Luis Fonsi! No me doy por vencido AND Corazón en la maleta

My Spanish IV students are almost done with our Metas y Sueños unit, and this week we were really focusing on the Luis Fonsi song: No me doy por vencido.  It was the perfect song to continue our work with goals, challenges, obstacles, and not giving up! Additionally, since reflexive verbs are part of the curriculum at this point in time, it also neatly helped in that regard, too! Initially, most of them didn’t think that they liked it very much, but after several days working with it, they had changed their minds and were singing enthusiastically:  Yo, yo no me doy por vencido….. yo quiero un mundo contigo…..”

I did not use the video with them until the third day.  We listened to it, did a cloze activity, practiced reading it, did some whole sentence direct translation to assist with the next step: partner work to determine meaning, identified reflexives, etc. Metas no me doy por vencido   On the third day, when the lyrics were very familiar for them, and immediate comprehension was possible, I allowed them to watch the video.  After watching, in small groups they discussed what they thought the video meant, what the three “stories” were in the video, etc.  We continued using it all week (playing as they were working on other things, singing it when entering class, etc.). This song is also one of their five choices for their performance based task to create a visual representation of how the lyrics fit into the Metas y Sueños unit.

No me doy por vencido was such a success that I was thrilled to see (via Twitter @luisfonsi) that Luis Fonsi was releasing a new song.

My Spanish III classes have been in a travel unit.  The new song that Luis Fonsi released is called Corazón en la maleta and has many of the vocabulary words/phrases that we have been targeting, such as:

  • quedarse
  • en avión
  • por tren
  • por mar
  • maleta
  • firmar
  • sube/baja
  • recordar
  • cambiar

And, it has lots of present indicative and preterite verbs!  Perfect for my Spanish III classes.  (Additionally, it has lots of reflexives, and I’m going to use it with the Spanish IV classes this coming week!  I’ve already been playing it in class, so they will recognize it.)

I had played the video for two days as students were entering the classroom, therefore, when I began to seriously work with it, the music was familiar for them.  I used this worksheet for two days with them: Corazon en la maleta Luis Fonsi

The first activity was for them to read the boxes in the first half of the paper and to then identify as many of them as possible, with a partner.  I told them that some of the words were in the song that we were going to listen to, and I asked them to check the ones that they heard or that they saw in the video.  I did not tell them that EVERY box was in the video, but every box is.  After a first listen, I asked them to share a few that they heard.  We then listened again, and shared some more.  Based on what they had checked on their papers, what they heard and what they saw, I asked them to make some guesses about what the song was about.  The next day, I had them review the boxes with a partner, and then they worked through the 8 true/false statements for meaning only.  We watched the video again, and they marked the true/false and tried to come up with the transportation words.  There are only three in the song, but I included lo que sea because it is a phrase I want them to begin understanding/using, and it was used in context with “whatever transportation means necessary”.  Individually, they completed the verb section of the paper.  We did not have time to finish the synonym/ antonym section, but I will pick it back up briefly on Monday.

Premio Lo Nuestro aired on Thursday night, so I shared the live performance/premiere of Corazón en la maleta. It also served as a beginning discussion about that awards show, and the situation in Venezuela that many of the artists referred to.

I hope this gives you some new ideas for ways to incorporate music into your lessons.  As always, I would really be interested in activities that you may be using with music.


Educreations, a great program for iPads and world languages!

Given the opportunity to “borrow” 12 iPads this past week, I experimented with a program called Educreations.  The results were pretty fantastic, and I can’t wait until I am able to have the iPads again!

My Spanish III students are approaching the end of a clothing unit, a pretty standard unit.  In my district, students study the basic vocabulary in Spanish II, and then get a reinforcing unit in Spanish III.  We add words such as tight, loose, striped, plaid, polka dot, vest, slippers, cleats, bows, belt, scarves, etc.or vocabulary that is beyond the basic pants, shirt, shoes.  At the same time, I’m attempting to “sneak in” some imperfect tense verbs for the first time without making a big deal out of it. Traditionally, the performance based assessment for this unit has been an impromptu conversation with partners based on a shopping expedition.  Students have practiced with various partners prior to the actual assessment, and then receive the prompt, randomly, from ones that they have practiced, on the day of actual assessment.   I was looking for a more relevant, authentic way to assess learning, and discovered Educreations, a FREE program!  With Educreations all student work, once they have enrolled in your course via your private code,  gets sent directly to your computer, making grading the projects relatively easy….no paper involved!

With the iPads, students are able to take pictures and upload them, draw pictures on the iPad or upload images from the internet.  They also are able to write or type text on or around their pictures.  The final step is recording their voices.  This last step is mandatory, as the project can not be saved until the student has recorded. As far as technology projects go, this one went very smoothly.  There were a few bumps in the road: background noise is always a problem when recording individuals in large classes (there were 26 – 29 students working in each class), but all of the recordings make the recording student very audible. The biggest problem was discovering that if they wanted to delete their recording on one page and re-record, they could not change the order of the recordings on their pictures, meaning that the recording then did not match the appropriate page. And, of course, we could have benefited from more than 12 iPads (the number that my county had available to loan).  Also, I would love to see an app for Educreations for Smart phones.

