Spanish TV Shows to Use in Spanish Class

Spanish TV Shows to Use in Spanish Class

Inside: Spanish TV shows: a list of series you can (hopefully!) use in class.  

 

If you’d mentioned movies or shows to me as a new teacher, I’d have assumed you meant how we teachers sometimes use them (hey, we’ve been there right?): that last day before winter break, when the stack of grading gets too high, or a weird testing day when half the class is gone. 

Since then, I’ve realized just how amazing Spanish TV shows in class can be. We can bring native speakers straight into our classrooms. We can travel to different places and cultures. I can get them hooked onto authentic resources they’ll remember for years.

When using Spanish shows in class, I vary my approaches depending on the circumstances.  Sometimes I incorporate a lot of extra activities, because when it comes to TV, it’s not just “listening practice.” As my classes get invested in the characters, and story, it’s a really great chance to have rich discussions and readings. If the show if not immediately comprehensible to them, it takes these extra activities to turn the show into meaningful input.

Sometimes, though, if I’m sure the language is accessible, I let them get absorbed and try not to pause too often. At the end of Spanish 2, one year, we were getting frazzled and sort’ve limping to the end. I enacted a Spanish-only rule, and told the class that every day, for the rest of the year, I would write “10” on the board. That meant 10 minutes of Extra, at the end of class. If I heard English, I erased a minute. If I slipped into English, I added a minute.

It was so much fun, and served two purposes: motivation, and input. Because, as we all know: if it ain’t compelling, they aren’t acquiring much. That’s why a good show is gold.

I used to use a lot of isolated listening “practice” clips that my students totally dreaded. Part of reason they dreaded those clips was that they had no relation, no meaning we cared about. But give them an interesting show, and they can’t get enough. Why? Because they care about the plot and the people. 

 

FREE SPANISH TV SHOWS

 

 See my Spanish movies and shows page for many more Spanish-language suggestions, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 

1. Mi Vida Loca

 

Designed for absolute beginners, BBC produced this free show to introduce basic language, the kind you would need to get around town while traveling. Set up as an interactive mystery show, my students really got into this one and didn’t mind that it’s a tiny bit outdated. This is a perfect end-of-the-year treat when students are getting restless, or to watch over the summer and keep up the language from Spanish 1. If you click on the link above, you can watch interactive lessons. If you don’t have flash, you can also use the episodes on YouTube. 

Level: Novice-Low and up
Episodes: 22

 

 

2. Extra

 

A loose spin-off of the sitcom Friends, Extra is fantastic for beginners, in the sense that it provides compelling, highly comprehensible input. My students loved it and by April it was the perfect little reward to watch at the end of class, a bit each day. 

However, I feel that it’s often awkward and borders on inappropriate, even for high school. I usually kept my clicker in hand and skipped awkward parts; you can preview and use your judgement. 

Level: Novice-High and up (with support)
Episodes: 10

 

 

3. Destinos

 

Destinos is a bit dated, but if you can get past that, it’s a great resource! Follow a lawyer around the world as she tries to solve a mystery and travels the world in search of answers. This is a great way to get immersed in Spanish in the context of a telenova, with culture thrown in too.

Level: Novice-High and up (with support). 
Episodes: 52

 

 

4 ¿Eres tú, María?

 

Created by Realidades for Spanish beginners, this is another (somewhat dated) mystery show. 

Level: Novice-Mid and up
Episodes: 10

 

 

5. La Catrina 

 

A 17-year-old Hispanic-American studies in Mexico for the summer.

Episodes: 14
Level: Novice-High and up (with support)

 

 

6. Violetta

 

Many teachers showed Disney’s Violetta– about a musically gifted teen who moves to Buenos Aires– when it was on Netflix, but it’s since been removed. Most of the DVDs on Amazon seem to be foreign (do you hear us, Disney/Amazon? We want to give you our money), but there are episodes available on Vimeo and YouTube (I have no idea how long these will be there). 

 

 

SPANISH TV SHOWS ON NETFLIX

 

All of these are authentic shows, and only truly “comprehensible” to Intermediate-Mid or High and up. However, many teachers have developed materials (readings, discussion, guides, etc) to make the material more accessible to their students. 

