September Mixtape: Learning the Language

La Costa Brava: Zaragoza, Spain
When I first moved to Ecuador in September of 2011, my Spanish was almost non-existent. I knew some basic phrases, colors, numbers, "Donde esta el baño?" but not much more.

I really wanted to learn, but I wasn't willing to pay for lessons when I was already immersed in the language: through the people that worked in the shops, my boss, my friends, and the music.

Everyday, whether is was thumping from the worker boys' cabaña on the farm or playing from radios at every restaurant in town, I heard reggaeton: an awful mixture of Latino pop and hip hop. Terrible music, but it was addicting.

I wanted to sing the words like everyone else and know the meaning of these songs, so I got mp3s passed on from the flashdrives of friends and I downloaded from youtube. I looked up the lyrics online, printed them out, and translated them to English.

I listened to the music while making my four kilometer walk to the bus stop. I learned it made a great running mix and I also danced to the same songs at the beach cabañas almost every weekend. I was memorizing the lyrics while learning new words and phrases. I was learning a new language through pretty crappy music, but it worked.

Since leaving Ecuador, returning back to The States and moving to Spain, I have known that I've wanted to continue learning the language through music, but this time, some better music.

It has taken me almost a year, but I have found a solid groundwork of Spanish-speaking artists that I enjoy. It all started with stumbling across Devendra Banhart's weird freak-folk music video for Carmensita with lyrics like "Me como tu amor y cago el infierno."

So check out the September 2013 playlist on Spotify:

Do you like the music? Check out last month's playlist, too!

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