Valentine’s Day is this week! and although the celebration varies throughout the Spanish-speaking world it is always nice to do something with your students on this day so they can learn and have fun with new vocabulary.
This is an idea I got from a colleague years ago and I have adapted it for my classroom. For this activity, the students are to come up with things that just can’t be with out something else – so for example – peanut butter with out jelly or Spongebob without Patrick. The students then brainstorm a list of things in English and then write a poem in Spanish. I don’t usually EVER do translating, but my students are novices, so their vocabulary is still very limited and I emphasize and teach how to use a dictionary, not a translator, which in the end is a great skill for language learners.
The students just love this activity and in the end learn a ton of vocabulary. Their end product is a Valentine poem on a card. This activity can be purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers in a word document format so you can adapt it as needed.
What is really cool about this activity as well is that all of the languages at our school do this at the same time. They are all posted on a bulletin board and we do a follow up activity where the students see the similarities and differences between Latin, French and Spanish.
Do you have your students do anything special for El día de San Valentín? Do you ever do cross-language activities? Please share!
Have you jumped on the Navidad commercial wagon yet? As a way to incorporate more authentic listening to our students we began showing them commercials from Spanish-speaking countries as a way to introduce and practice new vocabulary and look at different aspects of culture. With our transition to more culturally themed units and our discussion of holiday traditions in Latin America and Spain commercials are a perfect fit and the students LOVE them!
I teach Spanish 1 and you might be wondering how one might use an authentic commercial at this level if they are often very fast paced. The answer is to change the TASK not the resource! I now only use authentic audio (commercials, songs, shorts) in my lessons and the students vocabulary and listening comprehension has soared to new heights. The trick is to pick just one or two things to focus on during the listening and to keep it SIMPLE!
Some examples of tasks Spanish 1/novice students can do…
- circling or checking off vocabulary words they hear
- circling or checking off images of things they see
- a cloze (fill in) activity
- writing the words they recognize
- circling or checking off the aspects of culture present in the video
- answering comprehension questions in English
- answering comprehension question using true/false statements
Need some inspiration for your holiday unit? Here is a listing of commercials from all over the Spanish-speaking world!
La Noche de Las Velitas is the official start of the holiday season in Colombia. It is a very special night in which families gather to light candles and lanterns in honor the Immaculate Conception. The festivities begins at sunset on 7th December and ends at sunrise on 8th December. People place paper lanterns and candles on their windowsills porches, balconies, streets, sidewalks, squares and parks.
Here is a video with more info!
In my 8th grade classes we do a unit on December holidays and focus on holidays in Colombia and Spain. We begin the unit by talking about holidays they celebrate and the first holiday we learn about is this one. One special video we watch is this Home Center video – it is a great video to build vocabulary and if you have higher level students talk about indigenous tribes, environment and giving back to the community.
Here are two activities I do with La Noche de Las Velitas – one reading and one listening. Do you teach December holidays? Which ones?! Share below!
I came across this funny song about Acción de Gracias while searching for authentic ways to introduce this topic. It covers a lot of vocabulary the students will be practicing in the coming days in our unit on celebrations.
A word of caution – it does mention “digestivos” which is an after dinner drink – I decided to use it anyways as 1. My students don’t know what that is even in English and 2. It can also mean something that can help you use the bathroom so in the event they did ask that is what I would tell them and 3. My activities are really focused on food so they don’t even have time to think about what that word is. I made an activity for it and if you’re interested it can be found here.
Do you do a unit on Thanksgiving? Do you use any authentic resources to supplement your lessons?
To give or not give vocabulary lists… this seems to be a pretty hot topic and I’ll share with you all what works for our program and maybe you can share some ideas in the comments below!
We are totally on board with 90%+ Spanish, we do the circle, we’ve tossed the book but we decided as a team to keep our cultural units along with reference sheets for the students. Why? 1. Because they appreciated having something to reference while working on assignments at home and the dictionary sites aren’t always easy for them to use and 2. their parents, caregivers and liaisons wanted something to reference if they were helping their student practice or do an assignment.
What do you do?
It has been a long time since I’ve posted here! A lot has changed since I posted regularly and I can’t wait to share with you all of the things that have changed in my teaching practice since then.
Let’s talk about staying relevant and student buy in. I don’t use a text book – why? well when I used the text book I always felt like my curriculum was a boring, rigid with little wiggle room for creativity and authenticity. For me, culture should be the means by which we teach the language because those two can’t and shouldn’t be disconnected. I also have strong feelings about English being used more than the Target Language in classroom. So, about 5 years ago tired of trying to find balance with the book I said GOODBYE and began my own journey in creating a culturally relevant thematic curriculum. It has been challenging, but I am so lucky that I have the support of my department and my PLC and no one telling me I shouldn’t! And… the results have been pretty amazing!