Most of those materials are not currently available to purchase or download, but 

 

1. El Internado (The Boarding School)

 

Students in an isolated boarding school become involved in mysterious events and dark secrets from the past, as friendships and loyalties are tested. (Sidenote: I haven’t watched the wholes series. It’s VERY popular among many amazing teachers, who choose to skip over some scenes. There is language, and if you put on English subtitles, the language gets translated more strongly than in the original Spanish. I didn’t feel comfortable using it in my own classroom, but you decide!)

Check the following resources if you plan to use the series:
Kara Jacobs
WilliamsonCI
Mis Clases Locas

 

2. El Tiempo Entre Costuras

 

El tiempo entre costuras is a mini-series based off the novel of the same name. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it follows a  Spanish seamstress who ends up in Morrocco after an ill-fated love affair, and eventually gets caught up between spies in Franco’s Spain.

This is one of my very favorite Spanish TV shows, and I’ve used it in class along with a study of the Spanish Civil War. The first few episodes have some scenes I skip, but it is generally a clean show and one I love using. 

 

 

3. Gran Hotel

 

Set at the turn of the century, a young man applies for a job at a hotel to investigate his sisters’ disappearance. Forbidden romance, intrigue, and danger follows as the truth comes to light. 

Here are resources from Mis Clases Locas for using the show. Though it has scenes I would skip, it’s one of the cleaner shows out there and so good. 

 

 

4. Soy Luna

 

An Argentine telenovela produced in partnership with Disney, this series is currently on Netflix. A teenage girls who loves to skate moves to Buenos Aires with her parents. I haven’t watched the entire show, but it looks appropriate for middle school and along the veins of Violetta. (If this isn’t available for you in the U.S., you still may be able to access it by adjusting the VPN on your device.) 

 

 

5. Rebelde

 

Six different teenagers– all interested in music– attend an exclusive private school together. Preview this one before using at school. 

 

 

5. Silvana sin Lana

 

A wealthy family’s life comes crashing down when the dad leaves and their fortune is lost. The mother must get a real job and the kids have to adjust to a “normal” life. I haven’t seen this one to the end, but the first episodes are pretty clean and funny. 

 

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Spanish TV Shows for Class

Spanglish Movies and Series on Netflix

Spanglish Movies and Series on Netflix

Inside: Spanglish movies and series on Netflix. 

 

In the U.S., languages other than English have a way of dying. By the second or third generation, Italians and Swedes had generally lost their native speech, but some speculate Spanish may prove to be the an exception

Spanglish could be seen as a slippery slope of mixed language, such that heritage speakers lose their Spanish. If that’s all kids hear, it’s certainly a possibility. But for my part, I love the influx of Spanglish into American media and pop culture. Spanglish is my life. A third pure English, a third pure Spanish, and a third Spanglish. 

So when Netflix start airing shows with Spanglish families like mine, I watch. I like seeing my world on screen and I think it says to my kids: Spanish is something to celebrate. Multilingualism is a great thing. 

And also… some of you are in Spanglish relationships. You may love Spanish-language shows, but perhaps your partner isn’t so excited about reading subtitles for the next month. Here’s your compromise!

 

Spanglish Movies and Shows

 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update! This is a mix of family-friendly series and not-so-family-friendly, so please be sure to click on the title and check ratings. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 

1. Jane the Virgin 

 

Three generations of Latinas living under one roof star in this amazing Spanglish show. Jane’s world is forever turned upside down when she’s accidentally inseminated by her gynecologist. What ensues is a mostly light-hearted (but often poignant) story of how different generations, cultures, and genders come around Jane’s new life and baby. Anyone who has watched telenovelas will appreciate the purposely humorous and dramatic references throughout the show. 

 

 

2. Un Día a la vez (One Day at a Time) 

 

It’s hard not to love this show! Again, here we have three generations under one roof, this time a Cuban-American family, working out life, culture, and family together. This is truly a Spanglish show, with dialogue going back and forth between languages as different generations communicate. This is a family-friendly show (TV-PG) you might be able to watch with your older kids. 

(One thing I love is that several characters try to learn more Spanish, and are shown making an effort to keep up with their heritage or new language.)

 

 

3. Narcos

 

Completely switching genres, Narcos follows the pursuit of Pablo Escobar and other drug lords in Colombia. Unlike several previous shows, this one is told entirely from the American perspective. Gritty and suspenseful, Narcos is one of those series that pulls you in and is hard to turn off. 

