Friday, February 26, 2016

Spanish Podcast

Last year, I came across a great resource for listening and comprehension of authentic Spanish (complete with dreamy Spain accent!) :)  As a white, Spanish-as-a-second-language, young, female teacher, I always felt it was important to expose my students to the rhythms and vocabulary and accents of native speakers much different than myself.  This is one great way to do so!

Spanish Podcast is an excellent resource from everything that I have found so far.

From @VSSpanishPodcast

On their website they have a 192 available episodes with their titles.  And their twitter profile is constantly tweeting out links to episodes as well. The episodes are 100% in Spanish, mainly spoken by a male.  The entire transcripts are available online, also in Spanish.  This might be initially intimidating if you are hoping to use these podcasts in a level 1 or 2 class, but I love the explanation that the website gives for why they choose not to translate their transcripts:

"Sólo puedes aprender a hablar y comprender español o cualquier otro idioma escuchándolo, no traduciéndolo. Si hablamos en inglés para explicarte cómo hablar español, sería una pérdida de tiempo, no aprenderías correctamente y nosotros queremos que tengas éxito. Si quieres aprender español o cualquier otro idioma, la única forma es estar totalmente inmerso en el idioma."

What an indictment of the majority of Spanish programs in the United States, am I right?!  Thankfully, there are teachers like you and I out there who know that there has to be a better way than filling in the verb conjugation tables and doing a packet of worksheets each day.  Not to imply that those things can't possibly benefit some students, but they do not typically build fluency.

Granted, I have not used these podcasts in a traditional classroom.  BUT, I have assigned it as preview homework for my group of students traveling to Spain this summer in order to familiarize themselves with cultural customs and to help get their ears used to Spanish.  I gave them much the same advice that Spanish Podcast gives its listeners:

Simplemente haz lo que puedas para entender lo que estamos diciendo mientras escuchas cada episodio del podcast. Una vez que lo hayas intentado, lee la transcripción en el blog y vuelve a escuchar el episodio."

  1.  Listen and try to catch any words you possibly can.  Maybe write them down on a notebook sheet of paper.
  2. Read the Spanish transcript and mark it up:  What words do you already know?  What words are new?  Which words are vitally important in this podcast?
  3. Listen to the podcast again and make any additional notes about what you understood.  Also, highlight areas of confusion or specific questions you want to bring to class.

Here is an example of how I used one episode to teach my Spanish travelers about greeting each other in Spain. 

If your students have Apple devices, these podcasts are available on iTunes.  If not, they are easily accessible by going to the website linked above.  They also sell audiobooks and have tongue twisters available for some fun practice with pronunciation.  One of my all-time favorite aspects of the website is their 7 videos that address techniques for how to become conversationally fluent in Spanish:  by listening, repeating, imitating, being consistent, learning from native speakers, NOT translating, and having fun!  What a great homework assignment for students who may be new to the concept of teaching in the target language!  

Have you used Spanish Podcast in class before?  Have you found other podcasts helpful?  I would love to hear from you!

Monday, February 1, 2016


 ¿Qué día es hoy?

Hoy es...lunes. *collective sigh from all students*

This is how many weeks in my classroom unintentionally started.  I wanted to begin class each day with a few simple questions in the target language and use some choral response to really get the blood flowing.  And yet, when the answer was "the first day of an impossible week and WHY ARE YOU REMINDING ME" it didn't always get the positivity I was hoping for.

That's why I have loved reading about the #CelebrateMonday trend going around.  What a way to change our school culture of complaints and defeat to inspiration and encouragement!
A photo posted by Bethany Hill_Central Elem (@mrshill_central_leadlearner) on
Teachers (and students) around the country have taken to posting pictures from their classrooms that make them smile, even on Mondays.  Young teachers have highlighted successful lessons, students have taken selfies with friends and administrators have boasted about the learning going on in various classrooms throughout their building.  When these things pop up on your feed, you can't help but catch on to the contagious energy and optimism!

A photo posted by Bethany Hill_Central Elem (@mrshill_central_leadlearner) on

I have also seen many educational leaders begin to post uplifting quotes and messages to inspire their colleagues as they start the week.  Some of my favorite quotes come from scrolling through the #CelebrateMonday hashtag on Twitter and Instagram alike!
A photo posted by Bethany Hill (@bethanyhill1) on
What can you do in your classroom to intentionally focus on starting the week off in a way that students can look forward to?  Can you implement a special ritual on Monday mornings to excite students?  How might your negativity (even unintentionally) in the hallway, in first period or with your fellow teachers impact students on Mondays in a way that is counterproductive to what you stand for the rest of the week?

I challenge you all to participate today (and each Monday) in spreading a chuckle, a compliment, or something that inspires you and tag it #CelebrateMonday.  Perhaps you can even challenge students to take a picture in your class on Monday morning and flood the internet with positivity!

Today I posted this:

To remind students that what feels like hopelessness on a foggy Monday morning might actually be the start of an important transformation in your growth.  What can you post before the day is out?