A major milestone in my journey of aventuras this year was the post from Creative Language Class about teaching sports and culture through comprehensible input. I’m not sure what it was, but something clicked with that unit that sent me–and more importantly, my students, in a new direction for our Aventuras Nuevas. When the author Megan mentioned that students would already know most of the sports because they were cognates with English, I thought–she’s right! But now what do we do? And do I really want to teach the unit like I had before?
I knew about CI, and knew a lot of theory, but had previously been in a very tightly controlled curriculum where if it was day #_, then you should be teaching _. Those boundaries made it hard to implement strategies that I knew could be effective. In truth, even though I knew the “should do’s”, I had had limited practice in implementing them.
Seeing Megan’s lessons and realizing that we could embed deep culture and vocabulary while maintaining TL use at the novice level was profound. At the time, I was struggling with keeping students engaged in class for the first time in years, and finally, this was our breakthrough. Borrowing heavily from what Megan shared, I started teaching about Victor Cruz, Robinson Canó, and of course, Lionel Messi. Suddenly students who didn’t seem to care about Spanish were intrigued by salsa lessons, that Messi likes Candy Crush, and that Jay-Z was Canó’s agent, and that there actually is a Lucha Libre name generator to accompany their LL identities–and they got all of this in Spanish. I was astonished by what they picked up–and continue to be amazed by what they have retained–because of this unit. A couple of weeks ago, I was about to remind them about the word oro for “gold”, but they thought I was a little loca. After all, hadn’t we talked about Messi’s Balón de Oro and his Botas de Oro. Oh, yes. Yes, we had. 😉
So what to do next? Find a way to keep the enthusiasm alive. After all, we are on this aventura together!