Main Street is closed for the whole city to enjoy 2 kilometers of cakes! Yes, this really happened! I came upon this scene January 7th of last year in Zacatecas, Mexico, and have been wanting to share this fun celebration the day after Día de Reyes with my students ever since. The result: this read-along video story (narrated by a native speaker from Zacatecas) and accompanying handout for story-based activities. I hope you will find it useful to incorporate into a unit on holidays, for targeted practice for preterite versus imperfect, and/or as a reading comprehension activity.
The following activity sheet features 5 components:
Vocabulario – quick prep for understanding key words in the story
Comprehensión de lectura
Conversación y escritura– retelling the narration to solidify comprehension and practice narration in the past tense
Gramática – Preterite versus imperfect cloze activity
Conexiones y culturas – internet search for other celebrations and written description of other ways Día de Reyes is celebrated
Download the PDF here! Rosca story activity sheets (2 pages)
Here´s the video…
And here´s a PDF with just the text of the story: La Monumental Rosca de Reyes de Zacatecas Printable Story
Also, teachers, if you would like to download this story as a Powerpoint or a PDF for a printable book for your classroom, I have uploaded a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers! Click here!
Any feedback is welcome in the comments!
In this activity, students practice using the imperfect subjunctive in indirect speech, including a writing prompt to add verses to the song.
Also, conversation prompts based on the video and music are a great jump start for cultural discussion of the son jarocho.
For more information about the son jarocho, NPR´s All Things Considered has a great 8 minute episode on the topic. Also, www.sonjarocho.com provides detailed readings in both English and Spanish about this musical genre from Veracruz, Mexico.
Access the PDF activity sheet and answer key with the links below:
¡Qué disfruten el video y el son!
This relaxing story is a great way to practice narration in the past (preterite and imperfect) and calm down a rowdy classroom!
You can download PDFs of the free activity sheet and answer key below. The writing prompt on the handout can also be modified as a conversation activity (or as both).
Thank you to Samuel García for writing and narrating the story. Samuel is an author and teacher from Zacatecas, Mexico.
¡Que disfruten el video!
Who’s that present for? Who did you go to the movies with? Sure, grammar rules tell us not to end sentences with prepositions in English, but we hear it all of the time!
Spanish, on the other hand, is a different story. This contrast leads us to such mistakes as “*Quién es este regalo para?”
In this video lesson, I explain how to understand and fix the common error of ending phrases with prepositions in Spanish.
Want to test your knowledge before you get started? Here is a free handout:
Try it before watching the video, try again after the lesson is finished, and then check the answer key!
Enjoy the video!
Also, here is the lyric video for the song I mention in the video, “¿Con quién se queda el perro?” by Jesse &Joy.
This song activity is great for a Día de muertos unit! Also, for my more advanced students in a Spanish Conversation and Composition course, I used this activity together with the story “El otro círculo” by Luis R. Santos (as featured in our textbook, Revista). We compared our analyses of both the story and the song to discuss different cultural perspectives about death presented through literature, art, music, etc.
Enjoy the video below!
As always, I would love to hear about it in the comments if you use this activity in your classroom!
Here are some links to my other Día de muertos themed activities:
In this video I share the 3 tips I use to explain Spanish vowel pronunciation.
Follow up comprehension questions:
(1)What are the 5 vowels in Spanish?
(2) What is a tense vowel? Which vowels are tense in Spanish?
(3) What is an example of a vowel sound that we use in English but not in Spanish?
See below for answers.
1. A, E, I, O, U
2. Our muscles are more tense and engaged when we pronounce tense vowels. All vowels in Spanish are tense vowels (A, E, I, O, U).
3. Answers will very. Some include the “A” in “cAt,” the “I” in “kId” or “fIt,” the “uh” in “bUg” or a relaxed pronunciation of “edUcation.”
I have found that when students are able to answer these questions about Spanish vowel pronunciation, they are able to analyze and self-correct their own pronunciation.
By answering these questions, students demonstrate that they know which vowels to stick to, which vowel sounds to avoid, and physically how Spanish vowels are pronounced in contrast with the lax vowels in English pronunciation that so often interfere with their Spanish pronunciation.
This tense vs. lax distinction is superior to the “short” versus “long” vowel explanation commonly found in textbooks because it allows students to make a physical connection to the vowel pronunciation (by placing the hand on the cheek to feel the tense cheek muscles.)
Furthermore, vowel length is variable, so the “short” versus “long” distinction can be unclear and cause confusion.
Do you have any other tips you think should be included in Spanish vowel pronunciation instruction?
I have been using the song “Humano” by Lido Pimienta for years after seeing it on Zachary Jones´ fabulous website. (Click here for a link to Zachary Jones´ post about this song.) I made this video of the song to visually reinforce geography by showing country names and images as she sings each nationality, as well as conjugations of SER and adjective agreement (humano vs. humana). I have also found that projecting a visual aid helps keeps students focused during such a soothing song. Enjoy the video!
Before you enjoy this enchanting short film, I´d like to share a wonderful article that has helped me tremendously in teaching the preterit/imperfect. I read it in an applied linguistics class with an amazing professor! Here´s a link to the article, “Preterite/Imperfect Half-Truths: Problems with Spanish Textbook Rules for Usage” by Diana Frantzen.
I also use timelines visually reinforce the concept because that´s what helped me finally understand it. Although, also based on my experience, I think the real key to mastering preterit/imperfect is through authentic communication. Well, that´s true for most everything in language learning actually!
Here´s a link to a PDF worksheet for a writing activity based on the short film: Hoja de actividades: Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos”
¡Y ahora al cortometraje! The vivid imagery is perfect to inspire students to write descriptions using the imperfect, and although only 3 minutes, there are plenty of events to list to practice the preterit. Once students have time to brainstorm their own ideas, we go over them together. I draw a timeline on the board and mark the events as specific points. As students describe the settings/characters, I make squiggly lines in different colors along the timeline. Finally, students combine the descriptions with the narration of events to write a short story based on the short film.
I also recommend this video by the Travel Channel.
Welcome to the first post of my personal TRPS challenge! I am teaching SPAN 1002 at the university level this semester, and it is my goal to make at least one story for each chapter of an appropriate length that incorporates as much of the target vocabulary and grammar for the chapter as possible. (We begin with chapter 7 of the Unidos textbook by Pearson.) Where’s the challenge? To create one coherent story that includes all (or most) of the target elements for the chapter. As you will see, in order to include everything my first story turned out pretty strange, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. (I hope not! What do you think?) I’m hoping that the unusual elements will help the story “stick.” My classes always go better when the students get a chance to laugh.
I also plan to make a Youtube video reading each story so students can read along at home if they’d like. I hope this might be a fun way to review for the final at the end of the semester.
In class, first we read the story together. I teach a hybrid course, so students have already seen the vocabulary and practiced verb conjugations in their assigned online activities. Next, students got in groups of 2-3 (in which at least one person had a laptop to view the powerpoint) and read the story together at their own pace. Finally, for the comprehension and written output component I gave them a handout of questions to be answered in complete sentences. They could choose to continue to collaborate with their small group (most did) or to work individually.
Here are all of the materials: