Spanish Christmas songs, or villancicos, are so much fun to learn and practice during this time of year. Students enjoy breaking up the monotony of class close to winter break and teachers can promote comprehensible input and pronunciation practice, with a dose of culture. Here are some suggestions to make the most out of this festive language learning experience:
- Choose familiar songs
First, choose well-known Christmas songs that students are familiar with in English. Because they already know the tune, they can concentrate on learning the words. Cascabel is a perfect one to start with.
- Listen first
Listen to the song together several times so students can hear the pronunciation of native speakers and where the natural stresses fall. It’s a good idea to listen together before giving students the lyrics. Once you’ve played the song at least twice, allow students to read along while listening a third time.
- Read aloud
Once students feel comfortable with the lyrics, read them aloud in class without the music. This allows students to actively practice their pronunciation. If you feel students need a refresher on the basics, first listen and sing along to a fun alphabet song. While reading the lyrics aloud, stop and carefully go over any tricky words that give students trouble.
- Record yourself
There are many options these days for voice recording with phones and tablets. Encourage students to take advantage of technology and record themselves speaking the lyrics to the cadence of the song. You can even do this during class if headphones and space are available. Once students have had a chance to listen to themselves, discuss as a class what they found difficult.
- Use online resources
Videos and recordings of native speakers singing villancicos are easy to find online. Some are cartoons and others are songs set to Christmas images, but most importantly, you can find culturally authentic songs such as “Los peces en el río.”
By Kelli Drummer-Avendano