 

 

4. Casa de Mi Padre

 

Ok, Casa de Mi Padre is technically all in Spanish, but since Will Ferrell isn’t a native speaker I’m claiming it as Spanglish material. Playing on every telenovela stereotype out there, this one will be funniest for those who are familiar with both U.S. and Latino culture and humor.

How to know if you’ll like it? Well, if you like both Will Ferrell and Gael García Bernal… this one’s for you. 

 

 

5. Entre Nos

 

Based on a true story, a Colombian mother travels New York with her two children, only to be abandoned by her husband once there. She must improvise and find a way to survive on her own, by collecting cans in the city trash.

 

 

6. Ladrones

 

When a wealthy woman steals land from a group of hard-working Texan families, they seek help from a legendary Robin Hood pair in Mexico to steal the title back. A funny, action-packed movie not meant to be taken too seriously. Watch when you’re in the mood to watch the good guys triumph and the bad guys get what they deserve. 

 

 

What other Spanglish series and movies can I add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Spanglish shows on Netflix

 

 

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

 Inside: The best Netflix Spain movies. 

 

Netflix, with its ever-expanding range of options, has a growing selection of made-in Spain movies and shows. I’ve got some great titles for you here, whether you’re a native speaker or looking to keep up your Spanish skills. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update!

 

NETFLIX SPAIN MOVIES

 

Ready? Let’s get started.

 

1. Contratiempo (Invisible Guest)

 

A wealthy businessman is accused of murder and seeks the help of a famous lawyer to mount a defense as the last hours of his trial wind down. His storytelling of those events takes us down a darkening path of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. I multitasked quite a bit while preparing this blog post and watched movies, but this movie had my full attention, and me on the edge of my seat. If you like suspense, this is a must-watch with incredible acting.

Info: Mystery, Thriller | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

 

2. Perdiendo el Norte (Off Course)

 

A light-hearted comedy about two Spaniards who can’t find a job in Spain (despite being over-qualified on paper). Fed up with Spanish life, they move to Berlin in hopes of finding work, only to end up in a café. Life in Berlin comes with new romance, but also a host of cultural differences to navigate.

Info: Romantic Comedy | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2015

 

 

3. Fe de Etarras (Bomb Scared)

 

Four Basque terrorists are trying to plan an attack on Spain. They wait for orders from “above,” in a Spanish apartment, and have to deal with everyday life and neighbors while unsure of the future. A dark comedy that was surprisingly compelling and funny. 

Info:  Comedy  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2017

 

 

4. Spanish Affair (Ocho Apellidos)

 

“Cuando el sur y el norte chocan, el conflicto alcanza proporciones épicas.” Spanish culture collides when a Sevillian falls for a woman from Basque– even though he’s never before left his hometown. I didn’t love the chemistry between the main actors, but still enjoyable and cute. 

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2014

 

 

5. Spanish Affair 2 (Ocho Apellidos Catalanes)

 

The couple we met in the Spanish Affair (Rafa and Amaia) have broken up. Amaia is engaged to a Catalonian her father doesn’t like, so he enlists help from Rafa to win her back and break off the new engagement. I enjoyed this one more than the first and found it more convincing, especially the storylines between the supporting characters. If you like the Spanish Affair, definitely follow up with this one.

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2015

 

 

6. 100 Metros (100 Meters)

 

Based on a true story about a man with a young family who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Determined to resist the disease as long as he can, he commits to training for an Ironman– with the help of his father-in-law, who has troubles of his own. I sobbed by the end; keep tissues nearby for this heart-wrenching and inspiring story.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish |  2016

 

 

 

7. La reina de España (The Queen of Spain) 

 

It’s 1956, and an American film company is making a movie about Isabel and Ferdinand, at the request of Franco– and Macarena Granada, now a big name in Hollywood, returns to her native Spain after 20 years to star in it. I found it slow and forced overall, but there’s a deep undercurrent of complicated Spanish history and a cast of actors that many viewers will enjoy nonetheless. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio  |  2016

 

 

8. A Cambio de Nada (Nothing in Return)

 

A coming-of-age story about a troubled teenager figuring out life and getting into trouble with his best friend. Poignant at times, tough at others, A Cambio de Nada explores adolescence in the context of trouble at school, trouble at home, and finding friendship.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015

 

 

9. Ahora o Nunca (It’s Now or Never)

 

A couple who got together in a fairytale high school romance is getting married. The week of the wedding turns nightmare as everything goes wrong, quirky friends and family in tow. 

