Posted in culture

Holiday traditions in Costa Rica

Las fiestas en Costa Rica powerpoint

I rounded out my cultural background with a slideshow of holiday traditions in Costa Rica.  I previously had a unit with birthday and wedding traditions.  I made sure to include the fact that there are Jewish people in Costa Rica as well.  I believe it is important to focus on different groups in countries or students believe that everyone in Costa Rica is Catholic. After using this powerpoint, I used some of Courtney’s great Navidad bonanza activities.  I like that my students after this unit had more of a grasp of Costa Rican traditions in particular.  What are your students currently loving?  Share your thoughts with me!

Posted in Authentic resources, culture

Incorporating more culture throughout my celebration unit

Incorporating Culture Celebrations

With a recent #langchat, I am also inspired to be more purposeful about my incorporation of culture into my lessons.  BOY!  Is it a lot of work!!  Seriously, I encourage people to do this one unit at a time.  Even so, I am excited at the cohesion to my unit.  I decided to talk about Costa Rica because I could find a fair amount of information.  My final goal for the unit is that students can describe a party or festival that they attended in Costa Rica.  They will have to include cultural pieces as well as be able to describe the party.

First, we started with weddings.  I included an introduction about wedding traditions.  I am lucky to teach in a rather progressive school.  I did want to include the facts on gay marriage without taking a stand one way or another.  I do think that this is important when talking about weddings for all students and families.

Next, I wanted students to plan a birthday party.  I used different online resources for students to explore to buy a cake, gift, food and piñata.  I thought about not including a piñata because it seems more stereotypical; however, I found it frequently when I was exploring birthday party celebrations.

However, I have to confess that not all of my activities are cultural.  In this unit, we cover different relationships.  I had to include Taylor Swift’s song: Nunca volveré contigo!  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made a quick activity for it.  Here it is:

nunca volvere contigo

Posted in culture, Reading

Año Nuevo- Tweets y Tradiciones

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Some teachers debate about whether or not to discuss Christmas since not all students celebrate Christmas.  I prefer to discuss New Year since almost all of your students will celebrate New Years!  A few people have already started tweeting their New Year’s Resolutions, and they are easy to read for beginners.  I also put together a list of a few Latin American and Spanish traditions for the New Year.  I am going to give students a free homework pass if they bring in a picture of themselves completing one of these activities.  I know students will find it interesting to learn about all of the different traditions.  What do you share about el Año Nuevo with your students?

año nuevo tweets y tradiciones

Posted in culture

Veteran’s Day

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Today, I was blessed to go to Arlington National Cemetery for Veteran’s Day.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and it reminds us of the importance of saying Thank You to our veterans.  If you would like to continue to find out more information about Latinos in the military, here are some links:

Recognizing generations of Latino vets

Information about some of the first Latino veterans in the military

Latinos in the army

Posted in culture, Music

Liga Venezolana de Beisbol

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I have used this song about baseball for a few years; however, today, I decided to find out more information about the Venezuelan leagues they are singing about.  They have a website for the whole league, and each team also has their own website.  They are currently in season.  Most of these questions are related to current events, so you may have to revise them if you use this later.  I am excited to round out my listening activity with more questions about the league.  I am including my revised worksheet below with the new questions and the song activities.


Posted in culture, Reading

Halloween plans

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I finally finished my Halloween plans!  I think they are a good mix of culture and fun.

  1. First, we are going to start with the candy warm-up, and everyone will earn a lollipop.
  2. Then, I have written a story for El Sombrerón.  It is a Guatemalan legend about a little man who seduces women until they cannot eat or sleep, and they die.  I think it is a scary enough story for middle schoolers without being too graphic.  I included my version at the end of this post.  They have to draw the story once they are done.  We are also going to watch this video, which is an animated version of the story.  It is very easy to understand.
  3. Finally, I am going to let them take pictures of themselves and play with the PicMonkey program to change their pictures to a Day of the Dead theme.

I can’t wait to celebrate!

el sombrerón

Posted in culture, Reading

Candy for Halloween

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After seeing this post about Chupa Chups, I bought a set for my class at Target!  However, I am not the type of teacher to just give away candy because it is Halloween.  You must EARN your lollipop!  I found this infographic in Spanish about Chupa Chups.  It is understandable for my Spanish 1B and II students.  I am going to have my Spanish 1A students just research these questions in English.  Here are my questions for my students:

  1. Who founded Chupa Chups?
  2. Where did Chupa Chups start?
  3. How many flavors are there?
  4. In 1969, who redesigned the logo?
  5. What is one of his famous paintings in the National Gallery of Art?*
  6. When the company expanded internationally, what were the first two countries where they expanded?
  7. Which celebrities have promoted the company (at least 2)?
  8. What does “chupar” mean in Spanish?*
  9. Once you finish these questions, you must show them to your teacher and ask in Spanish for the flavor that you want.

*These two questions are not on the website.  We visit the NGA which is why I included that question.  You can omit it or use a museum by your students.

Hope your students earn their candy even on Halloween!

Posted in culture, Warm-up activity

Warm-up activity: Secret country

I found this warm-up activity on the Busy Teacher website (which I love!)  It is perfect for Spanish!  You can start to describe what people are doing in a secret country that speaks Spanish.  You could start by talking about traditional foods from that country, famous people from the country etc.  As students guess different countries, you can add more obvious facts such as the capital, the political leader, and surrounding countries.  I love this idea before having students listen to a song from that country because It is a great introduction.  You could also bring in something authentic to share from that country or show a slideshow of pictures.  I read Teach Like a Pirate this summer, and one thing that the author mentions is building suspense.  This activity would build excitement and suspense for any country.  The possibilities are endless!  Have you tried something like this?  How did it work?

Posted in culture, Listening, Speaking

Calling on students

Yesterday, I decided on a new way to call on students.  We were practicing numbers, so I gave each student a telephone number from Spain.  (I picked mostly fast food restaurants.)  Then, I would read a pair of numbers.  Each pair came to the front and did a quick exchange of their birthday in Spanish.  It was great to continue to practice numbers in a new way.  Plus, it was interesting for students to see what a phone number would look like in Spain.  I would also add that I only teach 10 students.  If you have a larger class, you could call two to three pairs a class.  It would get tiresome to listen to 15 of these exchanges- at five, we were bordering on too long.  Do you use other ways to call on students that pertain to your unit?

Posted in culture

Practicing dates? Use Independence Days!

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I wanted my students to practice dates in Spanish, but I wanted a new twist with some more cultural information.  I decided to write down all of the countries’ independence days in Spanish!  Students have to write down the date in Spanish and then, they have to match the country on the map.  I am excited to incorporate more culture into this activity, and I know that we will have conversations about how many countries have their independence day on September 15th.  Happy Independence Day!

Días de la indepencia