I know, it’s so hard to pick your final rotation of songs for Spanish class when Hispanic Heritage Month arrives. There’s too many good ones to choose from! Not gonna lie, these Spanish language songs were hard to compile – the might of Latinx culture is especially evident in music, and what better time to emphasize it than Latinx Heritage Month?
I’ll never forget the power that Latinx music and Hispanic artists had on my Spanish class. Listening to music from around the Spanish speaking world every day was hands-down one of my favorite parts of being a high school Spanish teacher.
I know you love playing music in your Spanish classroom too, and you’re always looking for fresh and clean (ish) lyrics that you can play with confidence in class and use in lessons. Here’s my favorite songs in Spanish and Spanglish to get Latinx heritage month and your classroom poppin’ all year round! Leave in the comments below any of the ones I’ve missed!
Hispanic Heritage Month Activities for Spanish Class
Now, let’s get into some ideas for how to use these songs in your class. Not just during Latinx Heritage month — these clean songs and music videos are great for all year round! The best part about songs is that they are decor-free. Which as a high school teacher, is a huge plus. I’m so anti-bulletin board, it’s not even funny. I want one good one that will last me all year long, people. If it’s not a word wall, it ain’t worth it. Lolz – but that’s just me!
If you’re a classroom decor master, I’m secretly jealous. The truth is I’m just really bad at it!
What does that mean for you? It means that all of these ideas for celebrating Latinx Heritage month in Spanish class are completely decor-free, hassle-free, and focused on fun, meaningful lessons that you can honestly use all year round.
Spanish Class Activities with Music
The list for how to use music in Spanish class is endless, but here are my top favorites:
- replace your timers (for independent work, stations, or games, etc) with songs
- have a daily warmup song
- brain breaks – baila baila!
- for use in games
- interpretive listening
- CLoZE activities – students fill in a few missing lyrics that you take out, so they reeeeally have to listen
More Ideas for How to Use Songs in Spanish Class
- dialogue scrambles to check for meanings – print out the chorus or a section of the song, cut each line into parts, and have students put them back into order (you can also do the same thing in google classroom, just with text boxes out of order)
- students have to research more about their favorite artist and do anciliary projects, like creating a social media profile for the artist in Spanish, researching and presenting about their hometown, create a tour plan to see acts live, find more favorite songs, all kinds of good ideas!
- Song of the Week – Canción de la Semana (my all-time favorite) spend one week doing multiple activities on one incredible song that also includes functional chunks and language that matches up with your students’ level and what they’re learning in class (for example, lots of preterite or forms of gustar)
- Use song lyrics to introduce and present grammar in context in a proficiency-centered way
- play softly in the background of any quiet time, independent work time, or reading time for some good ole’ fashioned cultural immersion, J. Balvin style
Top Songs for Spanish Class
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Take it from a Spanish teacher with a Spanish class playlist over 200 songs long — choosing just a few great Spanish language songs that highlight the might that is Latinx music was a challenge.
I chose these songs for Spanish class specifically because they flow beautifully into easy culture activities, have tons of visuals of Latin American places and important Hispanic landscapes in the US (of course one of the largest Hispanic countries) in the music videos, and have specific themes that honor cultural pride, stories, landscapes, struggles, and people to honor.
Clean Songs for Classroom Activities
Next, they also of course have (relatively) clean lyrics. I’m only mildly well-versed in Dominican swear words, so forgive me if one slips in that I’m not aware of. Honestly, your kids won’t even notice and your heritage kids will LOVE it. (Many of my heritage kids liked to double check my songs — doesn’t hurt to ask)
Now onto the music!
2021 Best Songs for Latinx Heritage Month
If you only have time for 1 song, CHOOSE THIS ONE. That’s why the Calle 13 masterpiece homage song to the historical trials and strength of Latin America is #1. You’ll see images of various Latin American countries and the beautiful people that inhabit them, living out their every day, from the grueling to the beautiful.
X might be a relative newcomer, but he’s here to stay and his voice is powerful. This Spanglish song is perfect for your class with the simple lyrics in very slow, clear, and even beautifully transcribed Spanish. Plus the beat just don’t quit. You’ll fall in love with the poetic way he speaks. Your kids will love how he makes heavy themes like ancestors, family trauma, and the ever-present haunt of the border a relatable but raw song. Do me a favor and check out the group Voice Runners while you’re at it and continue the soul-affirming love.
All things Natalia, all day. Natalia Lafourcade is on the forefront of preserving Latin American folk music traditions — but in a good way, not in the stale way it’s being done in the US with people revisiting the same themes over and over out of nostalgia. Her music is full of life! This song is also perfect for your dreaded dusty gustar unit, it’s got tons of examples.
The Best Music Videos for Spanish Class
I picked the ones below specifically for how great their videos are. Don’t worry, they are all clean songs perfect for your Spanish class and I used to show them constantly.
