrics and I was happy to find them fairly easily. I wanted to listen to the songs all the time on my brand spanking new iPod touch while running around so I can start singing the songs automatically without too much thinking, we all know repetition is the key to learning, especially learning another language. I also wanted a quick and convenient way to look up the lyrics while listening on the go, doing so would help me understand the songs much faster if I was actively listening to the tunes and had the verses with me.
This is when I first came up with the idea of displaying the lyrics of the songs on the iPod. I was always thinking, “they must be a way to display lyrics without stopping the song”. Admittedly, I got kind of lazy, but it made total sense. I never knew one could insert lyrics of songs and view them directly on the iPod, it’s something that is not used often, most people don’t even know about it. After doing a little research, I was thrilled to find out that I could type up the lyrics to any song in my collection and view it on the iPod pretty easily. Of course I didn’t have to waste time typing in the lyrics, especially with my limited Spanish, thanks to the magic of copy & pasting :). This was exactly what I was looking for!! It felt like hit the jackpot at the time.
Luckily, finding the English translations for a lot of Romeo’s songs wasn’t too difficult, especially since he is such a popular artist.
After I had the songs in iTunes, all I had to do was right click the track and select Info (see left screenshot).
Once I get into the info screen, next step was to simply copy/paste the lyrics of the song into the “Lyrics” tab, see screenshot on the left.
As you can see, I took it a step further and added the English translation directly below the Spanish lines, since I was still struggling reading Spanish. Check the line below as an example:
“Hey escucha las palabras… de romeo. Hey, listen to the words … of romeo”
For every line (or couple of lines) of this song, I added the English translation below the Spanish and was able to listen, scroll through the lyrics, rewind all without leaving the default player once I synced up. Now although it wasn’t too hard to find the lyrics in both languages, it did take me a little time and patience to format it this way, but it was well worth it. I just had to do it one time and it was there forever. I repeated this process for each song on the album.
Now I am able to instantly recognize the songs and sing along to every song on the Album. It was just a matter of practicing, reading them over and over again. After losing my iPod touch, and didn’t feel like Spending another $300, I re-synced the songs to my much older and smaller iPod Nano, and I still was able to see the lyrics (See right screenshot). I revisited the Bachata hits album from earlier and applied the same technique of inserting the lyrics in iTunes and viewing them on the iPod and that is how I learned those classics as well. When I returned to listening to the Bachata hits songs, I realized I was listening to Romeo Santos all along, since he was part of a Group called Aventura, which had a couple of incredibly hot songs on the Bachata hits compilation album, go figure!
Ahhhh the joys of learning Spanish. Learning a few Spanish songs is certainly one of the most rewarding feeling I’ve had in this Language learning journey, some of those songs have become my favorites, not just favorite Spanish songs, but favorite songs of all time. I started with only one song and now I know dozens, I listen to them casually now, not because I am trying to learn, if you get what I am saying. Now I can listen to those songs, close my eyes and just enjoy the music and sing along!
So these two albums, the Romeo Santos Album & the Bachata hits albums are very dear to my heart, since they’ve helped me really get into the music and just appreciate it. That Bachata album, I even started looking up individual artists that were on there and became a fan of some of them, amazing! It’s not going to show you how to speak Spanish fluently, but it will get you more into the culture and appreciate the language a little more. My experience with learning Spanish through music is THE #1 reason, you’ll hear a lot of Spanish instrumentals (salsa & bachata) during several scenes in Gritty Spanish.
So talk about it, do you use Spanish music to help improve Spanish? if so, what songs or artist have you used? what techniques have you used to help you understand the songs better?
Listen to Music with Lyrics in Spanish and English and download document with Lyrics