Where have all the language teachers gone?

This year we have a new Spanish teacher position, and have had almost no applicants. To be honest, when I got my job at this school 5 years ago, I think it’s because of the same situation; they hired the first relatively qualified person who walked through the door. I am amazed and confused by the seeming shortage of world language teachers, specifically Spanish teachers. I don’t know whether it’s just here in Denver, or whether it is across the nation. I know teaching in general is not as attractive a career as it used to be, but I am wondering what can be done to encourage more young people to become world language teachers.

This article explains the situation and has a couple of possible solutions: http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Schools-confront-shortage-of-world-language-10996278.php

As I think of solutions, a few things come to mind:

-Make teacher, specifically world language teacher, an attractive career option to middle and high school students. With my Spanish IV class at my former schools, we used to do a partnership with the elementary school across the street where the students taught a week or two of lessons. I gave the students class time and support in creating and practicing the delivery of their lessons. I can’t say that any of those particular students became language teachers, but three of them did become teachers.

-Partner with area colleges and universities to encourage world language education in the School of Education and also Modern Languages. This would also aid in direct recruitment of recently-graduated teachers. I have heard that there are so many PhD Spanish candidates out there that teachers with a Master’s in Spanish are having trouble finding jobs in colleges and universities. If this is true, perhaps we can woo those master’s students to K-12 education.

-Develop an intensive in-house teacher recruitment and training where a college graduate without prior teacher training/experience is hired and receives on-the-job training. This would require a full-time instructional coach whose sole job was to be in the classrooms of these few individuals and to meet with them with feedback, professional development, and next steps. One pre-requisite to hire would be at least an advance-low proficiency level in the target languages. This would only be possible in areas where alternative certification is allowed, or a teaching license is not required, such as charter schools.

-The article above mentions looking to teachers to hire from abroad, which sounds enticing but also complicated.

Feel free to comment below if you have any explanations for the shortage or suggestions as to how to address it.






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Remedios Varo

The Spanish-born Mexican artist Remedios Varo is my current fascination, and I’m trying to see how I can make her the subject of a lesson. I learned about her from a reading the the textbook Temas, but I find the reading to be quite dense. I’m intrigued not only by her art, but also the fact that she was a female surrealist. When we talk about art in class, we talk mostly about men, so I am glad to have a woman to talk about. Here are the few resources I have so far; hopefully a lesson that I can post will spring from this.


http://tadamsspanishahs.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/84390352/ch%202%20text%20p.72-81.pdf (brief reading/grammar exercise on page 77)








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Como agua para chocolate

I have been using the first chapter of the book and the film in a unit about food for my pre-AP Spanish students. I first read the book while I was in college and saw the film when it came out in the theater in 1992. I start with a brief overview of the Mexican Revolution and then we read the first chapter. I have the students listen along then we pause every so often to answer questions and look for examples of Magical Realism. The students get very interested in the relationships between the characters and start rooting for either Pedro or the physician to win Tita’s heart.

Here are some resources for the book and film:

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/a2-como-agua-para-chocolate-study-booklet-11063982 (you have to register; it’s free)

http://www.languagesresources.co.uk/SpanishA2Literature.html (scroll down to the “Como agua para chocolate” resources)

materials for purchase https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:como%20agua%20para%20chocolate

film and lesson plans for purchase https://filmarobics.com/like-water-for-chocolate-como-agua-para-chocolate?search=chocolate











A text called Graded Spanish Reader: Primera Etapa by Cengage Learning has pre- and post-reading activities for the first chapter.

The textbook Encuentros Maravillosos chapter 7 has an excerpt and comprehension questions.

Reading guide on ISSUU


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Cooperative Learning and Languages

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working with pre-service teachers, and I find myself digging through my resources from when I taught Spanish at the lower levels in order to give my student teachers strategies to add to their repertoire before heading out to their own classroom. Here’s a collection of tricks and tools for cooperative learning.

Fan-N-Pick from Martina Bex: https://martinabex.com/2013/04/06/fan-n-pick-forms/

Quiz-Quiz-Trade from Martina Bex: https://martinabex.com/2017/02/07/quiz-quiz-trade-with-afro-latino-example-question-set/

Jigsaw reading: http://palmyraspanish1.blogspot.com/2014/01/jigsaw-activity-in-reading-combined.html

Blind sequencing–great for stories (example is from social studies): https://www.saisd.net/admin/curric/sstudies/resources/teacher_zone/Cooperative/pdf/cl_blind_sequence.pdf

Packet of picture sequences that could be used for blind sequencing: https://ckochefkogerman.wikispaces.com/file/view/AP_Program_Picture_Sequences_from_AP_French_-_German_and_Spanish_Exams.pdf

Videos and explanations of multiple cooperative strategies: http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/all-tools

Cooperative learning toolbox for $7 at TpT: http://appletasticlearning.com/2016/12/15/cooperative-learning-strategies/



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I’ve had a few pre-service teachers doing observation hours and student teaching with me the last few years, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can mentor them in the best way possible. I want to dedicate this post to resources that I collect that I believe can support a student teacher.

