Children love computers and the Internet, and as our world becomes ever more technologically advanced, it is imperative that we give them the tools to explore and learn using technology. Fortunately, technology can also be a valuable tool in our efforts to raise bilingual children. There are numerous on-line stories in Spanish, videogames and websites. The Internet also gives our children the chance to explore other countries and cultures preparing them for our ever-increasing global society.
I absolutely love teaching Spanish and am passionate about the language. Unfortunately, I am also aware that not all my students are as enamored with learning another language. With most public schools not introducing the study of World Languages until late in a students’ academic career, language classes can become just another requirement needed for graduation or college admission. I am aware that learning another language can be a difficult undertaking, so I strive to make the learning of Spanish fun by using modern music, videos and projects that engage and interest the students. I have discovered that whenever I use technology, the students get excited about learning. Technology makes Spanish fun, exciting and meaningful.
It is time to teach the past, or preterit, tense. With all of the irregular verbs and stem changes, the students can become overwhelmed. I refuse to just have the kids conjugate verbs and write essays the way that I learned Spanish. Instead, we are going to make documentaries. The students will be able to choose a historical event, person, or era from any Spanish speaking country. They will have so much to choose from examining either a brief history of a country or civilization, the life of a famous actor, artist, or politician, or really any topic related to the Spanish-speaking world.
I have always been fascinated by ancient civilizations. To provide my students with an example, I chose to make a movie on the Incas. My movie was not just made with my students in mind; rather it was a project that my three year old and I worked on together. Being a Spanish teacher has been a benefit for raising bilingual children. Ideas that I have for raising bilingual children can often be adapted for my classroom, and projects that I use in class can often be adapted for use with my own children.
This summer, my husband and I will be taking our sons to Peru for a month to expose them to a new culture and give them an immersion experience in Spanish. We have decided to stay in Cuzco, Peru, which was the capital of the Incan empire. Aside from being a beautiful town in the mountains, it is also surrounded by important Incan archeological sites. I am hoping that my sons will love exploring these ancient ruins with me.
While working on a sample documentary for my class, I was able to introduce my own sons to Peru through pictures, music and stories. I used pictures from a trip my husband and I took to Peru before our children were born. My sons and I looked at the pictures talking about some of the places we will visit this summer. I told them stories about the Incan civilization, and they had fun listening to the Andean music that I would use to make the video.
Playing with technology always engages my children. We had a great time learning about Cusco and the Incas. Creating a brief documentary about the Incas also exposed my sons to a lot of new vocabulary and topics that will help with their bilingual development. I am hoping my Spanish students are as enthusiastic as my own children were in playing with language and exploring the history and culture of the Spanish-speaking world.
I would love suggestions of topics for my own students. Do you have any recommendations for my students’ movies and documentaries? Can you recommend interesting topics or people for them to research?