One of my goals this year is to try to incorporate more in-class cultural experiences for students. I’ve realized that talking about something isn’t nearly as fun as actually doing it! Most of us teachers have had opportunities to use the target language in an authentic settings. (Example: Ordering foods in a REAL restaurant, shopping in a ACTUAL market, asking for directions when we’re TRULY lost).
How can we provide more opportunities for students to have a language/culture experience?
Here are a few experiences that I’ve tried this year that got my students living out the lessons…
I wanted my students to recognize Hispanic artists and their work. I actually wanted them to appreciate the hard work and skill in these paintings. Now, a few kids are art lovers but the majority of my student were not. So as a part of this unit students got to choose a painting by one of the Hispanic artists we studied. I found a sale, used a coupon, and bought 5″x 7″ canvases for everyone. Then I invited my amazingly artistic friend into class and she taught my kids how to paint.
They had amazing results! They actually had a reason to learn specific vocab like canvas and paintbrush as they presented their painting to the class. Most of them made a comment like “Wow! This is so much harder than I thought. How did he/she paint this?!?”
We were learning about Cuba and spent a few days talking about Celia Cruz and salsa. Students weren’t really impressed with the “reina de salsa” and I need I needed them to get into the music a little to appreciate her contribution to the music!
First, we learned about the main instruments in a salsa band and I downloaded a few apps so that students could actually see what the instruments look like and recognize how they sound.
Fun, but not real enough. So I ran to the band room during my plan. It was the first time I had ever been in there actually. Come to find out, the band director had 2 big conga drums, claves, guiros, maracas…
Then we found “how to play salsa rythmn on ______” videos (in Spanish, of course!) and tried to learn!
So you get the idea!
Experiences make our units memorable and give us something to talk about.
Let’s bring our lessons to LIFE one at a time!
Share an idea for the rest of us…
What kind of experiences have you created for your students?
I too had been thinking of ways to expose my students to authentic communication exchanges. It worked out with last year’s schedule that my classes were at the same time as the ELD 1 classes. At my school, all of our ELD students are Spanish speakers. So once a month, the ELD teacher and I arranged some collaboration activity or “intercambio,” where for 10 minutes we spoke only in Spanish with one another and then only in English for another 10 minutes. We tried to set our days around the holidays whenever possible to incorporate cultural comparisons.
My students are always complaining, “S/he talks so fast!” Did you get much of that?
At the end on my unit on food (which is loaded with cultural activities because this topic is so rich in culture) we go to a real Mexican restaurant. Before this field trip I had taught them how to order a meal, how to ask for the check, how to say my fork is missing, etc. I’ve been taking the kids for years to the same restaurant so the manager knows me so he trains his waiters to speak ONLY in Spanish to my students and to “forget” to take something to the table so my kiddos can say “me falta el tenedor”. The kids LOVE this field trip and after it they tell me that every time they go to a Spanish restaurant they order in Spanish!
Love the painting idea. How many day would did you need? What kind of vocab did you use?
One I did for art was, I had students create original Haiku’s from a piece of Hispanic art work.
Hi! Could you share what the names of the apps were that you used for the musical instruments?Gracias!
Congas, salsa percussion, Piano are some that come to mind right away…
I also had my students create a self-portrait modeled after those of famous Hispanic artists- and they were very interesting! Because this was an upper level class, we had studied the vocab for discussing paintings (Realidades 3 chapter 2) and so we discussed each student’s painting as if we were looking at them in a museum gallery tour. (PS- the psychology of what comes out in the self-portraits is FASCINATING!)
I love the painting idea! Where did you find the sale on the canvases? That is great!
Hobby lobby! They sell them in 3 packs and they are half-off all the time. Gotta love a good deal!
I love the music idea. It is really a interesting way to learn. I just love this post. Thanks for sharing us.
I would like to ask your advice on something. May I email you? I am a Spanish teacher, and love reading your blog. Thanks.
We are happy to answer quick questions and guide you to links that will help! email@example.com