El Rincón Cultural

Posted by Alvaro

Since we started Bablingua, we have made an effort to try to include people and information from the different Spanish speaking countries. We talked, for example, about Peruvian food in “Mi mejor propina” and we looked at our own city, Madrid, from the point of view of a Mexican visitor in “Madrid con prisa”. We’d like to keep growing in this direction, including people from the 21 Spanish speaking countries, and to achieve this goal, we’ve applied to our website an idea from the exchange program that took us to the US: the creation of a Cultural Corner.

The objective of this new section is very simple: we’d like your students to meet at least a person from each of the countries where Spanish is an official language, to learn something about their culture and to somehow reproduce, in the classroom, what they’ve seen.

The advantages of the Cultural Corner are:

  • Your students will be exposed to different accents, which will improve their listening comprehension and their awareness of the cultural diversity within the Hispanic world.
  • They’ll learn directly from a person from the target culture, so stereotypes and common mistakes will be avoided. For example, when we worked in our first video with Cedina, the Mexican girl who explains how to build an altar for the Day of the Dead, she corrected us because in our original script we wrote “El día de los Muertos” (following the way many textbooks call it), and she told us Mexicans don’t use the “los” article, they just call it “El día de Muertos”.
  • All the videos try to teach something that students can reproduce in the classroom. They’ll learn how to dance, cook or build an altar, and how to talk about these activities in Spanish. We hope the end of each of our videos is the active participation of your students in your class, doing what they’ve seen and using the vocabulary they’ve learnt. We keep in mind that we learn from what we do, and our Cultural Corner materials follow that principle: first, the activities will prepare your students for the video. Then, the video will show different aspects of the culture of the country the speaker is from. Finally, your students will use what they have learnt to do in class an example of what they watched in the video, using Spanish to explain it.
  • All the videos include optional subtitles in Spanish. Based on our own experience as English learners, we strongly believe that listening and reading at the same time is the best way to improve one’s pronunciation and listening comprehension.
  • The videos are about 10 minutes long, so they can be watched several times, and they can be easily integrated within a lesson. For example, if you’re doing cultural projects in your classes, you could finish them showing the videos to your students and working on the activities.
  • The videos from this section are appropriate for all levels, since we focus on the cultural aspects and we keep their grammar as simple as possible. The activities will teach the key vocabulary to your students, who should be able to get the gist of the videos thanks to the images and those key words. The subtitles are also especially helpful for beginner levels.

We look forward to comments about this section, including ideas from other teachers about cultural aspects we could cover about each country. Just leave us a message below!

We’ll try to complete this projects as soon as we can, the countries available now are:

  • México: “De Ciudad de México a Madrid” covers the Day of the Dead, your students will learn how to build their own altars and how to explain them in Spanish.
  • Our “De Caracas a Barcelona” contains the most important information about Venezuela, and it’ll help your students to produce their own “telenovelas”.
  • In “Carnaval, Carnaval” we talk about many countries, but we focus on Ecuador and Spain. Your students will learn how carnival is celebrated in the Hispanic world, basic vocabulary to talk about this festivity and the difference between the verbs “conocer” and “saber”.
  • Rumbo a Machu Picchu” is a wonderful trip from Lima to Machu Picchu, stopping at some of the most wonderful Peruvian towns, such as Cusco or Pisac. Your students will learn a lot about Peru as well as the most important things a tourist needs when traveling to a Spanish speaking country: how to book a hotel room, ask about schedules and prices and get information at the visitor center.
  • An interview with a girl from Montevideo gives us the basic information a student should know about Uruguay and its traditional music: “El candombe uruguayo”. Following the model of this video and the activities that accompany it, your students will be able to present other cultural issues with a question-answer structure.
  • In “Aprende tango” we visit a dancing class with Mar, a young girl from Argentina, to learn the basic steps of one of the most famous dances in the world.

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marnix1204 said on Thu, February 17, 2011

Its a brilliant idea to enhance the cultural awareness of the students in preserving their custom and cultures.

reinadeoz said on Fri, September 06, 2013

This could be very interesting for me. I hope to can have more participation in my native language, spanish.

Thank u!

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