30 October 2009

You can't buy this in a textbook

There are so many reasons to dislike conventional world language curriculum; my #1 is that the books are out of date before they go to press. So your students are reading about how there hasn't been a successful coup d'etat in Latin America since the end of the Cold War, and meanwhile Micheletti and the Supreme Court rocked the Honduran world with global repercussions, and some good ole' Costa Rican, Brazilian, and U.S. intervention later, signed a historic agreement to try to resolve the crisis. Our students should know this stuff as they become world citizens but they aren't going to get it from a textbook.

As some recent examples of how this has played out in my class, let me share some ways the vast free material on the internet has impacted my students' learning and awareness.

When you're teaching past participles, you've gotta go to news articles. They're rife with "it's closed" "he was shot" "they have said" "this has happened". So my students were surfing a muy actual article about the US authorities bringing down 300 members of the powerful Mexican drug cartel knows as "La familia." The article contains at least 5 uses of haber + past participle, 9 of ser/estar + past participle, and 12 past participles used purely as an adjective. So they were going through looking for those and we discussed what the article was about.
The next day one of my students said, "We heard about this on the radio this morning and I was like, "Mom, we already talked about that yesterday in Spanish class!" So my students were all informed on this big drug bust before it even came on their radio.

A few days later, a student came in and wanted to write on the board, "Ashley is eating oatmeal." But they've never had the word for oatmeal so she asked me what it was. I told her and she put it on the board. Not 10 minutes later, a tweet came through from @jesseyjoy, one of their favorite pop artists especially lately with the release of Adios, and it came up on my screen because I always have TweetDeck opened. Joy was tweeting that she had just eaten oatmeal as a healthy breakfast but would likely have pizza soon. My student *squealed* at the coincidence of Joy using the word 'avena' right after she had used it.

A couple of days after that, I read a few tweets by @Ricky_Martin, who frequently tweets in English, then Spanish, then Portuguese. He said that rhyming dictionaries suck, in Spanish they 'no sirven para nada', and in Portuguese used a rather, um, colorful word. So I tweeted that Ricky Martin was swearing in Portuguese and I was actually sad that I understood it. Next thing I know I get a direct message from Ricky Martin laughingly apologizing and sending love and peace to me and my family! WHOA! What do you think my students thought about that?

Seriously, like someone said on Twitter this week, if you don't like change, let's see how you like irrelevance.
You just can't buy this stuff in a textbook.

27 October 2009

Cultural connections: Four songs to explore using Google Earth

I recently got permission to download Google Earth and it is addictive. For class, we've used it to look at the cropland around the towns in California where Francisco Jimenez grew up as a migrant child. We've used it to explore as much as possible the trip up the Orinoco by Alex and the crew from International Geographic. Recently it's occurred to me that it could be fun to use it as a cultural connector to explore songs as well. Here's a brief list I thought of.

1. What's the distance between Ciudad Nueva and San Pedro de Macorís? How many baseball fields can you see in a quick flyover of San Pedro? La llave de mi corazón, Juan Luis Guerra

2. Where/what size is Medellín relative to Bogotá? Lo que me gusta a mí, Juanes

3. Track the lover's search from Guaynabo to Aguadilla to El Cabo to Miami in No me hagas sufrir, Manny Manuel

4. Have a whirlwind tour of the planet tracking another lover's search in La Travesía, Juan Luis Guerra

Be careful, I promise it's addictive!

26 October 2009

David Bisbal's YouTube channel

David Bisbal is all over the music news lately for his whirlwind promotion of his new album, Sin Mirar Atrás (and it doesn't hurt that his esposa Elena is expecting a little princesita). To stay up-to-date on what he's doing these days, follow him on Twitter @davidbisbal and check out his muy chévere YouTube channel. This link goes to the video for a really beautiful song on the album, Mi Princesa. Here's the embeddable video, though it likely won't be on YouTube for long.

While you're there, take a listen to his chart-topping Esclavo de Sus Besos and the rare not-a-love-song reggaetón collaboration (in his pre-curly-hair days) with Wisin and Yandel, Torre de Babel.
And hey, if you (and/or your students) just can't get enough of David Bisbal and his postnasal interdental fricatives, he's got a blog!