Info: Comedy |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2015

 

 

10. Nuestros Amantes (Our Lovers)

 

Different from the usual rom-com storyline, this romantic “dramady” follows a couple who meet in a coffeeshop and decide to maintain an out-the-box-friendship: no exchange of personal information, and no romance. Things go beautifully until their personal lives intersect with fantasy, and they must confront reality.

Info:  Romance, Comedy  |  Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles  |  2016

 

 

11. 7 Años (7 Years)

 

Four friends are in business together, and have committed tax fraud. If one of them volunteers to go to jail for seven years, the company came remain intact and the other friends can walk free. The question is which one? They hire a consultant to help decide who it should be. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2016

 

 

12. Palmeras en la Nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)

 

A Spanish woman travels to Africa in hoping to unearth old family secrets, after finding a letter her dying father left behind. The story moves between her search and forbidden love in the time of colonialism. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2015

 

 

 

 

What other Netflix Spain movies do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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How to Change Netflix Language Settings in 3 Easy Steps

How to Change Netflix Language Settings in 3 Easy Steps

Inside: How to change Netflix language (audio and subtitles). 

 

As Spanglish newlyweds, my husband and I loved to watch movies together. My Spangish was pretty good; he’d just moved to the U.S. and was learning English. Lucky for us– we had Netflix and lots of options. We often watch Spanish shows with Spanish subtitles (that accent from Spain is hard for me); he learned a ton of English (and American culture) by watching The Office. When kids came along, I found all movies and cartoons with Spanish audio for them. 

Netflix’s foreign language content keeps growing, which is good news for those of us who like learning other languages and cultures. But if you’re not sure how to adjust all the settings, here’s your quick tutorial. 

 

1. How to Change Setting Within a Movie or Show

 

Once you have a show or movie you want to watch, it’s easy to see what audio or subtitles are available. Just click on the desired language for each and push play. (If you want to get fancy, or speak a language that isn’t widely spoken, you can try the Super Netflix Chrome extension.)

 

 

 

2. How to Search by Original Language

 

If you search for the language directly (Spanish), you’ll get results for anything related to Spain or Spanish. If you want to see only movies or shows created originally in a specific language, search “_____ language,” as in “Spanish language.” 

 

 

3. How to Search by Audio/Subtitles

 

To refine the results, search with more direct phrases: “audio in Spanish” or “subtitles in Spanish.” Keep in mind, of course, that this doesn’t mean the original language will be Spanish. It will search for movies with audio or subtitles that are available in Spanish.

It bothers me to listen to audio that’s been altered, so I prefer to use the original audio and switch the subtitles to English or Spanish. But to each his or her own!

 

 

 

Here’s a quick video if you’re still unsure of how to change Netflix language settings across different different devices:

 

 

If you’re looking for Spanish-language content, see my page on Spanish movies and shows. I’ve got something for everyone!

 

 

How to Change Netflix Language Settings

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Peru Books for Kids: A Collection of Favorite Titles

Peru Books for Kids: A Collection of Favorite Titles

Inside: Peru books for kids: a collection of favorite titles. 

 

Peru is a magical place: full of history and culture and that stretches across the centuries. Here I’ve collected our favorite titles for introducing the country to children.

Right now, most books are very sierra-heavy: focused on the Andes and traditional culture. We live in the jungle, and there aren’t many books about the jungle, the coast, or more modern-day life. If you know of more to add, please let me know!

(For more book lists and suggestions, be sure to see my Spanish children’s books page.)

 

Peru Books for Kids

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

 

Fictional Peru Books 

 

Maria Had a Little Llama 

An adorable bilingual re-telling of Mary Had a Little Lamb, set in the Peruvian Andes– with a few extra details. 
(PreK- 3rd grade)

 

Up and Down the Andes

Meet children who are traveling to the Inti Raymi festival (festival of the Sun God or the Incan New Year) in Cusco, through lyrical rhymes. This is a beautiful, folk-art introduction to the country and customs of Peru, with the Andes as the backdrop.
(Grades K-3)

 


The Llama’s Secret – A Peruvian Legend 

Available in Spanish and English, this folktale re-tells the story of the Great Flood. In this Andean version, a llama saves the people and animals by warning them to gather on a mountain. I love that authentic culture and words in Quechua are incorporate in this rich tale.
(Grades 2-4)

 


En Alas del Condor (Puertas al Sol)

Alma Flor Ada is one of my favorite authors, and this book is an overview of the native people of Latin America. Although it’s not only focused on Peru, the condor is the national Peruvian bird and a significant cultural reference. 