I allowed 2 days for this project:  one day for the students to familiarize themselves with the features of Educreations, and to practice, and day two for the actual assessment.  On the first day, students were directed to create a page using a picture they took, a page with an image from the internet, and a page that they drew.  They wrote/typed on all pages and recorded on all pages.  They were directed to include at least 4 articles of clothing on each page, 4 descriptors and they had to use verbs (present or past).  I informally assessed their work based on the fact that they completed the majority of the assignment. On the second day, the day of formal assessment, I eliminated the internet image search because it just took too much time for some of them to find what they wanted.  Instead, I had posted large color pictures of entire outfits (34 of them), many with celebrities (Big Papi, One Direction, Taylor Swift, Ray Rice, Luke Bryan,  Romeo Santos, etc) around the room so that they could take that picture with their iPad. On the second day, they focused on taking two pictures (of themselves or the posted pictures) or one picture and one drawing.  The parameters of at least 4 articles of clothing, 4 descriptors and verbs remained, with the recording on all pages shared by the students involved.  I also gave them an example of what I expected.

I am not exaggerating when I say that all of my students were actively engaged in this project.  There were no “slackers”.  Most of them thoroughly enjoyed working on the project and have asked when they get to use the program again.  The excitement and interest was real, and I wish that a supervisor had been officially observing!

Here are some examples of their work, with the good and the bad:  good vocabulary, lack of noun/adjective agreement, some imperfect tense verbs!!!, and some mispronunciations:

Ejercicios para escuchar…..

As language teachers, we spend a lot of time trying to give our students ample opportunities to speak as well as to listen.  We know that listening is the crucial skill that leads to language acquisition.  Perhaps some of you have reached the point where listening activities in your textbooks just are not adequate, or they are boring, or they are not relevant and certainly not authentic.  This post is to share some different types of listening activities that I have come to rely on.  In no particular order:

1.  Take any group of related vocabulary that you may be working with and create a document with a word bank and pictures.  My example is something that my Spanish III students were working on toward the end of the year, a unit on bullfighting in Spain.  La Corrida de toros La corrida 2There are many options, and I used just about all of them with this particular document. I retold all of our information about bullfighting, and as I did this, the paired students identified which picture I was talking about.  When I was done, the paired students then identified the pictures, in random order, saying the vocabulary word that is listed in the word bank.  The paired students can ask each other to indicate which picture goes with a specific word.  Finally, the paired students can recreate all of the information that they know about bullfighting by using the words in the word bank and indicating the pictures.

2.  Use any SHORT (no more than a minute or so) high interest video.  My students are really into sports, and we were learning about all types of sports.  I took a clip from ESPN called las mejores jugadas de la semana and created three different types of listening activities from it. Sometimes students worked individually, sometimes with a partner.  Play the video at least once prior to working with it.  I actually played it the day before I intended to do anything with it, and asked students to tell me what they knew from the video.  The next day, with a partner, I asked them to focus on a very limited range of information: what country each ball player was from and to complete this chart: ESPN 2Individually, the next day, I played the clip again, and asked them to attempt to identify/answer 5 pieces of information.  Again, the listening focus was very narrow, and they had now heard the clip at least three times.

  • 1.     Hace su novena jonrón del año.  
  • 2.    ¿Qué es un campo corto?  
  • 3.    Bateó un jonrón larguísimo que llegó hasta el agua.  
  • 4.    Tenía una gran atrapada.  
  • 5.    Llevó la cuarta victoria de la temporada, 7 strikeouts y permitió 2 hits.  

Another activity, again with a partner, was to identify the team of each player mentioned.  For this activity, they are listening as well as reading the information on screen. 


Colorado Rockies


New York Mets

Gigantes de San Francisco

Azulejos (Toronto)

Medias Blancas

Texas Rangers









































De la Rosa
















Crédito Extra:  ¿Qué significa?  Perfecto hasta la séptima entrada

Some sites with great short clips:  BBC Mundo Noticias en 60 segundos  ESPN Deportes    Video      Video y Fotos-BBC Mundo

3.  Use a song to introduce a unit.  In this case, I was beginning a unit on sports, and decided to focus on this great song by Huecco.

The first day, the song was playing as the students entered the classroom.  They immediately requested that I play it again after the bell had rung!  The second day, we took a more focused look at it, as I asked them to attempt to complete this chart:

Escuchas muy bien!!!  Huecco……….                          

Sustantivos (Nouns)


Time Expressions















Fútbol y…….Wavin’ Flag

Having started the “sports/Spain” chapter with Spanish III, and having added lots of material related to jai-alai, la corrida de toros y la geografía de España in the last two years, I decided to expand the part on fútbol this year.  Actually, I was inspired by  Kara Jacobs and her mini unit on El Fútbol y la Copa Mundial.  In 2010, 2011 and 2012, I spent some time at the beginning of the school year with the songs Wavin’ Flag, Waka Waka and Grito Mundial.  I didn’t do that this year, so it seems logical to pick up something in the sports unit related to fútbol.  Today we spent just a bit of time with the song No hay dos sin tres (David Bisbal/Cali y el Dandee) and we talked a bit about the success of Spain in the recent years with fútbol.

