Many of us Spanish teachers are educating the famous Gen Z–which comes with a variety of implications and sometimes misguided stereotypes. “They don’t want to work,” I’ve heard people say. However, my friend and author Knikki Hernandez believes that it “is really just them being underwhelmed and under-stimulated by how things are taught in classrooms—such as a packet of work or a worksheet.” That is why it is crucial that we “switch it up” in the classroom. And one way that I do that is by sharing my personal cultural experiences.
The other week, we began the food unit. The vocabulary list was pretty basic–la hamburguesa, las papas fritas, la pizza, etc. The students seemed ok, but not super pumped to be learning about food. So one day, I took a few minutes and thought about the foods that stood out to me during my trips to different Spanish-speaking countries, such as cocido madrileño (Spain), casado (Costa Rica), arroz con gandules (my own Caribbean culture), etc. I pulled powerful images off the internet and put them on slides after our warm-up. On the day of the lesson, I explained that I wanted to give the students a little bit of the authentic culinary background to places that were meaningful to me; and with passion I taught about each dish–my connection, its history, how it was prepared, etc. Sometimes I went into the linguistic history behind a word (such as tapas) or explained how for 1 Euro, you could buy a scrumptious dish in Spain (at 100 Montaditos). They were hooked! The chiquis were all excited and had many questions about my trips & food. Additionally, some wanted to use the foods in their upcoming “Restaurant Project” as authentic dishes!
So what am I saying? Not only can you find a daily way to bring authentic culture into the classroom, but you can use your personal cultural experiences to hook and inspire students–even the infamous Gen Z-ers! Authenticity is key, and what can be more authentic than you sharing a part of your life experiences.
Not sure where you start? Think about the unit that you are currently in and see how you can fit a related cultural life experience in there. For example, if you are in the Health Unit, maybe you can share about a time that you had to go to the doctor’s office in a foreign country (I know I had to in Spain when I studied abroad!). You could make a related writing prompt of how they would react if they were in the same situation! Consider taking a quick virtual trip (➡️ click here for a model that I use), filling in the information with a locale that you have previously visited. Semana Santa is around the corner, and I’ll be sharing this FREEBIE from my TpT site: Semana Santa: Free Template Presentation. Feel free to download it and customize it if you’d like, but I do recommend the first link, as it walks you through how and what to put up!
If you are looking for ways to implement culture in the classroom, download my freebie digital booklet where I talk about 13 ways that I try to incorporate authentic culture on a daily and seasonal basis. Link is HERE! I hope you enjoy it–let me know what you think! I put my heart into it ❤️
Authenticity is key, I agree! I always try to explain things around a little personal anecdote (luckily, I have plenty of them). Thank you for this inspiring post!