Annenburg videos: They are dated, but provide good teaching models for teachers, and include learning materials for the student teacher to use as they work with the videos.



Useful videos from Wisconsin about the modes of communication: http://wimedialab.org/worldlanguageassessment/video.htm

The TELL Project (Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning): http://www.tellproject.org/framework/

Training modules, videos and other resources at http://www.sedl.org/expertise/historical/loteced.html

Dr. Cherice Montgomery has great resources:

–Language Links 2006: http://languagelinks2006.wikispaces.com/Instructional+Strategies

–Meaningful Methods: http://meaningfulmethods.wikispaces.com/

–Teens and Tech: http://teensntech.wikispaces.com

–Think Thematic: http://thinkthematic.wikispaces.com/

TPRS Storytelling has a youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsnrjR8QVCUD56gLPmycrug/videos

I found these language teaching modules from Texas: https://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/

Wiki for new world language teachers: https://mpsforeignlanguages.wikispaces.com/Toolbox

ACTFL has a virtural learning library, but the videos cost money: https://www.pathlms.com/actfl/courses

I think previous blog posts of mine would also be useful:





Highly Engaged Classroom http://www.centergrove.k12.in.us/cms/lib4/IN01000850/Centricity/Domain/1217/The%20Main%20Idea%20-%20The%20Highly%20Engaged%20Classroom.Pdf

Qualities of exceptional teachers: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104138/chapters/The-Qualities-of-Great-Teachers.aspx

How to accept constructive criticism: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/11/07/taking-constructive-criticism-like-a-champ/#24d30bb92c0c








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Chilean New Song Movement

Here is a post of notes. I have not developed any of this into lesson plans as of yet, but hope to do so one day. 🙂

The film “No” starring Gael García Bernal http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2059255/

Top 10 Chilean protest songs http://soundsandcolours.com/articles/chile/top-10-chilean-protest-songs-28270/

Los Prisioneros and protest songs from the 80’s http://latinousa.org/2017/01/13/rebellious-voice-1980s-chile/

El equipo fantasma de Chile http://radioambulante.org/audio/el-equipo-fantasma and lesson plan http://languagelabunleashed.org/2015/02/teaching-listening-el-equipo-fantasma-lesson-plan/

Chilean new song movement http://www.folkways.si.edu/latin-american-protest-songs-new-song-of-chile-and-cuba/tools-for-teaching/smithsonian

Resources for “La nueva canción chilena” http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-702.html#presentacion

Resource from Educachile.cl http://www.educarchile.cl/ech/pro/app/detalle?id=189693

Chile and Violeta Parra: http://www.delearte.com/2012/06/el-mundo-con-ene-chile.html?platform=hootsuite

“Gracias a la vida” por Violeta Parra: http://www.veintemundos.com/magazines/10-en/cancionero/






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My pre-AP and AP Spanish course syllabi

Here are my syllabi for pre-AP and AP Spanish Language and Culture from last year. They have this year’s date, but I am having to cut out and re-arrange some things because the schedule this year has shorter class periods. I teach pre-AP and AP Spanish Language to heritage Spanish speakers. Since it is a charter school, I believe we have a longer school year than a typical public school.




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Teaching materials created by others

It’s the time of the school year where we are finishing the first semester on the fumes of the energy we had in August or September, and may be eyeing next semester with some apprehension.

While I am a big believer in free materials for teachers because I know how little we make in comparison to others with the same level of education and experience as us, I also believe that ready-made materials for purchase can help us out when time and sleep are in short supply. I also believe that other teachers should be paid for the materials that they spent their precious time making.  I think for-purchase materials are also great because, honestly, why are thousands of teachers creating curriculum from scratch every year? Perhaps your’re willing to spend some of your own money, or you can get some funds from your school, or perhaps raise funds on https://www.donorschoose.org/.

Therefore, I’d like to dedicate this post to places where Spanish teachers can find reasonably-priced products. I will warn you that I have not purchased and used all of these products, so please look them over carefully before purchasing.

Spanishplans.org has a blog and its own store at http://www.spanishteachershop.com/

DeleArte.com is a favorite of mine, with lots of free activities as well as a few items for purchase in their store at http://www.delearte.com/p/tienda-virtual.html

Feel like showing a movie? Filaromics.com has films with lesson plans for sale.

Spark Enthusiasm a plethora of resources for purchase at http://sparkenthusiasm.com/Teacher_Resources.html

Speakinglatino.com has free and for-purchase materials at http://www.speakinglatino.com/teachers-resources/

This site only has a couple of reasonably-priced resources, but I believe they will add more with time: https://commongroundinternational.com/product-category/spanish-teacher-resources/

This site has free audio with the option to purchase worksheets for listening and reading comprehension: https://gumroad.com/spanishlistening

Teachers Pay Teachers is full of resources:

Bell-ringers https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20bell%20ringers

Weekly news readings https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SUBSCRIPTION-Weekly-news-summaries-for-Spanish-students-SPRING-2017-2510441

Projects https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20projects

Project-based learning https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:project%20based%20learning%20spanish

Webquests https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20webquests

Thematic units from Miraflores https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Miraflores or http://www.miraflores.org/ (might be easier to navigate)

Music-related resources https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:spanish%20music

Free Spanish resources https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:free%20spanish

There are even entire curricula available (at a significant price) for Spanish I and II (traditional and TPRS), heritage language learners, and even AP Spanish.

