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.
In developing a culture unit about the Dominican Republic for high school Spanish 1, my colleagues and I brainstormed about the best way to introduce and discuss the history of the Trujillo regime and the Mirabal sisters who gave their lives in the fight for justice. How could we introduce this key period of Dominican history in a way that is engaging, thought-provoking, and accurate? Furthermore, this history is one of very difficult and disturbing truths. While I am a firm believer that it is important and necessary to teach the darker episodes of history (for reasons I won’t delve into here, but would be happy to discuss in the comments), I strive to do so in the most appropriate and considerate way.
Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies has long had a place on my bookshelf as one of my favorites, so I was delighted when a colleague found a movie adaptation of the novel. We all watched the movie and decided that its depiction of the events was appropriate for our lesson. As all communities of students, parents, and administrators are different, please use your own discretion in determining if this is right for your classroom.
As Fridays were “culture days” in our FL department, we showed this movie the two Fridays following our introductory presentation on Dominican culture. (I plan to share the materials for that soon!)
The movie guide I prepared and am sharing here has three main parts. Part one provides questions for a brief warm-up and discussion to help students activate previous knowledge, part two features comprehension questions for students to answer while watching the movie, and part three features short-answer discussion questions for students to answer in writing and then discuss. Regarding part two, the comprehension questions, I have found that they do help students stay on task in the movie. Furthermore, I pause the movie frequently and go over the past two or three questions that students have answered, as well as allowing students to ask any questions that may have arisen. I have found that this method helps students to stay engaged and it also allows me to assess how well they are following the movie and understanding key concepts. My students were really full of questions about In the Time of the Butterflies! The following discussion of the movie was one of the best we had all semester, and I was truly impressed by some of their thoughtful comments while grading part three of the movie guide.
You can watch the movie right here! (Click the arrow symbol to make it full screen. I have embedded it from Hulu.com.) Since Hulu provides it for free, it does have commercials. I do believe it is available on Netflix as well.
As always, any feedback is welcome and appreciated. There is lots of room to expand upon this lesson. Please keep the comments coming!
In this activity students will use food vocabulary and make cross-cultural connections by writing about and discussing photos of families from around the world pictured with a week’s worth of groceries.
Please follow the link below to view featured works from photographer Peter Menzel’s stunning series:
These photos could be the basis for all sorts of activities and discussion! The following is just one possible lesson format that I can’t wait to try out this coming year. I will be taking my students to the computer lab for this one. Here’s the instructions:
¿Qué come la gente alrededor del mundo?
1. ¡A explorar! ¡Sigue el siguiente enlace para ver una serie fotográfica increíble! Cada foto retrata una familia con los comestibles que ha comprado para la semana.
2. Haz una tabla con los nombres de los países en cada columna (por lo menos 7 países). Bajo el nombre del país, haz una lista de la comida que ves en la foto (por lo menos 7 comidas por columna). Puedes trabajar con un compañer@.
3. Analiza la tabla y las fotos con tu compañer@.
¿Cómo se comparan?
¿Cómo se distinguen?
¿Qué te parece interesante/curioso/increíble?
¿Hay algo más que quieres saber?
¿Qué come tu familia en una semana?
4. Escribe 3 preguntas/comentarios sobre la serie fotográfica. ¡Mañana hablaremos de ellos juntos!One possible extension would be for students to create a collage of what their family eats in a week!
If you try this activity (or something similar) in your classroom, I´d love to hear how it goes!
(I didn’t want to post any pictures of the series here due to copyright/plagiarism issues. The pictures above are my own, taken before my first dinner with my host family in Costa Rica and at a great restaurant in Portland, Blossoming Lotus.)
The lyrics to the song “Latinoamérica” by the Puerto Rican musical duo Calle 13 are replete with cultural and historical references, so much so that this song could inspire a semester´s worth of classroom discussion! Furthermore, the music video [see below] is a sequence of stunningly beautiful clips depicting the people and land of Latin America. This blog post describes how I use this song as the base of a task-based cultural enrichment activity with my students and provides you with the materials to do so as well. This activity would go over best with intermediate-advanced, advanced, and heritage learners.
This pdf document: PDF “Latinoamérica” Lyrics contains a handout with the lyrics to the song. There are 7 verses which are underlined, in bold, and color-coded. First watch the video as a class and ask the students their thoughts. I begin discussion by asking for students’ interpretations of the chorus. Now the task-based part. The selected color-coded verses are seven different references to Latin American culture and/or history, as follows:
- “el amor en los tiempos del cólera” – The novel by Gabriel García Márquez. You may have students research just this novel, or a more broader presentation on the autor and his works.
- “soy la fotografía de un desaparecido” – Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo who began their protest during the Guerra Sucia (1976 – 1983) in Argentina in hopes of finding their children, who the Argentine government claimed had “disappeared.” These brave women continue their protest to this day. Their white shawls have become a symbol for the fight for human rights, the denunciation of the barbarities committed during the many dictatorships of Latin America, and the remembrance of all those who suffered during such times of political injustice.
- “soy Maradona contra Inglaterra anotándote dos goles” – The 1986 World Cup. Follow link for more information: Info about 1986 World Cup
- “la espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera” – The Andes Mountains – Students can research not only the mountains themselves, but also the ways of life of the people who inhabit this región.
- “Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada” – “Poema XX” de Pablo Neruda
- Haciendo rituales de agua bendita.
El viento que peina mi cabello.
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello. – Religions practiced in Latin America. Not only Catholicism, but also syncretic religions such as Santería.
- “La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido” – Operación Condor
Divide the class into 7 groups and have each group pick a selected verse to research and present to the class. I give my students one class period to work on this in class in the computer lab as well as additional days outside of class to prepare the presentation. The students use Powerpoint or Prezi to create a visual.
This is my first blog post of this nature, so I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions. For now, enjoy this breath-taking music video!
[UPDATE]: I would like to give a huge thank you to all of you who have commented! I really appreciate your feedback, and your suggestions have helped me to greatly improve this activity! The activity sheet is now in its third version.