To mimic Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, it’s Valentine’s Day. Again. Every year on February 14, 20 over-the-top lovebirds in any given high school will send grand gestures of their adoration to the objects of their affection, while the other 782 students either attempt to keep from retching or feel vaguely inadequate. Here is a way to strike back at the empire of passion.

With this activity students can learn some Spanish, have fun and release their creative (and mockingly evil side). I call it “El amor apesta” and students rewrite the lyrics to the song “Eres Tú”, originally sung by the Spanish group Mocedades. Let the kids be the zany ones, while you react in mock horror to how creatively mean they can be.

You can download the activity here.

I sing the original song with my guitar in class, often more than once, and then hand out the materials, which include the original lyrics and lists of alternative nouns and adjectives that express loathing. Students re-write the lyrics, addressing it to an ex, a boss they dislike, an irritating neighbor, an annoying sibling, or anyone else that gets under their skin. No profanity, vulgarity or violence is permitted, but other than that, almost anything goes. Later, students trade papers and vote for the best new versions. I sing the winning new lyrics in each class. It is compelling input to most students.

One caveat is not to mock the song too harshly. I once had a student whose parents had Eres Tú in their wedding and considered it their family song. They were outraged that it had been mocked. So now I tell students that they do not need to create a mean, mocking version of the song. They can also write alternative sweet lyrics to it, matching the tone of the original and occasionally tenderhearted kids take me up on it with charming results.

Please share how the activity goes when you do it with your classes.