Spanish4teachers.org has FREE resources for teachers.:)

Better Lesson has resources for free, as well: http://betterlesson.com/community/directory/high_school/spanish

TES used to be free, but now many of the resources have to be purchased: https://www.tes.com/us

These free podcasts have accompanying worksheets that are not cheap, but are timesavers http://www.notesinspanish.com/store/

In addition to free materials, Zachary Jones as materials for purchase at http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/ebooks/

I hope you are able to find some free and low-cost items to make planning easier!



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Acentos perdidos

Estoy un poco obsesionada con un movimiento que promueve el uso correcto del la ortografía en español, y las tildes en particular. Todo comenzó con el siguiente comercial de Sprite que encontré en Internet mientras planeaba una lección sobre la importancia de las tildes para mis estudiantes de español como idioma de herencia.

Creo que el comercial es un poco difícil de entender, hasta para mis estudiantes hispanohablantes, así que hice mi propia transcripción para acompañarlo. Tuve que escuchar muchas, muchas veces; si encuentran errores en mi transcripción, por favor, avísenme.

Sprite commercial accents

El protagonista de este movimiento es Pablo Zulaica. Él anda colocando tildes en vías públicas donde encuentra errores ortográficos.

acentos perdidos

Zulaica tiene su propio sitio, y lo que me gusta más del sitio es que se puede bajar las tildes con las reglas incluidas para imprimir y colocar en su propia ciudad. He estado pensando en un uso más didáctico, o sea, una actividad del aula que se puede hacer con las tildes. Yo podría tener palabras colgadas en las paredes, y los estudiantes tienen que poner la tilde con la regla correcta en la palabra correcta o algo así.

Plantilla acentos_x6FINAL

El sitio de “Acentos perdidos” con los recursos imprimibles es http://acentosperdidos.blogspot.com/search/label/Imprimibles

La revista TECLA para estudiantes de español tiene un artículo con preguntas de comprensión sobre el movimiento “Acentos perdidos” para nivel C en http://www.mecd.gob.es/dctm/ministerio/educacion/actividad-internacional/consejerias/reino-unido/tecla/2010/05-10c.pdf?documentId=0901e72b80b4b4dd

El movimiento “Acentos perdidos” llegó a ser un Ted Talk. Aquí les comparto un artículo y el video de TEDx en Cuauhtémoc, México.



Para dar un argumento más balanceado al debate sobre la ortografía, les dejo con este artículo sobre un discurso que dio el gran escritor Gabriel García Márquez sobre la ortografía española.




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Ernesto “Che” Guevara: ¿Héroe revolucionario?

After my students watch the film “Diarios de motocicleta” I want them to debate Che Guevara’s place in history. Here are the resources I found so far for planning the post-viewing activities.


The film paints a more positive, idealistic impression of Che, so I looked online for resources that would show a more critical view of him. I found an article and comprehension questions that a teacher created for the article. In the interest of time, I might shorten the article.



This is a unit of study about heroes, and Che Guevara is included.


What I find very interesting and hope to have time to do both are a song and a poem that speak positively of Che.

The song by Víctor Jara and is called “Zamba del Che.” Here are the lyrics and the audio:


The poem about Che Guevara was written by Nicolás Guillén, which surprised me; it never entered my mind that Nicolás Guillén witnessed the Cuban Revolution. It does make sense since he passed away in 1989. Theh poem is called “Che Comandante.” Here is the poem with an audio of Nicolás Guillén reading it.


Finally, I have one more song that I want to add in order to critically examine Che’s role in the history of Latin America. It is called “Mc Guevaras o Che Donalds” by Kevin Johansen. Here are the lyrics and the music video:


What I have left to do is write questions for the songs and poem to not only check for understanding, but also lead students to evaluate the opposing points of view

This web page has several lessons relating to Che Guevara; one has a rubric for an argumentative essay about Che. I think I will do more of an oral debate in Socratic seminar style. http://pier.macmillan.yale.edu/lesson-plans-5

Here is a podcast with comprehension questions about Che Guevara’s life: http://www.delearte.com/2013/11/podcastellano-ernestito-ernesto-y-el.html

Just about every time I research a topic for class, I stumble upon other topics that could be made into lessons. This time Víctor Jara and his compelling story caught my attention, and led me to a topic called the Chilean New Song Movement. Maybe someday I can get lessons together, but if the topic interests you, the yale.edu site I mentioned above has a lesson plan, and Smithsonian Folkways has a lesson at http://www.folkways.si.edu/latin-american-protest-songs-new-song-of-chile-and-cuba/tools-for-teaching/smithsonian






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