Strengthening communication skills:
reading and writing through the
analysis of traditional Vallenato songs
with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
To reference this article / Cómo citar este artículo / Para
citar este artigo: Britto-Jiménez, G. K., Villalba-Contreras, V. E. y
Bovea-Ramos, Á. E. (2023). Strengthening communication skills:
Reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato
songs with fifth-grade students. Revista UNIMAR, 41(1), 64–81.
Reception date: January 23, 2022
Review date: May 19, 2022
Approval date: October 15, 2022
The strengthening of communication skills allows us to function in daily life.
Therefore, the objective of this research was to strengthen reading and writing
skills, through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs, with fth-grade
students. Methodologically, the study was framed in the critical paradigm,
under the qualitative approach, with the pedagogical action research method,
energized in three phases: deconstruction, reconstruction, and evaluation of the
reconstructed practice. 33 students made up the work unit. The instruments
were: a questionnaire addressed to teachers and an observation log. The results
of the diagnosis evidenced the diculty of the students in the development
of the aforementioned skills. With the implementation of the workshops, they
expanded their vocabulary, expressing themselves with solid arguments and
writing pertinent summaries. This allows us to conclude that traditional Vallenato
songs strengthened communication skills; in addition, the students were able to
interpret the message that the composer embodied in the songs.
Keywords: communicative competence; reading; writing; popular song; ability.
Master in Pedagogy. Professor at Francisco Palau y Quer School. Email: brittogina4@gmail.com
Master in Pedagogy. Professor at Bello Horizonte Educational Institution Villa Yaneth campus. Email: vesthervillalba@gmail.com
Master in Education. Professor of the Technical Education Upar, Valledupar, Cesar. Email: albora1979@hotmail.es
An article resulting from the research entitled: ‘Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of
traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students’, developed from March 8, 2021, to September 30, 2021, in Valledupar municipality,
Cesar, Colombia
Fortalecimiento de las habilidades comunicativas: leer
y escribir, mediante el análisis de canciones vallenatas
tradicionales con estudiantes del grado quinto
El fortalecimiento de las habilidades comunicativas permite desenvolverse
diariamente, por ello, el objetivo de esta investigación fue fortalecer las habilidades
comunicativas: leer y escribir, mediante el análisis de canciones vallenatas
tradicionales con estudiantes del grado quinto. Metodológicamente se enmarcó
en el paradigma crítico, bajo el enfoque cualitativo, con el método investigación
acción pedagógica, dinamizada en tres fases: deconstrucción, reconstrucción y
evaluación de la práctica reconstruida. La unidad de trabajo fue 33 estudiantes. Los
instrumentos utilizados fueron un cuestionario dirigido a docentes y una bitácora
de observación. Los resultados del diagnóstico evidenciaron la dicultad de los
estudiantes para el desarrollo de las habilidades comunicativas: leer y escribir.
Con la implementación de los talleres, los estudiantes ampliaron el vocabulario,
expresándose con argumentos sólidos y redactaron síntesis pertinentes. Se
concluyó que, las canciones vallenatas tradicionales fortalecieron las habilidades
comunicativas de los estudiantes, además, interpretaron el mensaje que el
compositor plasmó en las canciones.
Palabras clave: competencia comunicativa; lectura; escritura; canto popular;
Fortalecimento das habilidades de comunicação:
leitura e escrita por meio da análise de canções
tradicionais vallenatas com alunos da quinta série
O fortalecimento das habilidades de comunicação permite funcionar na vida
diária; portanto, o objetivo desta pesquisa foi fortalecer as habilidades de leitura
e escrita, por meio da análise de canções tradicionais vallenatas, com alunos da
quinta série. Metodologicamente, o estudo foi enquadrado no paradigma crítico,
sob a abordagem qualitativa, com o método de pesquisa-ação pedagógica,
dinamizado em três fases: desconstrução, reconstrução e avaliação da prática
reconstruída. A unidade de trabalho foi de 33 alunos. Os instrumentos foram: um
questionário dirigido aos professores e um diário de observação. Os resultados
do diagnóstico evidenciaram a diculdade dos alunos no desenvolvimento das
habilidades supracitadas. Com a implementação das ocinas, eles ampliaram
seu vocabulário, expressando-se com argumentos sólidos e escrevendo resumos
pertinentes. Isso permite concluir que as canções tradicionais vallenatas
fortaleceram as habilidades de comunicação; além disso, os alunos puderam
interpretar a mensagem que o compositor incorporou nas canções.
