You’ve got the planning down, but now how do you add Spanish culture lesson plans?
Spanish cultural lesson plans can be the trickiest to create, especially when under the pressure to complete the language portion of the class. Think of it this way, culture is language and language is culture. Communication is not just the words, but how and why people interact in that country is also important for communicating in the target language properly.
Culture can be as simple as learning the correct register of voice to use when speaking with a stranger versus your friend. What students are always asking for more of is the actual customs and traditions of a Spanish-speaking country. The culture part can be, and usually is, the hook that intrigues the students to learn more about the language.
1. Have a Cultural Calendar
In 2015, I created a Cultural Calendar, and it was a game changer. The legwork was done the first year, but the following years updating it is quick. In a Word document, I identified all the mayor holidays and celebrations from the Spanish-speaking countries with a link to an article, video, or information to share with the students. This calendar keeps me updated throughout the school year. For example, Día Nacional del Mate on November 30th, Fiestas Patrias de Chile on September 18th, Indigenous People Day, and so on.)
I send a free copy of the Cultural Calendar via email every month, so be sure to add your information here to get it. Plus, there are instructions to add the electronic version to your Google Calendar.
2. Cultural Presentations with Quick Activities
I also have a library of introductory cultural presentations about many topics to use throughout the year. Some ideas came from the Cultural Calendar holidays and celebrations, but others are about traditions. These presentations are in Spanish for intermediate-advanced classes and in English if I want to explain the topic to novice students. Each presentation also has a video and a couple of slides with comprehension activity.
I have identified and created about 47 cultural Google slides here.
3. Use Authentic News Articles and Media
When I see a news article, blog, video, or media from around the Spanish-speaking world that may interest students, I create 3 worksheets with activities around it: scaffolded for novice, intermediate, and advanced students. I think about what tasks students at each level can accomplish with the same resource. While some of these activities may be relevant at specific times of the year, these activities are not tied to any lesson in particular.
If you want to check them out, there are more than 75+ scaffolded cultural activities in my library.
The only scaffolded cultural lesson that for sure should go first is this audiovisual interpretative activity about cultural appropriation and cultural assimilation.
4. Host a Fair
For beginning levels of Spanish, try sticking to general cultural topics like holidays, food, or music. This will allow you to explore and touch upon many countries and give the students a sampling of what is actually out in the world. A fantastic way to incorporate these topics is to host a Feria de comida, or a Feria de música. These “fairs” break the normal classroom routine, which peaks students’ interest, but it will also allow them to really explore and get the basic idea of how each country is similar and how they are different.
These types of Spanish culture lesson plans usually take two days to complete the actual fair, but it can be pretty easy to integrate it into your normal classroom activities. Here are some tips:
1. Be sure that the topic of the fair coincides with the unit you are working on. This way, there is not a jarring change when you have the students work on their country during class.
2. Giving them time in class to work is usually beneficial. Don’t overdo it because then the students take advantage of the time given.
3. It is possible you could have the students start on their cultural fair project the first week of the unit. Give them a class period the first week and then maybe 15-20 minutes each week after until the actual fair.
4. Go with what is comfortable for you and your class.
During the actual fair, split the class into two groups. A group that presents one day and the other group that presents the next day. You can have the groups present to the whole class, or you can do a round robin presentation. The round robin is where all the presentation groups are set up and presented to a small group of students for about 6-10 minutes (depending on your class period’s length). After that time is up, the small groups will move to the next presentation, and the presenters will present again for the allotted time. The only downfall is that the students presenting will not get to hear the other presenters.
Either way, the students are learning valuable information about the Hispanic world’s culture and traditions in a fun and interesting way.
Check out these other articles about Spanish Lessons.