Coming back to school after the winter break can be rough. Create a lesson or two around New Year’s traditions, and you can kick off the new semester with fun activities centered on Latino culture.
As explored in my New Year’s in Spanish post, there are a ton of good-luck rituals in the Hispanic world. From wearing the right underwear to stuffing down 12 grapes a midnight, there’s a little bit of everything! And there’s plenty of interesting traditions to capture your students’ attention.
Or consider a real-world task like making resolutions and/or wishes. There are plenty of #authres to make these sorts of activities even more meaningful.
Below, I’ve gathered all kinds of resources, so there should be something for everyone. Enjoy!
Spanish New Year’s Activities
Make New Year’s resolutions! Perhaps begin with a funny story about someone who has high hopes for the new year and sets intense goals, and then what actually happens Jan 1. OR go the inspirational route about someone who truly does turn over a new leaf (the Grinch, maybe). Then at the end of the story, students come up with their own resolutions.
Prepare a list of famous characters/people/celebrities. Then, write up one or more resolutions for each person. Show the list of people to the class, and read the resolutions out loud, while the students try to guess whose it is.
Make 12 wishes for the New Year, and write each one in a grape. (Following the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, and making a wish for each one eaten.) This is an output-heavy activity, so it might be best to brainstorm and give options for the students to choose from, or use for a more advanced class and then discuss.
For younger students, prepare “grapes” with a wish for the New Year written down. After talking about each wish, have the students pick just one wish for the next year. Then vote for favorites and do a graph to see what the most popular wish is!
Research superstitions to bring good luck on New Year’s, and compare them between countries/cultures.
Have students choose one word for the New Year, as explained here.
Inside: My top recommendations for Spanish shows on Netflix.
I speak Spanish all day with my kids and as a teacher, but I need good input too! And lucky for me, there are more and more great shows to watch. Here are a bunch of suggestions (most of which I’ve personally watched).
As a semi-introvert, my ideal evening just might be curled at home with a good show. Not surprisingly, a good series is one of my favorite ways to learn more Spanish.
Below, I’ve included a brief commentary where I could, However, if you’re wondering about ratings, please be sure to click on the title and get a better idea of the content. Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update!
This is a GREAT show. The drama of the main two character wasn’t actually my favorite: what makes the show are the endearing supporting characters. I love the aesthetics, clever dialogue, and lively personalities throughout. Set in Spain.
Often compared to Downton Abbey, El tiempo entre costuras is a mini-series based off a novel. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it follows a seamstress unlucky-in-love, who gets caught up between spies in Franco’s Spain. It has gorgeous scenery and costuming. This is one of my very favorites, and I’ve used it in class along with a study of the Spanish Civil War. Set in Spain and Morocco.
This was one of those shows I initially wrote off, then totally got into. The first episode is fairly explicit but gets a tamer as the series goes on. It’s quite the study in family disfunction, and turned out to be more complex, funny, and memorable than I expected. Both my husband and I have enjoyed it (I watched El tiempo entre costuras alone, haha). Set in Mexico.
Here’s your really well-done telenovela that even my action-loving husband couldn’t stop watching. Full of intrigue and mystery, it’s got plenty of the novela qualities– but with a solid story and characters to back it up. Like Velvet, the supporting characters are the best part of the story. (If you’re not finding it on Netflix, search Grande Hotel.) Set in Spain.
This was a hard show to watch, but one we both really liked. It’s an extensive series based on the life and rise of Pablo Escobar to power. A lot of the events shown were new to me, and filled in some gaps in the complicated relationship between the Colombian public and Escobar (even though it’s not a historical documentary). It was interesting to watch together, as my husband remembers much of the story from his childhood the nearby Peruvian jungle. Set in Colombia.
I just started this one and it looks really good. Difficult themes– life during the conflict between the FARC and the national military, re-integration after life as a guerilla, child soldiers– but still good. It manages to deal with those heavy themes while maintaining hope and everyday moments. Unlike many of the other series in this list, it gives a in-depth look into everyday life for working-class families in Latin America. Set in Colombia.
