My Spanish III students are in the middle of the unit that I loosely refer to as the music unit. So far we have covered La República Dominicana , Juan Luis Guerra, a bit of Haiti, Somos el Mundo and are now working with Colombia and Juanes. The unit involves a lot of work with geography, historical perspective and social commentary through song (Ojalá que llueva café, El costo de la vida, La llave de mi corazón, Bachata en Fukoaka, A Dios le pido, La camisa negra, La historia de Juan, Sueños, and Somos el mundo). I’ve done several other posts about this unit (Minas Piedras, La Historia de Juan, Ojala que Llueva Cafe). By this point in the unit, the students have been seeing, hearing and using vocabulary related to the music and themes for three weeks. It is time to pull it all together and see how much of it is “sticking” in their heads. I don’t use vocabulary lists and I don’t do vocabulary quizzes. I am a firm believer in not learning vocabulary to merely take a quiz and then forget it. I am constantly enforcing the concept that each student will be carrying his/her own unique vocabulary list with words that may differ from another student.
We’ve been working with Cognates, such as
and words that are related to others that we know
- Hambre, hambriento
and words that are completely new
- Agradecer/dar las gracias
- Arsenales (which looks like it should be a cognate, but students don’t know what an arsenal is)
- Injusto (no es justo)
- Minas terrestres (minas tierras)
- Sin techo/sin hogar
- Suerte/tener suerte
- Temer/tener miedo
To further enforce what we have been accumulating over the past three weeks, I put them in groups and give each group a topic, such as Violencia, Cosas Ilegales, Cognates, Infinitivos, Cosas Malas, Descripciones, Los Niños y los sentimientos. It is obvious that there is considerable overlap within the categories. Then, I give each group a tree outline and 2 minutes to add appropriate vocabulary to the tree. I use a tree because the next song and theme that we will be working with is Minas Piedras, and there is a very significant verse in the lyrics that will help tie all the themes together.
Los árboles están llorando
Son testigos de tantos
años de violencia
el mar esta marrón
mezcla de sangre con la tierra
After two minutes, each group passes their tree to another group, and I give that group an additional minute to add to their new category and tree. We pass again, and eventually I have them identifying the vocabulary that they see and asking each other questions about the words. The trees are then posted in the room for a visual reminder of our expanding vocabulary. Here are some examples:This visual representation of vocabulary by theme could be done with any number of themes.