Palavras-chave: competência comunicativa; leitura; escrita; música popular;
Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
1. Introduction
According to Pérez and La Cruz (2014):
Educating students in the formal learning of
the written language and signicantly favoring
the development of oral expression is one of
the tasks that teachers face throughout their
professional career [...], especially in the rst
grades of primary education. It is pertinent to
emphasize, as stated by González (2008), that
the acquisition of these practices is necessary,
being considered essential for the acquisition
of knowledge and the development of certain
skills in the various subjects of the curriculum.
In this regard, UNESCO (2005) asserts in
one of its reports: learning to read and write
is an essential means of mastering other
subjects and is one of the best instruments
for formulating forecasts of long-term learning
outcomes. Reading should be an important area
when it comes to focusing eorts on improving
the quality of basic education. (p. 2)
One of the main problems that arise in the
dierent educational contexts of the municipality
of Valledupar is the diculty in communication
skills: reading and writing. According to the
ICFES national report (Saber 3
, 5
, and 9
2012-2017), in 2017, the results found in
the language area show the shortcomings of
students to achieve a global understanding of the
texts. This problem persists in the municipality,
and it is evident in the direct observations
made to the fth-grade students of the Bello
Horizonte Educational Institution, Villa Yaneth
de Valledupar, Cesar.
Through some observations made to these
students on the communicative skills of reading
and writing, the diculty in expressing their
feelings and emotions was evidenced, since they
have a very limited vocabulary, given the little
reading habit. Little analysis is also observed,
and little ability to summarize, order, formulate
hypotheses, create, and issue opinions. Their
biggest obstacle is in textual production, among
other situations, which prevents them from
performing well when reading texts in all areas
of knowledge, which has multiple negative
consequences on their academic performance.
Something necessary in this institution is to
distort the paradigm that only the Spanish
Language teacher is in charge of guiding the
reading and writing processes, specically in
the rst grades (basic primary). After so many
attempts, proposals, and investigations, it is clear
that the responsibility for the student to acquire
the necessary skills to understand texts belongs
to all teachers, without determining a specic
area. This situation is notorious when a student
who has diculties in this process also presents
deciencies in all areas of knowledge, because
the language they use, whether oral or written,
must be interpreted by other students. This has
generated a change of conception in the face of
this situation, where all the actors in charge of
the training process have direct responsibilities
when addressing this diculty.
Taking into account the above and recognizing
the importance of improving these diculties, it
became necessary to propose a proposal that,
in a certain way, would help to strengthen the
communicative skills of reading and writing,
through the analysis of vallenato songs with
fth-grade students from the Villa Yaneth
headquarters of the Bello Horizonte Educational
Institution in Valledupar, Cesar.
For this reason, the following main question
was raised: How can the communicative skills
of reading and writing be strengthened through
the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs in
fth-grade students, morning shift, of the Bello
Horizonte Educational Institution, Villa Yaneth
campus, from Valledupar, Cesar?
To resolve this question, the following general
objective was proposed: Strengthen the
communicative skills of reading and writing
through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs
in fth-grade students. To make this objective
workable, the following specic objectives were
elaborated: 1) Diagnose weaknesses in the
communication skills of reading and writing in
students; 2) Design workshops to strengthen
the communication skills of reading and writing,
through the analysis of traditional Vallenato
songs; 3) Implement reading and writing
workshops through the analysis of traditional
Vallenato songs; 4) Evaluate the application
of reading and writing workshops through the
analysis of traditional Vallenato songs.
Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
The research is justied because the
communicative skills of reading and writing are
the fundamental essence of the human being,
which sizes and redenes the reality of which it
is part and is committed to transforming. These
abilities must be considered, not as an accessory
element of school tasks, but as the cognitive
mechanism that propels the construction of
knowledge and its procedure within society.
