I hope you are still enjoying your winter break! If you are ready to start planning, I have 3 posts this week that are full of resources and ideas that I use during the first week back in January. I find my most successful lessons have an experience that introduces them to a new product, practice and perspective from another culture. So first day back, here’s what we did last year.

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We started off with a little acting…  I focused on 5 traditions from Spanish-Speaking countries: packing suitcase and walking around block, eating beans/lentils, eating 12 grapes, throwing water out the window, and best for last… wearing yellow underwear. I kept all these hidden to keep the element of surprise. I called up one or two students, pointed to where the tradition was popular, showed the item, then asked them to do the activity. It was great! I even played a video of the Campanadas in Madrid (12 bell tolls) while they tried to eat the grapes.

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polar plunge

Then they did a gallery walk about traditions from around the world. I hung up articles with pictures and infographics around the room. I could have just posted on a class website, but I wanted them up and moving. When I was on a cart, I just let them pass things like this around or asked them to hang them for me. Another variation: You could assign a country to small groups to become “experts” on the topic and present a Pecha Kucha about it to the whole class.

Click on the “Año Nuevo” tab on the Chipas page for all the resources I used for this lesson.

Tradiciones del mundo

When they walked around, they pulled out as many details as they could. Some worked together, others alone. Their choice. I asked them to jot notes about each one and try to figure out the 5 Ws – who does what, where, when and why. Next time I will give them a map to lightly color in the countries that they read about. AKA geography connection.

Mapa de África

Then we came back together to see what they understood. I projected each tradition on the white board and a few students came up to the board to circle the main words they pulled to write the summary. I asked them to identify some new words they saw repeatedly. They listed words like luck, participate, part, can (puede), moments, try, and so much more. The pictures and context really helped them to figure out the vocabulary. No list needed.

Then I could get them to really think about these traditions. In TL: Why would they jump in cold water as a tradition? What does this reflect about their culture? Would that tradition be popular in another country, like here? Why/Why not?


Any other resources you use about New Year’s traditions? Especially in other languages! Please share the links in the comments.