Especially for early novice learners, culture can be a tough topic to cover in depth, beyond the infamous “Five F’s“: festivals, food, flags, fashion, and famous people. Throw in the fact that interculturality standards for language classes can’t be met outside of the target language, and it gets tougher. Throw in a situation where the teacher, guide, or parent doesn’t speak Spanish proficiently (or at all) and something’s got to give.
Instead of ignoring the problem, we decided to tackle it. We came up with what we think is a startlingly effective solution, and we hope you’ll think so, too. We took several cultural elements in our Stories Online curriculum and used them to develop what we call “Culture Capsules.” They bring together the best elements of research-based lessons: engaging content, achievable goals, critical thinking in an inquiry model, and of course, a target-language communication goal at the end of each one.
In each Culture Capsule, the teacher guides learners through a discussion on the capsule’s topic, while the children note answers to questions in their own print guide. Then, the class, group, or individual learners investigate answers to often deep cultural questions. Each capsule also culminates in a communicative task that asks children to demonstrate cultural awareness in Spanish, based on the national standards set by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Here are the Capsule topics in each level of Stories Online.
Level A: I Am Special
- Are “You” My Friend?
Why do Spanish speakers change the word they use for “you”?
- Days of the Week
How do we decide what is the first day of the week?
- Flags and Their Colors
What do the colors mean in the flags of the Spanish-speaking peoples?
- Describing Myself – free download below
What do the Spanish-speaking peoples “look like”?
Level B: I Love My Family
- Special Days – free download below
How does culture affect how we celebrate birthdays and other special days?
- Two Surnames?
How do many people in the Spanish-speaking cultures structure their names, and why?
- Community Activities
How do communities in different cultures have fun together?
- A Family, A Community
How do families in different cultures show their love for each other?
Are the types of pets people like to keep different from culture to culture?
Level C: I Live Here
- Home Is Where the Heart Is – free download below
What is the same and what is different about homes in different cultures?
- Let’s Eat!
What is the same and what is different about foods in different cultures?
What games and programs do people in the Spanish-speaking cultures find entertaining?
- ¿Qué hora es?
How does culture affect how people think about and talk about time?
Ready to see these in action with your learners? The above Capsules are included as part of the Stories Online program, but we’re pleased to offer you three of these Capsules to download absolutely free. Just head over to this page and get started. And please, tell us what you think!
Let’s teach children to speak real Spanish to real people for a lifetime. Starting today. Learn more about this innovative program for any preschool, kindergarten, elementary class, or homeschool at Discover Stories.