In this context, the communicative skills of
reading and writing should be strengthened in
fth-grade students, through the analysis of
vallenato songs. This, more than an interest in
optimizing interpretive processes, is a challenge
that initially requires awareness of how essential
it is to work from one’s own, from one’s culture,
understanding that one becomes part of it and
that, in addition to allowing an identity rescue
facilitates improving reading comprehension
processes, which obviously can be easier if we
work with written texts that use typical terms
and realities of a known culture.
Reading and written production are relevant
to education, to the point that the greatest
eorts of the Ministry of National Education
and public and private educational entities
emphasize reection, discussion, and execution
of plans, projects, and programs leading to
reduce diculties in this area, and the Bello
Horizonte Educational Institution, Villa Yaneth
de Valledupar, Cesar, is no exception concerning
the problems outlined in the document.
Therefore, the contents of the vallenatos songs
are useful for fth-grade students, in the challenge
of articulating, improving, and promoting the
communicative skills of reading and writing,
focused on the relationship between the content
of the songs and the grammatical categories,
text structures, and reading comprehension. In
this way, it is possible to improve their capacity
for analysis, interpretation, and understanding,
to the point of allowing them to expand their
vocabulary and play a role in the context,
consistent with the demands of society.
In the social imaginary of this educational
community, cultural expressions such as
traditional Vallenato songs are necessary
because they permeate the communicative
heritage in a certain way. The ancestral traditions
appear in daily life and, from the memory of the
people, oral and written forms emerge as a vital
product that gives new meanings to the reality
of the classroom and the social environment of
the students.
Development and application of the project to
strengthen the communication skills of reading and
writing with fth-grade students are important for
Universidad Mariana because its team of teachers
contributes to promoting the processes of reading
comprehension, creating spaces for discussion,
reection, and production of reading and writing,
articulated to the contents of traditional Vallenato
songs that are part of the culture of the students
and, therefore, arouse their interest in their
Based on the above, it was pertinent to review
previous works that included the categories of
the study; thus, Guerra et al. (2019), whose
research was based on positivist thinking, with
a quantitative approach and quasi-experimental
design, showed that the pedagogical mediation
applied to the group under investigation made
it possible to reduce distracting elements in
classes, increase interest in learning, and
academic performance. These authors arm
that playful musical strategies oer important
changes in university learning.
The contribution of this study is related to the
importance of inserting music and, especially,
vallenato in the educational context, because it
represents a fundamental role in the student,
which allows fast, relaxed, and safe learning, due
to the inuence that exerts the cultural milieu
concerning music; therefore, it is denitive in
the desire to learn.
Durán’s study (2019) stands out nationally;
her objective was to build and apply a didactic
proposal based on songs, rounds, and games,
to stimulate the teaching-learning of social
sciences. Methodologically, the research was
framed in the qualitative paradigm and in the
research-action design. For the collection of
information, he used the techniques of direct
observation, the eld diary, non-structured
or open interviews, and closed-ended
questionnaires. The procedure was based on
ve stages; the sample consisted of 28 fth-
grade B students.
Results show that the students actively
appropriated the knowledge since they showed
Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
pleasure in carrying out the activities. Regarding
the conclusions, songs, rounds, and games,
they stimulated the teaching and learning of the
social sciences, because, in their daily activities,
they are taught that learning is easy and fun
and that qualities such as creativity, desire, and
interest to participate, respect for others, attend
to and comply with rules, be valued by the
group, act with more security and communicate
better; that is to say, to express their thought
without obstacles.
This research contributed to the present study
regarding the need to use didactic strategies
that motivate the teaching-learning process
and the importance of inserting music for
the development of communication skills in
On the other hand, in the international scope,
the study by Sangama (2019) stands out and set
out to understand the importance of developing
children’s communication skills from an early
age, so that they can assertively express their
ideas, thoughts, emotions, and, that they can
start a conversation in any circumstance and
context of their life. The methodology was
a qualitative documentary type. The study
concluded that socialization, through coexistence
and play, contributes to the acquisition and full
development of communication skills, since,
through exchanges with their peers and with
adults, children acquire new linguistic resources
to the repertoire of the various responses of
others, assimilating cognitive structures over
the patterns of values, norms, and meanings
recognized in their context.
