Improve Spanish Pronunciation: PTK (Video)

ptk pronunciation image¡PTK! The tip I share in the video below is my favorite pronunciation tip because it was SUCH a “light bulb moment” for me when I finally learned about /ptk/ in my first Spanish linguistics class. The thing is, I had already been learning Spanish for SIX years!

I have to admit, I was a bit frustrated that none of my previous Spanish teachers had taught me this and other pronunciation tips, but it also motivated me to continue studying linguistics! Now I teach my students pronunciation throughout beginning level courses, and I am (slowly…very slowly) making these YouTube videos for students to keep practicing at home.

What are your thoughts on teaching pronunciation? How important is it for Spanish language-learners, and when/how should it be taught? I´d love to read your ideas in the comments!

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Common mistakes in Spanish: Saying “to have fun”! (Video)

  My students have their first in-class compositions soon, so I finally started my “Errores comunes” video series. I’ve been keeping record of the most common mistakes I see in student compositions for a few years now, so I hope this series will be helpful! In this video, I hope to help them learn to say “divertirse” instead of “tener divertido”. Any feedback is welcome, and I would really appreciate if you give the video a “like” on Youtube or even subscribe to my channel!

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! 🙂

In the time of the Butterflies: Free Movie Guide Question Packet

las hermanas mirabal

Las hermanas Mirabal

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.

in the time of the butterflies coverJulia 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!

Link to PDF Movie Guide Question Packet In the Time of the Butterflies