I am excited to teach.
No more front loading of boring topics and grammar terms – culture and authentic resources first!
The students are HAPPY and EAGER to learn.
I will share more on how I started this journey in future posts – but now let’s talk Acción de Gracias or Thanksgiving. It is coming up quick! Do you talk about this in your classes? Why or why not?
In my 1A classes, we will be soon starting a unit on Celebrations – this includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Posadas, New Year and many, many more as we have a very diverse population and are always cognizant of including everyone so they can have something to talk about too! We started this unit a few years ago and felt it was a perfect fit for us because it is the time of year where many holidays are celebrated and there is holiday decor, signs and commercials everywhere so it is hard not to talk about celebrations. Students enjoy talking about things that are current and apply to them AND we connect it with how holiday time is celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries. There are SO many resources out there that talk about Thanksgiving in Spanish, how Thanksgiving is celebrated in places like Puerto Rico and how Latinos in the US celebrate Thanksgiving here with their own toque latino!
If you’re looking into incorporating Acción de Gracias here are some authentic resources to get you started. Here is a vocabulary reference sheet (yes, I still give these – more on why later) if you’re interested. Stay tuned on how I use these!
El Pavochón, una variante puertorriqueña para Acción de Gracias | Noticiero | Telemundo
Hispano ayuda por años a su comunidad en “Acción de Gracias” | Noticiero | Noticias Telemundo
I’m always looking for fun games to play in the classroom. Students love it and when done right it is a fantastic way to get the kids up and out of their seats and learning the language in a fun way. I have struggled though with finding enough games so I can play with them frequently enough without them getting bored of the same old thing. I recently started watching Ellen! Did you know she plays a game with her guests and/or audience pretty much every episode?! So many great games to choose from that can be adapted for the language class!
Hear are a few that I found to be great for the classroom
1. Heads Up! (this is an app but you can always make your own cards and have students play in groups – there is a Spanish version and one with just pictures too!)
2. 5 second rule – have students name 3 things in different categories in under 5 seconds. I already started my list and have 8grado_Endofyear_5secondrule already!
3. 60 seconds – Students answer as many questions as possible in 60 seconds. Student with most questions answered at the end wins.
You can find more examples of her games http://www.ellentv.com/tags/Games/
What games do you play in class!?
I really enjoy finding new ways for my students to learn vocabulary! Long gone are the days of boring powerpoint presentations and vocabulary lists. Students truly enjoy exploring authentic media and there’s no better way to learn vocabulary than to experience it hands on.
Yesterday we started a new unit on food with my Novice Level 1 students. I’ve presented this vocabulary in a variety of ways but last year thought that it would be interesting to see what students came up with if I asked them to create their own vocabulary lists (with guidance and structure por supuesto). I provided them with a list of supermarket websites and told them to find 6 items (or more) for each food group. The students had so much fun looking through the sites and online catalogs and seeing how currencies work in different countries. They also discovered some food items they’ve never seen here before so that is always a great conversation starter.
Here is the list I gave them – do you have any favorite supermarket sites? Share them in the comments!
I’ve known about google forms for quite some time now but never really used it in my classroom. This year my students were all given chrome books so doing any online/tech activity is really easy now! In years past I always had a warm up on the board and the students either wrote down their answers on a calentamiento handout and this year I had them do it on a shared google doc – what a nightmare… It was such a tedious task. Last week I said to myself – why am I doing this? What is the point!? So I decided it was time for change.
Change is good! I had the students delete their warm-up document completely and explained to them why I was doing this. I told them that we will be using google form from now on because it is SO MUCH BETTER!!!!!!! Why is it so much better!? Well let me tell you! You can add videos, pictures, audio – anything! It’s awesome because there are so many great authentic texts, videos, songs, etc out there and almost no time to have them do stuff with them! And now I can! And what is even better…. google form creates a spreadsheet with all of their answers – and if you use flubaroo (will post about this soon) it will grade it for you! Whaaaat…. so amazing!
Here are some examples of some google forms I’ve done this past week! Feel free to use- BUT MAKE SURE YOU MAKE A COPY – OTHERWISE I WILL GET YOUR STUDENT’S RESPONSES!
Have you used google form before? How? Would love to hear how you’ve used it 🙂 🙂 🙂
Here is a list of videos I came across for la Navidad y el Día de los Reyes. I don’t have any cloze activities for these yet but I thought I’d share anyways. Enjoy!
The girl in this video is just PRECIOUS 🙂
This one is about los Reyes
Coca- Cola – Families apart on Christmas
El año viejo en Colombia
Navidad En San Cipriano
What videos do you use for this unit????