This study contributed to the research, key
elements to highlight the importance of
developing communication skills in students
since they allow them to rearrange their
cognitive structures to understand more;
likewise, it develops autonomous learning to
be able to function with assertive language and
eective communication.
Regarding the theories developed in the study,
the ability was addressed. According to Portillo-
Torres (2017), the ability is understood as:
A combination of knowledge of materials and
processes with manual skills is required to
carry out a productive activity. That is, the
ability represents an individual property,
a physical and mental ability to perform a
task in the work process [...]. Skill can only
be demonstrated in performance (by doing
something), while knowledge can be gained
through more abstract means, such as
conversation. Therefore, the skill is identied
as practical or technical knowledge, the ability
to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical
context. This way of understanding ability is
close to the concept of competence. (p. 119)
For communication, according to Kaplún (as
cited in Niño, 2012), if one delves into the level
of interpersonal communication between two
people, there are two ways of understanding:
the rst, if it occurs from the transmission of
information of one person to another through
a medium, in this case, we speak of one-
way communication, which occurs exclusively
from the perspective of the rst interlocutor;
therefore, the most correct form of speech is
the monologue. The most appropriate verb to
dene this rst conception is to communicate.
The second, a little more generic, occurs with
two-way communication, where reciprocity is
shown between the participants, which is why
the idea of dialogue appears, in which case the
action is called communication.
Regarding communication skills, Monsalve et
al., 2009 argue that,
These refer to the competence that a person
has to express their ideas, feelings, needs,
dreams, and desires through oral and written
language. Also, the ability to understand the
messages they receive through these codes.
This didactic proposal is specically oriented
toward the development of the following
communication skills: speaking, listening,
reading, and writing. (p.193)
In this line of thought, according to Cassany et
al. (2008, as cited in Monsalve et al., 2009):
Every user of a language must master these
skills to communicate eectively in the various
situations of daily life. Therefore, the school
must develop methodological and didactic
proposals to develop and enhance them from
a communicative approach.
A language is a social act that contributes
to shaping the cognitive structure of human
beings, and this, in turn, through its schemes
Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
and functions, inuences communication,
which is the result of the relationships that the
individual establishes with the environment
conguring itself in this way in a socially
mediated process. Hence, communicative
competence is congured as a complex act that
implies a set of linguistic and sociolinguistic
processes, which the human being must put
into play to produce or understand speeches
according to dierent situations and contexts,
and to the degree of complexity according to
the situation. (p. 193)
For Fernández et al. (2006), communication
skills refer to:
The levels of competencies and skills that
individuals acquire by systematizing certain
actions through the experiences and education
they obtain throughout their lives, allow
them to perform and regulate communicative
activity. (p. 2)
Therefore, it can be armed that communication
skills are fostered through the communicative
approach; so, it is necessary to look for activities
that resemble the type of competencies that
the student will have to develop in their life
outside the classroom, which will be carried out
among groups of students under the supervision
of the teacher, in which the student has the
possibility of using the language in class, in
a real way and interact depending on their
possibilities and abilities to exchange. In this
exchange, their vocabulary or grammar will
be implemented, in addition to the necessary
strategies for communication, not only when
listening or reading, but also when speaking or
writing, integrating the four fundamental skills
of the language: speaking, listening, reading,
and writing; this interaction helps make
communication more competent.
As a communicative skill, reading is the result of
the interaction between a structure, the text, an
action, and the readers response. According to
Greimas and Courtes (as cited in Sánchez, 2003),
the act of reading or constructing the meaning
of a text implies establishing a relationship
between linguistic signs and their objects
through a set of interpretants; the meaning is in
reaching the semiotic process of interpretation.
Thus, constructing the meaning of a text is,
constructing the object of the discourse; then,
construction of the reader, due to their previous
experience of the signs and their combination,
will acquire a certain competence to interpret
their reading.