 

Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains

A Cuy (guinea pig) must outwit a hungry Fox in this light-hearted story set in the Andes. Beautiful wood-block illustrations and Quechua phrases add to the authenticity of the story.
(Grades K-3)

 


The Littlest Llama

Another llama tale, this is a sweet story about a young llama looking for friends who will play with him. Along the way, we meet typical Andean animals and beautiful scenes of Peru.
(PreK – 2nd grade)

 


Molly and the Magic Suitcase: Molly Goes to Peru

Part of a global “Molly goes to…” series, here we get an introduction to Peru through the eyes of two children, Molly and Michael. They visit Machu Picchu and other famous sites, and learn about traditional dances, clothing, and food.

 


Patterns in Peru: An Adventure in Patterning

Weaving together Peruvian culture and history, Patterns in Peru two children solve a mystery and learn about patterns along the way. 

 


Kusikiy a Child from Taquile, Peru

Written in the tradition of magical realism, Kusikiy tells the story of a Peruvian boy who travels to the Guardian Spirit of the Mountain to find the lost stars of the sky.
(K-4th grade)

 


The Adventures of Paloma in Peru

Learn about travel through Peru and caring for the environment with The Adventures of Paloma in Peru. (Each purchase in the U.S. buys a backpack for a child in Peru!)

Peru Books for Older Readers

 


Secret of the Andes

A Newberry Award winner, the main character here is an Incan boy in charge of caring for the llamas in the Sacred Valley. Mythology and indigenous traditions are woven throughout the story, as he learns the secrets of his ancestors.
(Grades 3-7)

 

Los Baker van a Peru

An adventure story set in Peru, this one is written in Spanish specifically for novice Spanish learners. 
(Middle – High School)

Non-Fiction Peru Books

 


Conoce Peru / Spotlight on Peru

Available in Spanish or English, this is the perfect introduction to Peru for kids, with an overview of its history, customs, geography, food, animals, and more. 
(Grades 2-3)

 

De la A a la Z Peru

A rhyming introduction to facts about Peru, letter by letter (M is for Machu Picchu!). Written in Spanish.
(Grades 1-3) 

 

If You Were Me and Lived in…Peru

An introduction to Peruvian culture and history for kids.
(PreK – 3rd)

 


Enrique’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Peruvian City

A realistic look into the everyday life of a boy who lives in Ayacucho. Kids will be fascinated by the photos that show day-to-day customs and routines, at home, school, and around town in Peru. 
(Grades 1-4)

 

 
Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon

An inspiring true story about a 10-year-old girl who lives on the Amazon river in Peru and rescues baby monkeys. Real-life photos give a fascinating look into nature and life in the jungle.
(Grades 2-4)

 


The Rainforest Grew All Around

Though not about Peru specifically, most of the books about Peru center on the Andes mountains and culture. Don’t forget that a huge portion of Peru is part of the Amazon rainforest! The Rainforest Grew All Around is a delightful introduction to the Amazon and its animal and plant inhabitants. Beautiful!
(Grades K-3)

Books about the Incas

 


The Everyday Life of the Ancient Incas

This gorgeous book (features over “500 color paintings, drawings, and photographs) is a wonderful introduction to Inca life on the everyday level.
(Grade 5 and up- I think) 

 

Lost City: The Discovery of Machu Picchu

A wonderful book that tells the story of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations and storytelling.
(Grades 2-7)

 


The Inca Empire (True Books: Ancient Civilizations)

A basic introduction to the Inca Empire, with photos.
(Grades 2-4)

 


Ancient Inca Daily Life

Another look into daily life among the Incas, for slightly younger readers.
(Grades 3-8)

 


The Ancient Inca 

An in-depth look at the history of the Ancient Inca civilization. Packed with information, art, graphs, and photos.
(Grades 5-9)

 


Machu Picchu: The story of the amazing Inkas and their city in the clouds

A high-quality introduction to the Incas, both in text and illustrations. Be aware that some graphic scenes are included (human sacrifices). (Grades 5-8)

 


Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folk Tales and Stories of Inca Life

Discover folk tales from the Andes, in this lovely collection. Rich paintings and stories uncover the deep culture and traditions of the Andean natives. 