25 October 2009

Correction on Pin Pon in Shrek

I blogged about the brilliant use of Pin Pon in the Shrek film (to replace the culturally irrelevant reference to the Muffin Man) here. But since then it appears that video has been removed. The clip is currently available here. (As an added correction I should mention that the tale is actually from a Chilean children's program--not Puerto Rican.) Enjoy!

23 October 2009

Four songs for contrasting que & lo que

If you're going to explain to students the difference between que and lo que and expect that to do the trick, good luck. I don't think I've ever taken the time to explain the difference in my class, but it's interesting to see how students use it just with input. For a more focused approach, to take advantage of noticing, try using these songs and just pointing out the most obvious contrasts.

For 'que,' you need input where the 'que' appears at the beginning a lot. It's easy enough to understand that 'que' joins to clauses, but what about at the beginning of an expression? For this, try the songs "Tú no eres para mí" by Fanny Lu and "Quién te dijo eso" by Luis Fonsi:

For 'lo que', you need the same thing in order to make a good contrast. For this, try the songs "Lo que me gusta a mí" by Juanes and "Esto es lo que soy" by Jesse y Joy:

I especially like these because in each pair, one is fast and one is slower, and there's one guy (well, two if you count Jesse) and one girl, so they're appealing in different ways to different audiences.

(Note: Fanny Lu's too skanky to show in my class, at least all of her videos except 1 that I've seen. The Juanes video is just the song. The Fonsi video is fine but a copyright violation in my opinion and likely won't be on Youtube for long. The Jesse y Joy is the only one that's classroom-worthy without copyright problems.)

20 October 2009

Nominados en la 10a entrega de los Latin Grammy

This has been out for a while but I thought I'd post it in one list here. It always surprises me how few of these I've ever heard of. Always makes me head to imeem or YouTube to hear some new stuff. SO glad to see Aquí Estoy Yo as one of the nominados for recording of the year.

My source for this was Univision.com's portada de los Latin Grammy & it's a work in progress.

Grabación del Año
No Hay Nadie Como Tú, Calle 13 Featuring Café Tacvba
Aquí Estoy Yo, Luis Fonsi con Aleks Syntek, Noel Schajris y David Bisbal
Arlequim Desconhecido, Ivan Lins & The Metropole Orchestra
Si No Vas A Cocinar, José Lugo Orchestra Featuring Gilberto Santa Rosa
En Cambio No, Laura Pausini

Canción del Año
Aquí Estoy Yo: Claudia Brant, Luis Fonsi & G. Reuben, songwriters (Luis Fonsi con Aleks Syntek, Noel Schajris y David Bisbal)
Día Tras Día: Yoel Henríquez & Jorge Luis Piloto, songwriters (Andrés Cepeda)
Me Fui: Bebe & Carlos Jean, songwriters (Bebe)
Verte Sonreír: Alejandro Lerner, songwriter (Alejandro Lerner)
Yo No Sé Mañana: Jorge Luis Piloto & Jorge Villamizar, songwriters (Luis Enrique)

Album del Año
Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo, Calle 13
Día Tras Día, Andrés Cepeda
Ciclos, Luis Enrique
Regência: Vince Mendoza, Ivan Lins & The Metropole Orchestra
Cantora 1, Mercedes Sosa

Mejor Nuevo Artista
Alexander Acha
Claudio Corsi
India Martinez
Luz Rios

Mejor Album Instrumental
Duets, Carlos Franzetti & Eddie Gomez
Live At Caramoor, Jovino Santos Neto & Weber Lago
Lua Cheia Mauro Senise Toca Dolores Duran E Sueli Costa, Mauro Senise
Across The Divide, Omar Sosa
Moving Forward, Bernie Williams

Mejor Album de Rock Vocal
Hellville De Luxe, Bunbury
Miedo Escénico, Beto Cuevas
Solo O En Compañía De Otros, Miguel Ríos
Teatro, Draco Rosa
Un Mañana, Spinetta

Mejor Canción Rock
El Reino Olvidado, Walter Giardino, songwriter (Rata Blanca)
Entre Tus Jardines, Saúl Hernández, songwriter (Jaguares)
Hay Muy Poca Gente, Bunbury, songwriter (Bunbury)
Qué Me Vas A Decir, Jose Luis Belmonte, Diego Frenkel & Sebastián Schachtel, songwriters (La Portuaria)
Una Hora A Tokyo, Airbag, songwriters (Airbag) Track from: Una Hora A Tokyo [Warner Music Argentina]

