by Dr. Bruce Willis and Dr. Keith Mason
The idea of bridging music with language learning
is a clever one. It is a classic approach that has the immediate effect
of recalling childhood, the optimal age for language learning. Moreover,
it is an approach that integrates different cognitive areas of the brain
in a thoroughly harmonious learning process. In essence, language and
music are both important means of human communication and expression.
Based on this classic integrative approach, Stacey Tipton's text and CD
combination, Musical Spanish, is a highly original contribution for beginning
Spanish learners of all ages. Vocabulary, idiom, pronunciation, grammar
and cultural knowledge all spring effortlessly from Tipton's presentation
of the lyrics to the popular songs.
Sometimes the lyrics have been altered slightly to
allow for the incorporation of more vocabulary and grammar points, but
these alterations always fit the melodies and add new verses to popular
songs that already exist in different versions. The recordings, specially
commissioned by the author, showcase the variety of Hispanic culture through
their stylistic range. Music in Spanish has always been part of United
States culture, and the Latin music boom in the United States during the
1990s has helped raise awareness of the Latin roots of much of today's
popular music. Of course, the interest in Latin culture also reflects
the demographic strength of Spanish-speakers in the United States. No
one can doubt that, officially or not, Spanish is America's second language.
Musical Spanish is a hands-on approach to learning. Through learning the
songs, and truly performing them by internalizing the lyrics, Spanish
will take root and grow. Let the music and Spanish begin!
Dean Willis, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University
of South Alabama
Keith Mason, Ph.D. is Teacher of Spanish and Italian
and Research Institute director in the New Providence School District,
New Providence, New Jersey
Mason and Willis are also the authors of "Canciones
en la clase: The Why and How of Integrating Songs in Spanish by English-speaking
and Bilingual Artists," Hispania 77: 102-109, March 1994.