Hispanic culture is an important part of language learning, but we often don’t spend as much time as we should teaching our students about other cultures.
Let’s be honest, most of the time, the culture that accompanies our textbooks is pretty weak, and we’re so busy creating lesson plans for the basics of language learning, that we run out of time for culture.
You know you need to add more Hispanic culture to your classes if:
A. Students can’t name 10 Spanish-speaking countries (my favorite answers are: Germany, Japan, the U.S., and Europe).
B. They are tired of learning grammar and verbs.
C. Most of your students haven’t had the opportunity to travel outside your town or state.
D. Your kids constantly say, “Why do we have to learn Spanish? I’m never going to use it.”
Let Hispanic culture inspire your students to learn more Spanish so they can:
1. Compete in a global economy
2. Be sensitive and welcoming to community members from other countries
3. Make new Hispanic friends
4. Travel to beautiful places
5. Learn a different perspective
Commit to spending 15-30 minutes every week on culture.
15 ways to incorporate Hispanic culture into your Spanish classes
1. Use free Hispanic nationality partners sheet to ensure that students work with a variety of partners throughout the year.
Grab it now in my Free Resource Library.
2. Post interesting facts and colorful photos from a different Hispanic country every few weeks.
4. Show short video clips from all the Hispanic countries to showcase culture.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Making Instruments from Recycled Garbage, 4 min. – In Spanish.
Using garbage from the slums to create beautiful music.
Biblioburro, 5 min. – In Spanish with English subtitles.
A man brings books on his burro to children in Colombian communities.
5. Have students look for evidence of Hispanic culture in their daily lives.
Give them this sheet listing the 21 Hispanic countries. Whenever they find something or someone from a Hispanic country, they color the country and write what they found.
6. Read books that reference Hispanic culture.
One of my favorites for juniors and seniors is “Cuentos con sazón”. Students can read the whole book or just a chapter or two.
It’s the story of a family reunion where all the relatives take turns describing their childhood adventures in various countries. Each chapter talks about authentic food, some sort of festival and kids who get into a little bit of trouble.
After reading the book, divide the students into groups and have them write their own chapter, including an adventure where kids get into trouble, an authentic food, and a famous celebration in another country.
7. Discuss interesting traditions from other countries.
Do your students know about La Tomatina, the tomato throwing festival in Spain?
Are they aware of the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight and wearing a new pair of yellow underwear for New Years’ Eve?
Kids are fascinated by this type of stuff!
Assign a country to each student and have them research and share an interesting tradition with the class.
8. On Mondays, students share an article about a Spanish-speaking country.
Lower-level students can bring in articles in English and upper-level students can bring in articles in Spanish. They should be prepared to give a quick summary in Spanish of their articles. Here are some great sites to find free articles.
2. El Mundo
3. El País
9. Post realia in your classroom.
Check out my Spanish Realia Pinterest board to get you started. Add different realia every few weeks to keep things fresh.
10. Host guest speakers from other countries.
Track down people from Hispanic countries in your community and invite them to class to share their culture. Encourage them to bring photos, food, and other props. The speakers may only be able to present to 1-2 classes, so you may wish to invite multiple speakers to cover all your classes.
11. Read children’s biographies about famous Hispanics or read about famous people online.
Read more about how to set up your own Reading Library on the cheap.
12. Share songs that showcase Hispanic culture.
El desaparecido by Manu Chao is one of my favorites that is perfect for units on immigration:
13. Show ads or YouTube clips from Hispanic countries.
It’s really interesting to watch ads from other countries – great for comparing and contrasting culture.
And there are some awesome YouTube channels for culture.
Just discovered this one, Benshorts Viajes, and found the perfect video for all your high school boys.
In this video, he mixes 50 of the hottest salsas he can find to create a “Monster Salsa”. Great for a food unit and for learning the word, picante. I love the faces that he makes when he eats it. Ha, ha!
Remember that you can click on the settings wheel (looks like a gear) on the bottom right of the video to change the speed of the dialogue. If you put him on .75 speed, he actually talks at a normal speed instead of super-fast. 🙂
I also love Ruben y el mundo, Canal 2. He travels to different countries each week, speaks in slow, clear Spanish, and shares interesting tidbits of information.
14. Share idioms, funny memes, and jokes weekly with your students.
15. Have your students research and do presentations on their own hobbies in other countries.
For students who love art, have them do a presentation about a famous museum or Hispanic artist.
If you have a student who likes dance, have her demonstrate salsa, meringue, or flamenco.
Your soccer fanatic can talk about a Hispanic soccer team or player.
I hope that you learned a few new ways to incorporate Hispanic culture in your Spanish classes. I’d love to hear how you teach culture in your class. Please share your ideas in the comments section.
Get more quality free resources for your Spanish classroom in my Free Resource Library – lots of goodies just waiting for you.
These are all wonderful ideas!!! Thank you so much! The videos are a big hit with my students!
Great ideas! It's so nice to be able to seamlessly incorporate culture into our lessons. I especially like, "La búsqueda".
Cinco de Mayo no es un día muy significativo tanto en historia como en cultura que represente a México, más bien es vergonzoso y faltó de conocimiento. 20 de Noviembre, 16 de Septiembre, 5 o 24 de Febrero serían más representativas en cuestión de identidad de una cultura. Saludos.