Comprehensible Culture in the WL Classroom: How do experiences shape who we are?

Tango Show at Angelitos, BA (yo fui en Abril con mi clase)

Los jóvenes de Argentina 

This post is the second in a five series lessons on Identity for my upper level Spanish class.   Click here to read about the beginning lessons, video and speaking activities that inform the tasks below.
One of my goals (among many) for this year is to incorporate “comprehensible culture” in the classroom.  Many times as language teachers we get so caught up in the language that the contextualizing culture gets left behind. I am becoming more cognizant of this as I plan. My aim is to include rich language experiences and culture. This unit on Identity does this in several ways:


A. The skinny

  • Students have an opportunity to understand how they construct identity (psychological and biological point of view) 
  • They share that construction of their identity with other students 
  • They learn about how teens in the target culture think about identity 
  • Students engage in dialogue on a series of subtopics 

Quick links: Activities referenced on this blog post can be accessed by clicking the links below. If you’d like to get ideas about how to use these activities just scroll down to the letter designated section for context.

A. Antes de colgar tu imagen en la web

Click here for the writing prompts

B. Los Jóvenes Argentinos (Audiovisual activity)

C.. Click here for Listening Activity 

D.. Reading Graphic Organizer

A. With power, comes great responsibility 

Video: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la red, piénsalo

One of my writing prompts asked students to compare their generation to their parents’ generation.

Since technology was the reigning king of that comparative discussion, I decided to include the video above and additional discussion questions to explore how technology shapes identity.  Although the video and activity were kinda sidebar, they actually highlight a key point in our upcoming text ” La vida de los adolescentes.Said text highlights how young people’s identities morph and adapt to different social media fora. Furthermore, the text suggests that having “a solid” identity is challenge for this generation. The writing prompt featured belongs to a series of 11 prompts dealing with Identity.  Click here for the free writing prompts used with this unit.

Video link: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la web

This was totally an afterthought, but this social media inventory might also be a good activity to do before the video (I am kicking myself for not thinking of this beforehand).

Discussion Questions and note about the video

One of the questions asks students to create hastag for the video. In order for this to work organically, you have to stop the video right before the end so that the video’s tagline does not appear. It was a fun activity and students were able to incorporate direct object pronouns naturally. 


B. Connecting the language with the culture 

Teve Cuidad

This next resource activity is very special to me. Last year  I had the opportunity of taking 18 students from my school to Argentina for a cultural immersion trip.  During our pre-trip seminar, we explored  some of the dialectal differences in the Spanish. For this year’s Spanish IV class, I was able to incorporate some of those lessons in front loading some of the dialectal differences in Argentine Spanish. I was surprised how this lesson facilitated their comprehension and lowered their affective filter (self-reporting post activity).

Please note that at the end of this post, there are other videos from this source (Tevé Cuidad:Vivir Juntos), should you want to explore Teen Identity in Latin America.

Viewing protocol

I distributed the document contained in the link below for the as an audiovisual exercise

Los Jóvenes Argentinos (Audiovisual activity)

We went through each statement:

  • Students gave a rough translation in Spanish
  • Then we watched the video twice (super simple)

After the video, students said that going over the statements first helped them make a connection. Although for an authentic listening activity, I would not preview the language (that is the point). However, the purpose of this activity was to train their ears to hone in on the main idea (we are still in our first month of school).

C. Listening Activity with La Identidad de los Adolescentes

I love activities that are intravenously connected. This was one of them. Originally I was going to have students read the article La vida de los Adolescentes, write annotations, and then respond to the reading comprehension questions- BORING. Then, I thought about the generally set up an IPA. Let’s me clear, this text, for me at this stage is more like my anchor text and not an IPA.  An anchor text for me is an introductory text I used to teach strategies and expectations for future assessments. This text was helped to “anchor” students in many ways: 

  • To review reading strategies
  • To write annotations (get used to my system)
  • To review what type of questions to ask (none of ” qué significa es?)
  • To have a research article to refer back to (the text discusses how adolescents

But just reading and asking questions sounded boring to me, so this is what I planned instead:

  • Record the first part of the article to create a listening activity. Click here for Listening Activity 
  • Create a true/ false section to oblige them to dig more into the text
  • Invite students to create questions for the article

For homework they had to read the article again (it takes several exposures to a word before it becomes part of the lexicon) and answer questions. More more information on this article and questions see my previous post: Taking of the mask: Deconstructing Identity 

D. Experiment on Bias: How do you choose your friends?

After viewing this video, engaging and fostering conversation about this video with this question and engagement activity  last week, we read the article ” Quién Eres Tú from the MYP Spanish Concepts book. The book is chock-full with engaging readings, essential questions for everything. Even if you are not an IB teacher your students would benefit from this book. I bought it last year and I use it to supplement my own created materials in addition to the wide range of online sources (Once I get permission to share the article I will. It is short but lends itself to good discussion).

We read read highlighted the role of “apariencias” in our social habits and friendship formation. Interesting huh? Well, some of my liberally minded students denounced the article’s claim saying young people do not choose friendships based on that. Well, drawing off the energy in the room, told them to get into groups to discuss this matter. They choose  their own groups and discussed the issue. Prior to hearing from them, I asked the to:

  • Examine your groups, are these people socially akin to you? 
  • Are you with people who look like you? 
  • Do you share the same interest? 

You could hear a pin drop in the class. They all gaped in amazement. Now we were able to get into the article.

We discussed why it was easier to choose people who are like us. Here are some of the ideas that flowed:

  • Security- we won’t be judged 
  • Familiarity- we can be ourselves 
  • Convergence- we have similar values, viewpoints and perspectives

Next week: La Identidad Flexible: Diversity and the politics of Identity:  Debate en Argentina sobre la Ley de la Identidad  

Links to videos about Identity

Vivir Juntos Argentina

La Identidad Ecuador 

Categories: Uncategorized

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