 

Do you have favorites Peru books for kids that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

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Peru Books for Kids

 

 

Teaching Immigration in Spanish Class: Resources & Ideas

Teaching Immigration in Spanish Class: Resources & Ideas

Inside: Ideas & resources for teaching immigration in Spanish class.

 

I think this is one of the most packed posts I’ve written. And I keep adding to it! There are ton of resources on immigration, and here I’ve tried to collect the best of the best.

The entire history of immigration is so multifaceted it’s hard to know what to cover in Spanish class. One of the big dangers is presenting any part of immigration as one-dimensional. If you present lopsided materials, your students might walk away thinking:

  • Latin America is: poverty, violence, and corruption.  
  • All Latin Americans want to move to the U.S.
  • All/most immigrants are undocumented. 

A lot of materials out there focus on the hardships people face before choosing to emigrate, and rightfully so. It’s important that our students grasp the dire situations many people find themselves in. But people are not one-dimensional.

So, I try to focus on dignity. 

Not reducing people to rich or poor, “legal” or “illegal”, but focusing on humanity: telling stories and listening to stories. 

We will probably misstep here and there, but it’s such an important conversation. I feel like if my students at least leave my classes having empathized with a character in a book, song, or movie, they will engage in future discussions differently. And if we read multiple perspectives and study current facts, they can think beyond their personal experiences and preconceived notions. 

I can’t tell you how to create a perfectly balanced unit that does everything, but hopefully the resources here give you a head start. 

Immigration in Spanish Class: Resources

Getting Started

 

  • There are a TON of resources out there on immigration. Take some time to explore and find a balance of resources that will resonate with your students: reading, listening, discussion. I have tried to gather just my favorites here. 

 

  • Use this list for coming up with essential questions. Some examples (quoted from the site):

What does it mean to be invisible? (context: minorities)
How do individuals reconcile competing belief systems within a given society (e.g., moral beliefs conflicting with legal codes)?
What is oppression and what are the root causes?
What turning points determine our individual pathways to adulthood?

 

  • Choose several authentic songs as you work through the unit. (I have a few included in this post, or see my entire list of immigration songs in Spanish.) Discuss the lyrics, and use the videos that tell stories as MovieTalks or stories. Below you’ll find several free resources for this. 

 

  • Select a novel to study together, or gather short texts to read. In this post, I suggest some novels and will link to a bunch of news articles and infographs. 

 

  • Use one or two full-length videos. You might want to start and end with movies: one, to give context and help students imagine details, and one to close out everything you’ve studied. Below you can find my suggestions. 

 

  • Consider anchoring your unit as hearing varied perspectives and “voices” of immigration. Each time you read a story, watch a video, etc., add a small reflection or paragraph about that person or group’s experience. This is what I did in my immigration songs pack

 

  • Invite heritage speakers from within the school to share with your class about their family.

 

  • Do an immigration simulation. Señor Noble has resources for a game to help students understand the emigration process. 

 

Novels

 

El escape cubano

I love Mira Canion’s writing. This novel tells about a family’s escape from Cuba during the Castro-era, from a first-person perspective. Comprehensible even to novices, this is a perfect choice for a Spanish 1 class. 

Esperanza

A couple in Guatemala has to escape to the U.S. and cross the border, seeking political asylum for their family. Although written for novice learners, the themes are deep and can be better explored by students in Spanish 2 or 3.

One caution: don’t take too long actually reading the book. There’s a lot of crying, waiting, bad news, etc. Keep it moving, act it out, and intersperse with lighter activities (songs or cultural stuff about the beauty of Guatemala). 

 

Cajas de Carton: Relatos de la Vida Peregrina de un Nino Campesino 

An authentic Spanish title, Cajas de cartón would be a good fit for Intermediate-Mid and up. It follows a Mexican migrant family in California through short stories, one per chapter.

Esperanza Rising 

For more advanced students, Esperanza Renace is an authentic read about a Mexican girl who comes from a life of wealth in the 1920’s, only to have her life turned upside down by tragedy. She escapes with her mother to California.

#authres

Infographs are an accessible authentic resource, even for novices. Here are some examples you could use in class.

