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:
¿Cómo es Santa Claus en tu país?
¿Cómo es Santa Claus en otro país?
¿Cómo son diferentes y cómo son similares?
Los mandatos informales, informal “tú” commands, can be a bit challenging at first because you must remember to conjugate the verb differently depending on whether the command is affirmative (Yes! Do it! ¡Sí! ¡Hazlo!) or negative (No! Don´t do it! ¡No! ¡No lo hagas!) This cultural presentation will take you on a journey of table manners around the world while practicing affirmative versus negative tú commands.
- Practice conjugating affirmative and negative tú commands
- Practice vocabulary about food & the table
- Make cultural connections about table manners
First, conjugate the verbs in this handout: Modales Internacionales Handout
Next, check your answers and discuss the cultural customs in more detail in this Powerpoint presentation: Modales Internacionales Powerpoint
Share your reflections and what you´ve learned in the questions at the bottom of the handout. Do you think any of these tips for international table manners will come in handy someday?
The images in the presentation were adapted for educational purposes from an infographic & article by Huffingtion Post España.
Also, thank you to the Teaching & Learning Spanish Blog Facebook Page for sharing the Huffington Post article.
If you would like to share these materials, please do so by providing a link to this blog post. Thank you!
After years as a volunteer interpreter in parent-teacher conferences, I would like to share my personal top tips and phrases to effectively encourage communication between teachers and parents who speak another language, specifically Spanish. I have made this into a video (see below) so that teachers with limited or no Spanish proficiency can hear the pronunciation of the phrases.
Tips for working with an interpreter
- Briefly consult with interpreter before meeting with parents. Establish how you can work together to communicate most effectively.
- If working with an interpreter, look at the parent you are speaking to (not at the interpreter).
- Create rapport with the parent. Communication is not only through words. Your eye contact, body language, and intonation can go a long way in communicating with the parent.
- Pause frequently. Speak in sentences, not paragraphs. You must give the interpreter time to interpret! It can be hard to remember to pause once the conversation gets going, so you may want to ask the interpreter beforehand if she would like to use a subtle cue to remind you to pause. For example, the interpreter could lightly tap her finger on the table to signal a pause is needed.
- Avoid jargon. Express the big idea, not terms and unnecessary details.
- Educational systems and jargon vary across cultures. This does not mean to dull down what you are trying to say, but rather to express the meaningful information without using esoteric jargon. Not only is jargon difficult to interpret, but it also may not be meaningful to the parents due to cultural and institutional differences in education systems. If you wish to list skills students need to work on, try showing examples.
- Use visuals, such as samples of student work and visual representations of performance, such as graphs. Interacting with samples of student work can show areas of student success and areas that need progress, even without the help of an interpreter. Also, you may represent grades and performance on standardized tests with graphs or icons.
How to Invite Questions and Dialogue
- Make clear that questions and comments are welcome. For many speakers of other languages (All cultures are diverse. This is a general concept, but each person has their own perspective.), it may be culturally inappropriate to ask teachers questions. Teachers are seen as authority figures and experts, so asking a question may be seen as a criticism or question of their expertise.
Phrases to invite questions in Spanish
- ¿Usted tiene alguna pregunta? Do you have any questions?
- ¿Ustedes tienen alguna pregunta? Do you (all) have any questions? (speaking to more than one person)
- ¿alguna pregunta? any questions?
- Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarme. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Say this to further invite questions, or provide it in writing along with your contact information.
Ask questions that promote dialogue
In my experience, when teachers ask appropriate (not too personal) questions about the child´s experience in school, parents can really open up and meaningful conversation takes place. Therefore, I have found this to be the most effective strategy for promoting dialogue.
- ¿A Juan (child´s name) le gusta la escuela? Does Juan (child´s name) like school?
- ¿Qué dice Juan (child´s name) de sus clases? What does Juan (child´s name) say about his classes?
- ¿Juan (child´s name) lee en casa? Does Juan (child´s name) read at home?
- When asked this question, numerous parents have shared that although they wish to read with their child at home, they cannot because they do not speak English. Therefore, this question can be a great opportunity to dispel the misconception that one must abandon the first language in order to succeed in the target language. Research dispels this notion, rather demonstrating that reading in the first language is beneficial to learning and success in reading in the target language. You may also take this time to direct parents to where they can find children´s books in their first language. Here are some links to websites with children´s books in Spanish: Zona 33 Preescolar and Garabato. Please share other recommended resources in the comments of this post.
- ¿Juan (child´s name) necesita ayuda con algo? Does Juan (child´s name) need help with anything?
- This question has often prompted a discussion of issues outside of the classroom that teachers should be aware of, including bullying on the bus, death in the family, deportation of family members, and other experiences that are impacting the student´s life and school experience.
Thank you for reading these tips based on my personal experience as a teacher and interpreter.
What has been your experience with this topic? Please leave any questions or your own advice in the comments, as well as any useful resources.
Thank you for sharing.
Here is a video based on this post. You may use it to hear and practice the pronunciation of the Spanish questions and phrases suggested above.
Perhaps use these breathtaking natural landmarks as part of a travel unit? Have students mark them on the map and/or use authentic online travel resources to create a travel plan (plane, train, rental car, bus, hotel, restaurant reservations according to an itinerary calendar, other stops on the route). Just some ideas!
Share in the comments if these images inspired any teaching ideas for you!
Revise los siguientes infografías.
Escriba 6-8 frases comparativas que comparan y contrastan las dos tradiciones del Día de los muertos y Halloween (Día de las brujas).Review the following infographics. Write 6-8 comparative sentences that compare and contrast two traditions of Día de los muertos and Halloween.
In keeping with my TPRS challenge for the semester, here is the short story I made for ch. 8 of the textbook Unidos. (Click here for ch. 7’s story!) This (very) short story is for practicing preterit vs. imperfect as well as vocabulary based on Semana Santa in Guatemala.
Here are links to the materials I made based on the story:
Here’s a video of me reading the story. I make these to give my students (and a small number of youtube subscribers!) the option to read along with me at home.
Also, it is important to note that this story does not provide in-depth details of Semana Santa en Guatemala. My students already watched videos about it, so this story and activity sheet serve to reinforce and practice key concepts. Here are some other video resources about Semana Santa in Guatemala.
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.
The 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.
It 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! 🙂