La Monumental Rosca de Reyes de Zacatecas: Story and Activities (preterite versus imperfect) (culture: holiday celebrations)

rosca title page imageMain 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!

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Song activity: “Sembrando flores” de Los cojolites (imperfecto del subjuntivo) (cultura y música: el son jarocho)

HB_CO_Ilustracion_SF_02 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.handout image sembrando flores

Access the PDF activity sheet and answer key with the links below:

Sembrando flores. Hoja de Actividades (activity sheet)

Sembrando flores. Clave de respuestas (answer key)

¡Qué disfruten el video y el son!

Yo soñaba: Un cuento para practicar la narración en el pasado (video & activity sheet)

Yo soñaba thumbnail image.png

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).

Yo soñaba: Hoja de actividades (activity sheet)Yo soñaba handout image

Yo soñaba. Clave de respuestas (answer key)

Thank you to Samuel García for writing and narrating the story. Samuel is an author and teacher from Zacatecas, Mexico.

¡Que disfruten el video!

Errores comunes: Ending a phrase with a preposition in Spanish (video & handout)

Errores comunes Preposition End PhraseWho’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:

HANDOUT: Errores comunes. Terminar una frase con una preposición

Try it before watching the video, try again after the lesson is finished, and then check the answer key!

ANSWER KEY Errores comunes. Terminar una frase con una preposición 

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.

“Calaverita” by La Santa Cecilia: Día de muertos themed song activity

calaverita-activity-imageThis 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.

Click here for  the free PDF activity sheet

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:

Actividad con infografías: Los comparativos – Día de los muertos versus Halloween
Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos” con actividad de escritura para practicar el pretérito vs. imperfecto

Spanish Vowel Pronunciation: My 3 Best Tips!

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?

Video: “Humano” de Lido Pimienta (Ser, la geografía, las nacionalidades)

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!

Cortometraje: “Día de los muertos” con actividad de escritura para practicar el pretérito vs. imperfecto

 día de los muertos hoja imageBefore 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.

Los tres campeones: Un cuento para practicar los verbos de cambio raíz en el pretérito

lostrescampeones ppt screenshotWelcome to the first post of my personal TRPS challenge! I am teaching SPAN 1002 at the university level this semester, anit 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.

lostrescampeones screenshotIn 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:

Cuento: “Los tres campeones” (Powerpoint)

Preguntas/ Questions Worksheet (PDF)

Preguntas/ Questions ANSWER KEY (PDF)

Video:

República Dominicana: Introductory culture presentation & activity packet

DR flag mapThe Dominican Republic holds a very special place in my heart, so I was giddy with excitement while I made this presentation to introduce my high school Spanish 1 students to Dominican culture! Please see the slideshow below (featuring many videos, made in Google drive) and free accompanying activity packet.

The activities include a beginning warm-up to activate background knowledge, content & vocabulary comprehension questions, a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast bachata & merengue, analyses of music videos to explore themes of Dominican culture, and a final discussion mini-essay.

I´d like to make a brief note about cultural presentations in general. Whenever I teach culture I do make an effort to make it as authentic as possible, but sometimes I find it quite challenging! How can I portray an entire culture in a few class sessions? Well, of course it’s not possible to cover everything. That’s why I emphasize that this is an introductory presentation and invite students to explore other themes further with questions and follow-up lessons and projects.

visa para un sueñoIt took our class one 90 minute class period (block scheduling) to cover the presentation and activity sheet (some students took the packet home to finish the final discussion question). My students were very engaged and full of questions, so I’d say it was a success!

One important topic that this presentation does not cover is the story of the Mirabal sisters and the Trujillo regime. We covered this topic later in a lesson based around the film adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies. Please follow this link to see my post about it with a free movie guide question packet!

We also watched the movie Pelotero. It’s a really fun movie, and we watched it as a reward in the last 20-30 minutes of a few class periods. Please follow this link for a post & free movie guide. (Coming soon!)

Here’s a link to the Activity Packet, and you can watch the presentation right here!

Any feedback is appreciated. Keep the comments coming! 🙂