Credit: Telesur

Credit: Mujer Migrante

 

 

Credit: Azteca Noticias

 

https://www.pinterest.com/eealvarado/immigration-la-inmigraci%C3%B3n/ https://www.pinterest.com/eealvarado/esperanza/

Songs on Immigration

 

There are so many good songs I had to make a whole separate post: 15 Powerful Songs about Immigration in Spanish. Here are just my top four picks that offer a variety of stories, and resources to go with them:

Un Besito Más

 

Two undocumented parents try to make a life in the U.S., but end up being separated from their daughter. Really beautiful, but definitely sad. 

 

Click on the image to see the story slides I made for novice-high students and up.

 

Kara Jacobs and Adrianne Dowd also created resources that are meant to introduce an immigration unit with Un Besito Más. You can click through their presentation and ask questions about the screenshots, and use their follow-up activities. I stumbled across this after I made mine, but hopefully having a plethora of resources will make your life easier!

Ave Que Emigra

 

I love including this one from Gaby Moreno (or Fronteras), because it deals with a different experience: someone who was able to come legally, to pursue a dream, but still deals with homesickness. The theme is central to any discussion of immigration: sacrifices made in the pursuit of dreams, and home vs. new identities. The language is poetic and better for intermediate-low and up, but the video would make for great discussion and narration for all levels. 

 

ICE El Hielo

 

The video shows vignettes of people living in the U.S.: two undocumented workers, an ICE official, and family members. A tough watch, but perfect for storytelling. The lyrics tell a different story than the video, and with a little help are very comprehensible. 

 

You can use my slides with text to introduce the video (told for novices):

 

Kara Jacobs also has a immigration songs pack that weaves the characters in the story and video together, plus some excellent follow-up activities. I love the idea of telling the story before watching the song. 

Dos Patrias

 

Although Dos Patrias isn’t necessarily my favorite, I think it’s important to give a well-rounded look at things. There are so many powerful songs about the undocumented experience, but we don’t want to paint all stories with the same brush. Here we have a family who came with documents, and the father becomes a citizen. The song describes his struggle between identities, and the difference between his experience and that of his children. 

Readings on Immigration

 

Below you can find links to articles and text that are immigration-related.

Learner Texts

 

  • Newsela has an entire text set on Immigration in the U.S., which you can select in Spanish and then adjust the level of difficulty. You have to create a free account to join, but there is a LOT of comprehensible material here. 

 

 

  • Foto Historias feature true stories told by immigrants, and easily searchable by theme. Though they’re not created for learners, the language is easier and easily adapted as an embedding reading. 

 

Authentic Texts

 

  • Enrique’s Journey is a six-part bilingual series by the Los Angeles Times on a boy’s journey from Honduras to the U.S. 

 

 

 

Films on immigration

 

Again, so many to choose from. Here are my top picks, and of course be sure to preview.

Movies

 

Which Way Home (1h 30min)

This documentary follows the lives of several children as they make the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border. This is a very powerful movie that conveys a difficult reality, and will need to be previewed for sure. (Free lesson plans available here.)

Themes: Immigration, poverty, Central America and Mexico.

Bajo la misma luna (PG-13, 1h 46min)

A young boy and his mother are separated when she leaves him behind in Mexico to go work in the U.S. He leaves his family and tries to cross the border to find her. This is one of my favorites– difficult themes, but beautifully done and very touching. This would work as well for most 8th graders. 

Themes: Immigration, family, heartwarming/wrenching.

Living on One Dollar (56min)

Four friends leave the U.S. and plan to live on $1 per day in Guatemala. Although this film can reinforce the common storyline of interpreting poverty and Latin America only through the eyes of foreigners, it can be a powerful way for students to see outside their everyday lives. (Currently on Netflix.)

Themes: Central America, travel, social justice, poverty.

Entre nos (NR, 1h 20min)

A Colombian mother travels New York with her two children, only to be abandoned by her husband once there. She must improvise and find a way to survive on her own, by collecting cans in the city trash.

Themes: Colombia, immigration, family, inspirational. 

La ciudad (NR, 1h 28min)

Four touching stories about living in New York in the Latin American community, and how immigrants make their way there.

Themes: Immigration, employment, social justice. 

Videos

 

 

 

Immigrant Archive Project:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration in Spanish Class

 

 

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Immigration in Spanish Class

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