Next up, we have Gente de Zona. La Gozadera is the ultimate Latinx pride song for Spanish language beginners – it even includes painted dancers with la bandera for each country. The lyrics are perfect for Spanish 1s and 2s : they’re simple, repetitive, and catchy as hell. Almost every Hispanic country is literally name-checked with their instruments or important dishes. It’s a dream!
Next, another great song with Carlos Vives. This jam with is a one-stop shop for all the beauty of Colombia in one perfect, beautiful song. Including several different collaborating Colombian artists from different genres, the beauty and variety of different dances, and magnificent and varied landscapes. It’s like a musical powertour through the very best of the Amazon!
This next song by Gaby Moreno is not only a total banger, it’s a beautiful tribute to Guatemalan pride with tons of clips of cool Guatemalans and the natural beauty of the country.
Don’t be fooled by Alvaro Soler — although don’t lie, you’re always glad to see him 😉 (honey, ain’t we all?). This song for Spanish class is all about La Fuerza de Cuba. Set in Habana, it follows a boxer training for a fight. She trains in humble digs and trains throughout the city with the support of her neighbors. It’s the coolest Rocky montage you’ve never seen.
OK OK I know, I talk about ChocQuibTown every second. But I’m not kidding, this was hands down my Spanish class’s favorite song every single year. It’s gonna be yours too. Not only do they throw down so hard, this music video is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen — and I live by the beach!
As a side note, I also used to introduce preterite with this song because it does a beautiful job of introducing the most important irregulars in context, with a variety of subject pronouns. It could work really well for you too!
Yup, Carlos Vives is back! And this time, his act just got leveled up with the queen Shakira. This one you’ll love for how many amazing shots of the city are in it and how many people they interact with. Plus it’s Shakira….soooo yeah. Nuff said.
Yeah I know it’s cheesy, but this is how much I care. This song is a perfect jam for your class because it shows off that beautiful Boriqua pride in a way that only NYC could do. I have a special place in my heart for this video, and I know your Spanish class will too.
La Santa Cecilia is an American treasure. This song is perfect for all parts of the year, but especially of course for when it gets into October and you need some good activities for Día de los Muertos. You’ll love who’s trying to sneak into the party.
Finally, we have a live recording to add some life to your Spanish class celebration. What kind of roundup would this be without Lila Downs? She puts the sexy in opera. This song has so much love and life, you feel like you’re at the concert. The best line: “¿y la mejor ingrediente? ¡La cultura de mi gente!”
A Hispanic Heritage Month Must-Do for Spanish Class
Even if you catch this post after Oct 15th, it’s cool. You can use this incredible free documentary any time of year, not just during Latinx Heritage Month (or Hispanic Heritage Month as many still call it, but Latinx is more inclusive language).
Latin Explosion is a one-two punch: a perfect way to wrap up your songs in Spanish class unit for Hispanic Heritage month, and a great way to lead into further research or deep-cut projects like food justice, immigration rights, famous Latinx Americans, and concerts and festivals in your community!
The Latin Explosion is the only documentary your kids will actually want to watch this year because it’s about the songs they hear on the radio and how Latin music became synonymous with American music, and how so much of American culture is really Latinx culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month Webquest
What was my follow-up activity you say? I used these beauties: Hispanic Country Desk or Bulletin Board Labels. I love them because they include the top US states with Spanish-speaking populations, as well as famous people and important dishes from each Spanish-speaking country. It also includes a Hispanic Heritage month webquest. I used them for so many different lessons throughout the year, and following up this documentary was one of them.
More Activities for Spanish Class
Ready to keep the party going? I have a ton more ideas for you to get your class into Hispanic Heritage month. Check out the related posts below to get more ideas for both songs and activities in Spanish class:
- Afro-Latinx Leaders for Spanish Class
- Virtual Field Trips for Spanish Class
- 10 Games and Activities for Spanish Class
- How to Teach with Music in Spanish Class
Are you looking for some writing activities? Another great Spanish teacher at Learning Llama has some great ideas for more activities to use during Latinx Heritage Month.
A Bonus Resource for Your Spanish Activities
Last but not least, I have one last resource to make music in Spanish class easier for you to implement. As a Spanish 1 high school teacher, comprehensible input was my secret weapon. However, I was often exhausted from being the constant source of input for my students. Insert music – this is where songs come in handy in class. They can be the main source of input for you!
However great your song choices are about to be, they’re not much good if you don’t know how to make the content, culture, and language within them stick. Have you ever wished that all this could be easier in your classroom?
I have a solution for you.
Comprehensible Input in Spanish – How to Get Started
Download the free World Language Teacher Toolkit below, and you’ll get instant free access to a 20+ page free ebook filled with a step-by-step guide on how to transition to proficiency using more comprehensible input.
Did I miss any great songs for Latinx Heritage Month? Let me know in the comments below what songs you love for your Spanish class and what activities you plan to use! I’m excited to see what you have in store.
Rooting for you,