Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K–12

A Library of Classroom Practices

Spanish: Routes to Culture
Connect to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • How can students be challenged to move beyond identifying cultural products and practices toward understanding perspectives?
  • What activities have helped your students expand and elaborate their communications?
  • Mr. Muirhead worked closely with a music teacher to build the big boxes. How have you collaborated with teachers of other subjects to enrich student experiences?
  • What opportunities are there for your students to use the target language outside the classroom and learn about cultures in the nearby community? For travel/study abroad?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

Russian Cities, Russian Stories (Russian) illustrates students interpreting texts (teacher-written to simulate authentic stories) and then writing their own versions, and Happy New Year! (Japanese) shows students working with cultural products and practices and moving toward understanding perspectives.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • Infuse language-building activities with relevant aspects of the target culture. When language study is grounded in a cultural context, it becomes more meaningful to students and they are better able to internalize it. Mr. Muirhead's students first learned about the African presence in Latin America by reading stories about the fictional character Onama. They used both the historical and cultural elements of the stories to guide their own writing, which focused on the linguistic concepts of past time and third-person perspective.
  • Look for opportunities to let students experience a slice of the target culture in their region of the United States. Heritage communities have their own characteristics and activities to explore. If there isn't a heritage community in your area, there may be food festivals, traveling exhibits, musical groups, or other events that you can visit with your students. Mr. Muirhead was fortunate to have a Latino community nearby, and planned several activities for the student excursion. By going into the community, students engaged with the products (foods, musical instruments, signs) and practices (salsa dancing) of this culture and experienced their importance to the neighborhood residents. Although Mr. Muirhead had to prepare extensively for this field trip, the feedback from both students and parents confirmed the value of the experience. (In addition to local trips, Mr. Muirhead has traveled outside of the United States with his students, to Cuba. During this trip, students completed self-designed projects that required contact with local people and used local resources. For example, one student group interviewed people for their study of the role of women in Cuba.)

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