Mejor Album de Rock Vocal Duo o Grupo
Una Hora A Tokyo, Airbag
Alex Lora De El Three A El Tri Rolas Del Alma Mi Mente y Mi Aferración, El Tri
45, Jaguares
El Reino Olvidado, Rata Blanca
Hogar, Volovan

Mejor Album de Música Alternativa
Mucho +, Babasonicos
Barracuda, Kinky
Commercial, Los Amigos Invisibles
Coba Coba, Novalima
Reptilectric, Zoé

Mejor Canción Alternativa
Bestia, Hello Seahorse!, songwriters (Hello Seahorse!)
Mas Fuerte, Cucu Diamantes, Andres Levin, Beatriz Luengo & Yotuel Romero, songwriters
Millones, Camila Moreno, songwriter
Moving, Macaco, songwriter
Nada, Alex Pérez & Juan Son, songwriters
No Hay Nadie Como Tú, Ruben Albarran Ortega, Eduardo Cabral, Emmanuel Del Real Diaz, René Pérez, Enrique Rangel Arroyo & Jose Alfredo Rangel Arroyo, songwriters

Mejor Album Cristiano (en español)
Esperando Tu Voz, Paulina Aguirre
Alabanza Y Adoración: Del Corazón, Lucía Parker
Poquito A Poco, Promissa
Su Trayectoria, David Velásquez
Tuyo Soy, Alan Villatoro

Mejor Album Cristiano (en portugués)
Compromisso, Regis Danese
Eu Não Vou Parar, Marina De Oliveira
Eu Tenho A Promessa, Jozyanne
Depois Da Guerra, Oficina G3
Fé, André Valadão

Mejor Album de Jazz Latino
Forests, Brazilian Trio
Kenya Revisited Live!!! Bobby Sanabria conducting the Manhattan School Of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra text
Sepulveda Boulevard, Charlie Sepulveda & The Turnaround
Nouveau Latino, Nestor Torres
Juntos Para Siempre, Bebo Valdés y Chucho Valdés

Mejor Album de Música Clásica
Bach: Cello Suites, Andrés Díaz
Cavaleiro Neukomm Criador Da Música De Câmara No Brasil, Ricardo Kanji & Rosana Lanzelotte
Concierto De Aniversario, Ricardo Morales & The Pacifica Quartett
Villa-Lobos: Piano Music; Guia Pratico, Albums 10 and 11; Suite Infantil Nos. 1 and 2
Sonia Rubinsky

Mejor Obra/Composición Clásica Contemporania
Cuatro Asimetrias Para El Cuarteto De Guitarras De Asturias Entre Quatret, Orlando Jacinto Garcia
Danças Nativas, Clarice Assad, composer
Inca Dances, Gabriela Lena Frank, composer
Variations On A Souvenir, Roberto Sierra, composer
Voces Del Barrio, Alfonso Fuentes, composer

Story and songs for subjunctive: indefinite/negative antecedent

Subjunctive by reason of indefinite or negative antecedent... doesn't that sound fun? This is my story for this reason of subjunctive. We do this in the spring semester of Spanish 2.
Our principal wakes up in the morning and goes to school. He asks the woman at the front desk, "I'm looking for the student who... (fill in talents of students in your class)" Ex: "Busco al estudiante que toca la guitarra mejor que Santana." (This is diagrammed/drawn on the left of the board.)
The woman at the front desk doesn't know (name). She calls the teacher over the intercom and says, "Do you have a student who... (toque la guitarra mejor que Santana)." (This is diagrammed/drawn in the middle.)
The teacher in the classroom has no clue who (name) is. She says, "There's no student here who (toque la guitarra mejor que Santana)."
We go through the sequence for at least 3, preferably four talents. By the third, maybe by the second, students should be making the subjunctive switch for you, especially if you write the final vowels in the verbs in a different color, even though they don't know why.
At the end of the story, it turns out that the reason none of the students were at the school was that (principal) was at (rival school), and actually it was all a dream!
After the story, I draw a head with a check mark on the left, a head with a question mark in the middle, a head with an X on the right. Students fairly readily grasp, "En su mente, sí existe." "En su mente, ¿existe esa persona? No sabe." "En su mente, la persona no existe."

The two songs that go along with this are La Traviesa by Juan Luis Guerra, and Esto es lo que soy by Jesse y Joy.

