In Spanish I I’ve been struggling with how to practice vocabulary and grammar in the most realistic situations possible. In a unit about free time, the textbook contains words such as comida, cena, cine, and película, which made me think of a fabulous activity that Zachary Jones does where students go online to choose a movie, a restaurant close to the theater, and figure up how much it will cost. The activity can be found at http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/vamos-al-cine-planea-tu-noche-de-cine-23-03-2012/.
I used his idea to make a more low-tech activity that we could do in the classroom since getting into the computer lab is not always possible at my school. I had the students work in pairs to read a page of movies and a page of restaurants in Buenos Aires, then choose which ones they wanted to go to. Here are the directions I gave the students, the movie and restaurant sheets, and the student answer sheet.
When finished, I asked the students to trade with other pairs and read what they wrote. Then I had students share some of their sentences with the class and I asked a few questions. The students handed the papers in so I could look through them, then I posted them on a bulletin board.
The parts about the lesson that I like are that the students used authentic cultural resources, and practiced targeted vocabulary and grammar. The part of the lesson that I am critical about is I cannot be sure what the students got out of it. Their efforts led to writing sentences on a paper that I looked over and posted in the classroom. How do I know they really learned anything? How could I have taken this activity further to make it more meaningful than writing a few sentences on a paper? Could it be a smaller part of a larger project? Could I change the finished product somehow? It just doesn’s sit well with me that the end of the activity is handing in a worksheet that no one will really do anything with. Reader comments and suggestions on this matter would be greatly appreciated!