Writing, as a communicative skill, runs into a
lack of understanding that, in the pedagogical
discourse, is related to writing, the semiotic
function of language. It is in the school where
the problems with lack of abstraction, analysis,
and synthesis originate. From the semiotic
perspective, writing is, according to Peirce (as
cited in Murillo & Valle, 2015),
a constructive characteristic of the signs that
leads to the construction of meanings and
senses; this is how such an activity requires the
subject to evaluate and review the knowledge
acquired, forcing him to question ideas and
seek other voices. Writing is essentially the
morality of fame. (p. 12)
These characteristics give rise to a semiotic
process, linked to writing in its relationship
between expression and content, which is
reected in the discourse staged: why do I write,
who do I write for, alluding to positions. Barthes
(as cited in Murillo & Valle, 2015) notes that it is
necessary to protect, monitor, censor, and cross
out nonsense, suciencies (or insuciencies),
hesitations, and ignorance.
For Greimas and Courtes (as cited in Cely &
Duque, 2009) writing is understood as: “the
manifestation of a natural language with the
help of a signier, whose substance is of a
visual and graphic (or pictographic) nature” (p.
121). In this sense, writing is the pragmatic-
somatic process of graphic production that a
subject, using various instruments, carries out
on a matter in a specic social and individual
situation, during a determined time, the result
of which is a sequence of graphic inscriptions.
For Segura (2016) the written expression
The highest level of linguistic learning, since
it integrates experiences and learning related
to all linguistic skills (listening, speaking,
and reading) and puts into operation all
the dimensions of the linguistic system
(phonological, morph-syntactic, lexical-
semantics, and pragmatics). Writing is a
complex skill that requires the writer to have
Strengthening communication skills: reading and writing through the analysis of traditional Vallenato songs with fth-grade students
Gina Katherine Britto Jiménez
Virginia Esther Villalba Contreras
Álvaro Enrique Bovea Ramos
the knowledge, basic skills, strategies, and
the ability to coordinate multiple processes.
(para. 6)
For this reason, Vallenata music in particular,
and “musical sounds in the world [in general]
become a motivating factor that permeates joy,
given the value of euphonies in the mind of
those who listen to it, provoking emotions that
allow cognitive interrelationships, increasing
sensitivity” (Guerra et al., 2019, p. 63). Blacking
(as cited in Guerra et al., 2019) considers:
The destiny of music is to involve people in
their own experiences and in their cultural
references. This consideration suggests that
music can generate an impact in the process of
arguing and interpreting their manifestations
or that of society, which facilitates a learning
process. (p. 63)
Thiermann (n.d.) expresses that,
As a musical genre, Vallenato has allowed the
recognition and preservation of the local oral
tradition by serving as a historical reference
for the region and a source of remembrance
of customs, places, and characters associated
with the Colombian Caribbean. In the
community, traditional songs have taken
root as an important source of memory and
identity construction, generating cultural
and social ties. From there also derives the
importance of training processes and cultural
entrepreneurship, which represents the
livelihood of local musicians and luthiers.
(para. 1)
2. Methodology
Current research is framed within the critical
or socio-critical paradigm, which requires,
on the part of the researcher, a constant
“reection-action, implying the researchers
commitment from practice to assume change
and liberation from oppressions that generate
social transformation. This implies a process of
participation and collaboration based on critical
self-reection in action” (Ricoy, 2006, pp. 17-
18), placing itself then in a qualitative approach,
because, according to González (as cited in
Portilla et al., 2014), “it addresses the real as a
cultural process, from a subjective perspective,
with which it tries to understand and interpret
all human actions, experiences, and feelings, to
create ways of being in the world of life” (p. 91)
The chosen method was action-research,
following the explanation of Vargas (2009):
The Pedagogical Action Research method
assumes practice as an object of study in
itself, an object of analysis, reection, and
intervention, with ethical and professional
responsibility. It is important to develop
processes of this nature because they favor
the rigorous analysis of what has been
produced and involve a bibliographic search to
extract from a theory, the applicable aspects
of the problem situation in a contextual
reality. Choosing the scenario that serves as a
source of information and observation is key
to the application of models, strategies, and
instruments to be used in the guiding practice
and in the area of interest, to improve the
quality of care that, as professionals, they
provide to populations in their dierent
environments. (p. 164)
Following the guidelines of Restrepo (2002),
the method is structured in three phases:
deconstruction through diagnosis and planning of
activities; reconstruction through the application
of actions and systematization of the practice;
and, evaluation of the practice (see Figure 1).