The Plan:

Waka Waka will be playing as the students walk into class (it is routine that there is music playing as they walk in), and I may spend a minute or two talking about what they see/understand.  However, the lesson is going to be wrapped around Wavin’ Flag (David Bisbal and K’Naan).  Working with a partner, students will be given the Spanish lyrics to the song (without identifying what the song is).  Each group of two students will have two different colored highlighters to highlight first the nouns, then the verbs.  After a brief check to verify responses, the second step of this activity will be to place the nouns in three categories (people, places, things) and to place the verbs in a fourth column.  Hopefully, this will help them to give more context to the lyrics of the song.  I will spend just a few minutes with the verbs, asking them to look at tenses.  They have not worked with the future tense, so it will be interesting to see what they do with the verb seremos.  It will just be a glancing look….oh….future…do you recognize the infinitive….how do you think the future tense may be formed?

Next, I will give them two sets of sentence strips.  I’m going to use two different colors to separate the first two verses from the final two verses so that they are not overwhelmed by 15 strips of paper.  With their partner, as they listen to the song, they are going to attempt to put the lyrics in order.  However, the lyric strips that I will have given them are not in Spanish: they are loose translations in English.  I will have them attempt to do this without looking at the Spanish lyrics; they will be able to check their order with the Spanish lyrics after listening.

Embedded in this activity will be some vocabulary review, coming from recent units: fé, verdad, países, unir, fuertes, pueblo (as a people), vida, fuego as well as new vocabulary: campeones, comenzar, intentar.Of course, the last step to this activity is going to be to sing the song! Materials can be found here: Wavin Flag activity.
Here is what the lyric strips look like: wavin


Every year, after I finish the big music/social awareness unit with Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra and Carlos Baute, my students fear that the most compelling part of the curriculum has been covered.  Fortunately, we go right into a unit about Spain that has several really interesting components.  Yes, it contains grammar (preterite/imperfect yet again and the present perfect), but it also has a great deal about sports and culture of Spain.  I get to introduce them to David Bisbal and his ever popular Bulería, Macaco, Jarabe de Palo, and Pablo Alborán, among others.  We get to discover El País Vasco, Andalucia, Galicia, Cataluña, Castilla La Mancha, Madrid, etc.  AND, we also get to talk about jai-alai and la corrida de toros.

They are always interested in jai-alai, so I’ve tried to expand that part of the unit over the past several years. We will start by taking a look at
El País Vasco with this video:

and probably a bit from the Aventuras Vascas series:

For background information on jai-alai, I use these videos:

The Fastest Game in the World

For sheer silliness, I will include the infamous Steve O and Johnny Knoxville adventure into jai-alai   and also a brief Simpsons clip:

I created a powerpoint on jai-alai Jai- Alai-1-2 and I can share my own personal stories and pictures from games that I have attended. Somewhere along the years, I also was given an actual cesta, pelota and sash.  We leave the classroom, and I always let several students in each class attempt to throw  a ball (a koosh ball, not the actual pelota), with the cesta.  It’s usually something that they enjoy trying.

If you have other jai-alai resources, I would love to know about them.  Or, if you have other favorite activities from teaching about culture in Spain, please share.

Vocabulary Trees

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

  • Prostitución                                                          
  • Privilegio                                                              
  • Traficante/traficando                                          
  • Mutilar                                                                 
  • Suicidarse                                                            
  • Atrocidades                                                         
  • Abuso                                                                  
  • Crimen                                                           
  • Abandonar                                                            
  • Corrupción                                                            
  • Economía                                                              
  • Asesinar   
  • Robar                                                          
  • Gobierno                                                             
  • Libertad                                                     
  • Soldados

and words that are related to others that we know

    • Amar/amor
    • Esperar/esperanza         
    • Hambre, hambriento
    • Morir/Muerte
    • Pobre/Pobreza
    • Rico/Riqueza
    • Sangre/sangriento
    • Sentir/sentimientos
    • Soñar/Sueño
    • Sufrir/sufrimiento
    • Temer/temor


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)  
  • Asustado/a                                                           
  • Derechos                                                              
  • Disparar                                                              
  • Dolor                                                                    
  • Ejército                                                                
  • Esclavitud/esclavo                                                
  • Esconder                                                              
  • Guerra                                                                 
  • Herir/Heridos                                                      
  • Huérfano                                                              
  • Injusto (no es justo)                                             
  • Justo                                                                   
  • Lamentar/sentir
  • Matar                                               
  • Minas terrestres (minas tierras)                          
  • Oportunidad
  • Paz                                                    
  • Pena                                                                     
  • Perdón                                                                  
  • Secuestrar/secuestro                                          
  • 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:trees 3Trees 2Trees 1This visual representation of vocabulary by theme could be done with any number of themes.