Today I want to share my “flags” to help you simplify life in the classroom. This is a ready-to-use system for assigning research topics and partners. Check out ways to use this huge time-saver!

I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the expert about every country/culture. If I focus on one thing that I’ve actually experienced, I’m more passionate plus I have pictures and realia available. I found that they learn a lot more from doing their own research and sharing it with the each other. So here’s how I used the “flags” as an easy system to mix it up.

  • Step 1- I start by showing them one example that connects to the target culture (that I’m familiar with if possible) OR I can bring in a guest speaker that can talk about a personal experience.
    • If it’s food, I’ll pick one that I’ve had and loved. –> Paella
    • If it’s a celebration, I’ll pick one I’ve attended. –> Día de Santiago
    • If it’s a sport, I’ll pick my favorite sport to play. –> Volleyball
  • Step 2- They draw a flag (that has the name of the country/territory on it).
  • Step 3- They research the one they pick. Now everyone has different information to share and I just add anything to focus the research.
    • Food – Find a food from that country that uses vegetables.
    • Celebration – Find a celebration in summer from that country.
    • Sport – Find 3 popular sports from that country.

That’s the idea! I show one, they research one, and then come back to share. It’s like they are representing the country when we have a discussion in class. Plus there’s a reason to listen to each other. This system is always ready to go. I don’t have to make a sign-up list of foods, celebrations or sports (which would take time for me to compile). Sure, several may research something similar- like soccer showed up for most of them for popular sports- but that is a good point to compare. Also I can always change it a little bit to get more variety (Find 2 athletes from your country, find a sport that is played indoor, an individual sport, sport from the summer Olympics).

banderas bucket

Another use I’ve found for them was pairing and grouping by adding another set. I like that they are saying “Who has Cuba? (in target language)” instead of always doing ones like “Who has a red star?” Plus they are seeing the flags and started to recognize them in videos and photos.



One more idea, there are also blank flags so you can use them as decoration on doors, walls, and boards. Bonus is that they can learn from this decor. Check out @speakinglatino on twitter for phrases. This could also be something that students help make.


What other systems do you use to assign research topics or partners? Please share below in the comments.