Remember to ask, ask, ask. If you present them with the input the right way, they'll figure it out themselves, but you can't assume they know it until they tell you so.

Most of all, have fun and make it fun. Fun = motivating.

16 October 2009

AP sythesis essay sources: Los indocumentados y el sistema de salud

When you're testing someone to place them in a certain level at a language school, you're supposed to push them until their language breaks down, and the best way to do that is to stop asking "is your mom tall" and start asking "what do you think about interracial marriage?" The assumption is that when people express their opinions, they get emotionally involved and think less about their language, and they get into vocabulary they're not used to using. So why don't we do that with our students?

After a relatively calm first couple of units, my third unit in AP Spanish is a short one on health. I decided to move away from the "use reflexive verbs to describe how you take care of yourself" and make my students think about the issues related to undocumented workers and the U.S. healthcare system and healthcare reform.

First hurdle: my students did not know what the health department was. They thought I was talking about the health inspector.

After we got that cleared up, our "story" was about a lawyer in Lexington (KY) who last year sued the health department for treating illegal immigrants, saying that their services should be reserved for taxpayers. A judge threw the case out for the garbage it was, but it's a good point to get my students thinking--what's the difference between an illegal immigrant and a citizen? Paying taxes? Do most of the people who use the health department make enough money to pay federal income tax? Do illegal immigrants pay sales tax when they go to the store? Do they pay property tax, whether themselves or through their landlords? What type of healthcare does the health department provide? How much money does this preventative and contraceptive care save our healthcare system every year? Is there ever a reason to deny a child a vaccine that's available, ever?

Then our oral presentation and synthesis essay were drawn from these two print and audio sources I found on the internet. You can't buy this stuff in a textbook. Your textbook was out of date when it went to press.

Here are the print sources:
'Dolor de cabeza' la reforma de salud

¿Dónde quedan los inmigrantes en la discusion de la reforma de salud?

And this is a very good downloadable audio source, quite clear and muy parecido al audio in the AP exam.
Denuncias contra indocumentados
The audio is part of a longer radio program, but the relevant parts for this essay are from 11:16-12:56 and 20:02-23:22.

Remember, we're preparing them for more than the AP.

15 October 2009

Blog that does what I do, only better

I wanted to give a shout out to Zachary Jones, a blogger I found out about through Twitter, who does what I do, only better. Take a minute to visit Actualidades and it'll be worth your time.

At least I still have my stories, haha.

11 October 2009

My October playlist

These are the songs I've downloaded this month:

REIK: Llegó tu amor, Noviembre sin ti
LUIS FONSI: Llueve por adentro, Quien te dijo eso
LA QUINTA ESTACIÓN WITH MARC ANTHONY: Recuérdame (Fabulous duet but too sensual for my class)
JUANES: Lo que me gusta a mí
JESSE Y JOY: Adiós (new single! love it!)
FANNY LU: Y si te digo

I budget myself at 10 songs per month, so that means I can download one more. LOL.

We must not ignore the Paz Sin Fronteras (video)

Juanes's Paz Sin Fronteras concert was such a big deal on the world politics scene (he's more deserving of the Nobel PP than Obama, but don't get me started on that, lol) that it would be a shame for a Spanish teacher to pass up the opportunity to encourage world citizens in our classrooms. Here's a videoclip I found on YouTube that's one of the best. It's short, interesting, summative, with incredibly clear audio and IMO the woman's Spanish is uber-comprehensible through most of the video. It almost sounds like she thinks she's talking to language learners!

08 October 2009

Build your perfect tenis (en español)

Here's another website idea--use nikecorre.com's shoe-builder to build the shoe that's right for you. I mean, for your students.


Video with por, haber, past participles, commands, from Coca Cola

You just never know what you'll find surfing through corporate websites. Yes, sometimes you end up getting a cow on a motorcycle through an obstacle-ridden farm on Mundonick.com, and that's fun, but corporate websites often contain videoclips that are pure gold for Spanish teachers. They're exactly what we need--short, high-impact, high-interest, and repetitive.

Go check out this human-interest video on Coca Cola Mexico's site. It's got multiple uses of por, haber + past participles, and commands, and could be a launching pad into conditional: if you were giving advice to a newborn, what would you say? what would you tell him that you would do differently?
Another interesting topic is how Coca Cola talks about finding happiness.

I would have explored classroom 2.0 a lot sooner.