Challenging Spanish Education

Our incredible Spanish teachers empower students to speak, read, and write naturally and broaden their understanding of Spanish-speaking communities at home and around the world. Get a glimpse into what our second-language Spanish classes have looked like so far this year:

In 6th-grade Spanish, the first semester focused on key, foundational skills like pronunciation, question words, high-frequency words, and phrases, while incorporating Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS) into the curriculum. At the beginning of the year, students started with a list of 15 words with movements, rearranged those vocabulary words into a very basic short story, and have slowly been adding a setting, names, adjectives, and a new ending to create their own version of the story. “They created comic script illustrations, acted out skits, and practiced the story both orally and in writing,” explained Señora LaZar. Their first project in January will be to create a board game, children’s book, commercial or movie trailer based on their short stories. 

The goal of 7th-grade Spanish is to support students in an immersion environment and build their skills as language users. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish, and students use the language they know to participate in interactive exercises and develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking proficiency. “So far this year, we have learned to describe our favorite things, ourselves, our families, and our school,” explained Señora Lineback, Spanish department leader who teaches 7th-grade Spanish along with Señor Martínez de León. “During quarter two, we focused on the geography and culture of the Spanish-speaking world.” Next semester, they will study holidays, traditions, animals, and food and talk about their daily routines. The course culminates in reading a short novel completely in Spanish. Señora Lineback added, “We look forward to supporting our students' growth this year!”

The theme for 8th-grade Spanish is the Amazing Race Latinoamerica. Based on the 2013 reality television show, students watch 11 native Spanish-speaking teams from around Latin America travel around the continent discovering clues to complete tasks and compete for the final prize of $250,000. All class vocabulary and language structures are pulled from the episodes. Students watch and then respond in a variety of formats including EdPuzzle, Video Circle Cooperative Learning Tasks, Flipgrid, Kahoot!, and Quizlet. In the second semester, students will go more in-depth to study the geography, art, culture and historical sights of the countries visited in the program. They will also create challenges and obstacles for their classmates as we watch teams get eliminated and move toward the finale!

Our newest Spanish teacher, Señor Armijo, who joined Bosque School at the end of October, dove headfirst into Spanish 3. The class’s final project focused on one of New Mexico's oldest holiday traditions: Las Luminarias/Los Farolitos. As part of the project, Señor Armijo taught students how to make luminarias/farolitos, providing directions in Spanish followed by a demonstration, and ending with an outdoor, hands-on, experiential learning activity where students put their knowledge to action. The project culminated with students writing a narrative in either a paper or digital format and included specialized vocabulary, grammar, and New Mexico Spanish place names. Señor Armijo hopes to continue his tradition of teaching young people Spanish through experiential learning techniques, and he hopes to introduce students to flamenco song and dance next semester.

Spanish 4 focuses on the theme of human migration. Vocabulary organically grows in this course as students watch news clips, review articles, and read selected chapters from Latin American authors about migration. This semester, they completed the project, Simulacro sobre los migrantes, designed to develop empathy and deep understanding. Señora Rekow shared, “The project was designed to develop the students' critical thinking and communication skills, and create meaningful connections among themselves and with others.” For the first part of the project, students reviewed and deepened their knowledge and understanding of the Cuban rafters phenomenon by engaging in discussion about Cuban history in the 1990s. They analyzed the dangers of traveling in makeshift rafts by sea, following up with a hands-on activity in which students designed and built their own model rafts to test their durability and then discussed different scenarios in small groups.

The thematic units for Spanish 5 are built around film, songs, and literature—allowing students to explore culture, history, current events, and universal themes as they grow their language skills. “Although we do reinforce grammatical structures, if you visited this class it would likely remind you more of a humanities class...in Spanish,” said Señora Lineback. One recent unit focused on Chile. “We began by learning about some popular foods and chilenismos—expressions, slang, and language use specific to Chile,” she said. Students then investigated one region of Chile and gave a short presentation about this area, including climate, tourist spots, economy, and other unique information. After learning about the history of the Mapuche—or Pewenche—indigenous group, they watched the award-winning film, Machuca, which chronicles the friendship of two young boys at an integrated school in Santiago just before the military coup in 1973. They considered the historical and political backdrop of the film and analyzed the themes of family, privilege, stereotypes, and more through homework assignments, class activities, and their semester final—a student-led conversation.

In the final Spanish class at Bosque School, students in Seminario explore Latin American culture, implement community projects, and develop skills in debate, negotiation, conflict resolution, and public speaking. These skills were all practiced in a project this semester titled Charlas con el pasado, or Talks With the Past, in which students represented various historical characters from Latin America. “These characters played a pivotal role in events that changed the course of history in various ways. A lot of the characters were on opposing sides of the spectrum in terms of ideology,” said Señora Rekow. The project culminated in a simulation in which students engaged with one another in character, asking questions to those with opposing beliefs to their own, posing potential situations that would affect them as individuals, and finding ways to deal with these difficult circumstances. The simulation served as an engaging way for students to exhibit their understanding of historical Latin American characters and share what they learned in a fun fashion.

We look forward to sharing more about Spanish at Bosque School in the future—including our Heritage Spanish classes, designed for students with a Spanish-speaking background.
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