¡Cumpleaños feliz! (4x) Happy birthday!
¡Sapo verde eres tú! (4x) You are a green toad!

If you say “Happy birthday” with a Spanish accent, it can sound something like the Spanish phrase “sapo verde” (green toad). So when a Spanish speaker hears the Birthday Song sung in English, they may fill in the missing sounds in their mind and think that the singers are saying “green toad”. Spanish speakers good-naturedly mock their own accents with this song. “Sapo verde” is now even slang for “Happy birthday” in some parts of Mexico and Central America and many people enjoy singing the “Happy Birthday” in English or in something like English instead of Spanish (check on YouTube for hundreds of examples).

I use this song to remind my students that they are not alone in this language learning thing. Just as they are learning Spanish, there are Spanish-speaking students that are learning English. We are all in this together, and if we learn to speak another language, we will be able to communicate with one another. When someone in my classroom has a birthday we sing both verses of this song to him/her. The first verse is sung sweetly and well, the second verse is sung loud and ugly. I have a big green toad hand puppet that leads the class in singing. The person with the birthday gets to keep the toad puppet on his/her desk for the rest of the class. Sounds corny, but even high school kids like the attention.


Level: Spanish I, Semester 2
Vocabulary: All is review, but focus is on “cumpleaños feliz” and “sapo verde”
Structures: me está insultando; me están diciendo; te está insultando; te están diciendo

Chico: –¡Estoy tan triste hoy!

Chica: –¿Por qué?

Chico: –¿Sabes que hoy es mi cumpleaños, verdad?

Chica: –O sí, claro. ¡Cumpleaños feliz! ¿Qué pasa? ¿Por qué estás tan triste?

Chico: –Hoy es mi cumpleaños y todo el mundo me está insultando.

Chica: –¿Qué? ¿Cómo?

Chico: –Todo el día todos me están insultando, y no me gusta.

Chica: –¿Qué te están diciendo? ¿Cómo te están insultando?

Chico: –¡Cosas feas! Cuando voy a una clase, alguien me dice algo feo. Cuando voy a otra clase, alguien me dice algo feo. Hoy en cada clase alguien me dice algo feo. Alguien me insulta.

Chica: –¡Qué triste! ¿Qué te están diciendo?

Chico: –¿No entiendes? ¡Hoy es mi cumpleaños! Y en vez de decirme algo simpático como “¡cumpleaños feliz!”, o “¡qué tengas un buen día!”, parece que todos me están insultando.

Chica: –Sí, claro. Entiendo, pero, ¿cómo te están insultando? ¿Qué te están diciendo?

Chico: –¡Todos me dicen “sapo verde”!

This is just one of the songs in the book Songs for Spanish Class, available at: https://www.brycehedstrom.com/products

Here is a sample of the content: https://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/SONGS-FOR-SPANISH-CLASS-Index-and-Sample-Pages.pdf