Learn Spanish: Ditch the Textbook and Listen to These Musicians

I don’t want to get too middle school Spanish teacher on you — we’ve already discussed how important it is to learn Spanish

Photo: Unsplash/@jontyson

Photo: Unsplash/@jontyson

I don’t want to get too middle school Spanish teacher on you — we’ve already discussed how important it is to learn Spanish. The good news is that you don’t need to order from Amazon and get that copy of Spanish for Dummies. There are better, more fun, and arguably even sexier ways to learn!

To get started you can have a try at the insanely popular language learning app Duolingo, where the lessons are more like interactive games. But once you have a grasp of basic Spanish, it’s time to move on to some more experiential learning. We’ve shared some fun TV shows to help perfect your language skills, but perhaps my favorite way to learn Spanish is by listening to music.

Listening to music helps you learn the language without even thinking about it. And if you’re not into Latin pop, there are plenty of other genres you can find on Spotify like salsa, rock en español, and even alternative.

Once you find a genre you like, listen to songs and follow along to the lyrics. Use a side by side translation if you need to cheat, and try to memorize key phrases so you can sing along. Even if your voice is as bad as mine, don’t let that deter you – practice makes perfect! And by listening to music from different countries, you’ll be able to master different colloquial expressions and vocabulary differences by region. I’ve gotten some strange looks while trying to coger the bus in Latin America. While you might need to coger the bus in Spain, in Mexico City it’s more likely you’ll want to coger the bartender. Not a good look.

Okay, back to business! Here are a few artists from different countries who have been key for me to learn Spanish. The lyrics are pretty clear and crisp, and the rhythms are catchy.


Cumbia pop? Qué? Until recently, I didn’t even know that this was a genre. Popular in Uruguay, Argentina, and Peru, it doesn’t always make its way across the border to the U.S. But groups like Maramá and Rombai are helping to spread the sound, and at times have had 5+ hits on the Spotify Top 50 in the Cono Sur countries. Rombai’s lead singer, Fer Vazquez, is also pretty guapo — make sure you learn that critical vocab word soon if you didn’t know it already.wp_*posts

Julieta Venegas

This Grammy winner has been pumping out hits since her solo debut in 1997. Her roots trace back to Mexican ska band, Tijuana No! She can play the accordion, guitar, and keyboard and flawlessly incorporates all of them into her songs. Back in 11th grade Spanish class, my teacher assigned a fill in the blank worksheet for her single “Lento.” I’ve been a die-hard Julieta fan ever since! wp_*posts


You probably know him already, but if you don’t there’s still time to learn. “Camisa Negra” will forever be one of my fave party songs. Just like it was when I saw Juanes in concert for the first time in 2005! His Colombian accent is easy to understand to help you learn Spanish. And let’s not forget he’s been churning out hits for decades. Here’s one of my more recent favorites—“Juntos”—from the McFarland movie soundtrack.

With enough practice, even the origin of the speaker won’t make that much of a difference when listening to Spanish. But maybe we’ll hold off on the reggaeton. While it’s my fave it’s a bit harder to follow along to the lyrics. Don’t worry, you’ll be there soon as you learn the patterns of speech with a little practice, patience, and dedication.

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