She might currently be in disguise 'Coming out, coming out, coming out' and the talk of lycanthropy might slightly confuse listeners at first, but when it comes to raising awareness of the Spanish language the Colombian pop singer Shakira rightly deserves the kudos she's earned.
It turns out that a record number of students will have the option of doing Spanish GCSE this year, the result of more secondary schools teaching the romance language as opposed to, for instance, German. And the key to that switch? A Barranquilla-born popstress whose introduction to performing was via a group of belly dancers at a Middle eastern restaurant.
But it's not just Shakira who has caused this volte-face. Over the last decade Spain has gone from being just a holiday destination to becoming permanent residence for many British people. And as the government from that Iberian country continues to clamp down on illegal settlements (villas, chalets and the like), the newly arrived sons and daughters of Albion have had to pull up their socks and learn the language in order to fit in quickly.
Another factor is students' gap year. Many youngsters prefer to volunteer overseas before starting university. And Latin America features highly on their list.
However, this explanation is not meant to take the gloss off Shakira's achievement. She has made a difference. And no, I'm not stupid. It's the Colombian singer who has made Spanish popular by singing in English. For some reason 'Una loba en el armario/Tiene ganas de salir/Deja que se coma el barrio/Antes de irte a dormir' doesn't sound as cool as the version in English. And also, let's not forget one of the reasons why la Colombianita has captured the imagination of teenagers and adults alike: she is one of pop's pinups (albeit with a good voice, as demonstrated in the clip below) whose 'hips don't lie' and who is lucky 'that my breasts are small and humble/So you don't confuse them with mountains'. Still, a victory for the bilingual world. I await Germany's response. Wölfin, wo sind Sie, bitte?
About the clip tonight: This song is a classic in the Ibero-Latin Diaspora originally written and performed by the Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez. In this video you have the Argentinian Mercedes Sosa, who sadly died last year (read my tribute to her here) and our new Ambassadress of the Spanish language. Enjoy.
Next Post: 'Danton (Review)', to be published on Thursday 4th March at 11:59pm (GMT)