Starring the iconic Kate del Castillo as the first lady of Mexico, Ingobernable begins as her world is turned upside down and she finds herself running for her life. Accused of assassinating her husband, she must find her way outside her life of wealth and power, to prove her innocence. Set in Mexico.
From the creators of Gran Hotel and Velvet, this show is packed with favorite actors from both shows, as well as El barco and El internado. It follows 4 women who work for a cable company in the 20’s.I was a bit put off by the jarring modern music combined with a really gorgeous set, but enough of my friends like it that I think I’ll give it another chance. Set in Spain.
Confession: I haven’t watched this one! That’s pretty much Spanish-teacher sacrilege, I know. However– I have a lot of friends who LOVE it and swear by it. Set in a boarding school, it’s a mystery series. Set in Spain.
This one is set to come to Netflix on January 28, 2018. It’s a Dr. Who-type show and supposed to be really good! It’s a time-travel theme about two students who join forces under the direction of the Time Ministry of Spain, to go back in time and correct mistakes. This should be great to show in class– lots of history and art, set in Spain.
It’s a reasonable criticism that too many shows/movies paint Latin America as full of drugs, violence, etc. And this show was hard to watch for the violence, same as Pablo Escobar. I did think it was well-done though, and we both got into it (it was a really interesting background to Kate del Castillo’s documentary “The Day I Met Chapo”). Set in Mexico.
15. Sobreviviendo a Escobar
Just to continue right along with narco-theme series, Sobreviviendo Pablo Escobar was a fascinating follow-up to Pablo Escobar (and Narcos). Set in Colombia.
Another Spanish mystery, El barco follows a group of young people on a boat during a global cataclysm, who believe themselves to be the only people left on earth. We got really into this one initially, though my interest waned a bit with the extreme drama every episode, hah. If you liked El internado and Gran hotel, you’ll probably like this one! Set in Spain (sort’ve… they’re in the ocean most of the time).
Inside: teach and learn Spanish with music, through 30 authentic songs full of the subjunctive, conditional, and commands.
Finally, a list of authentic Spanish songs for advanced classes! My lists for Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 are already popular, and this one should round it all out.
Using authentic songs gets significantly easier with upper grades, as you aren’t sheltering vocabulary so much. If you need some ideas on what to do, read about teaching Spanish with authentic songs here.
The songs are sorted by tense, so you can easily find input with repetitions of the structures you’re targeting. Of course, new music is always coming out and I want to make these lists as helpful as possible. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. (more…)
Inside: Spanish songs for teaching Spanish 2 classes, with an emphasis on the preterite and the imperfect.
40 Authentic Songs for Spanish I has consistently been one of my top hits. I figure it’s time for Spanish 2 to get some love! Here are 30 authentic Spanish songs with preterite and imperfect verbs throughout the lyrics.
Of course, the content of Spanish 2 varies. In my classes, I look for lots of input in the past tense as we’re looking to communicate about past events. Our music, stories, and novels are preterite and imperfect-heavy, and I use many of the songs from this list. Click here if you are wondering how to teach Spanish through authentic songs.
Let me know if I missed any of your favorites, or should be aware of lyrics or parts of videos I may have missed! Always, always, preview of course. 🙂 (more…)
While I love our stash of picture books in Spanish and English, I really like finding original Spanish titles. And authentic Spanish books for kids are not always easy to get! It’s taken some digging, but I’ve found quite a few treasures here. As a non-native Spanish speaker, I love knowing these books will expose my kids to that authentic voice and culture I can’t always provide.
Although some books listed here are bilingual, I looked for ones that were written in Spanish first, by a native author. Normally I like to include a little blurb about each title, but we’re still working our way through the list. I didn’t want to wait to share all of these with you! (more…)