The other day I was in a city in the north of Tenerife, called Icod de los Vinos, and was witness to a tradition that occurs in this city every November 29th: young people riding on greased boards racing down some of the town’s steep streets to a pile of tires sitting at the bottom.
The first thing you think when you approach the event is that these people are a little crazy for throwing themselves at full speed downhill. Then you hear the commotion and see all the glasses of new wine. Did I say that this party celebrates the opening of the new barrels of wine of the year?
Watching the young people – and some not so young – getting tossed against the tires reminded me of how sometimes in the class room it’s easy to end up in tight spots that aren’t easy to get out of. That feeling of being in over your head is something that we Spanish teachers know well from personal experience.
The desire to offer Spanish students something new
The desire to offer students something different and new often inspires us to arrange in-class activities that sometimes aren’t as successful as we’d like them to be due to hasty planning.
Just to give an example, I remember one time when we were practicing the difference between the present and imperfect of the indicative. I handed out to the class some photos from the 50s and 60s of the city they were studying in. The idea was for the photos to prompt students to use the Spanish tenses we were working on by comparing the images of the city as it was in the past with the city in the present.
It’s not a bad idea, but it’s not original either – yet it seemed like an appropriate task. What I didn’t keep in mind however was that, in the school I teach in, students came and went each week, which means we can’t do any projects that last longer than five days. You can imagine how stressed out I felt over the next five days… Fortunately, the motivation and speed of the students, which I am greatly appreciative of, made the task a success. On Friday, the last day of the course for some of them, we were able to do the presentation in the school’s common area, with everyone commenting on the photos over some nice sangria.
When we hear, read, or think about a new activity to use in class, we should consider our own limitations and other barriers that may get in the way.
Even brilliant ideas can end up turning into enormous disasters; spending time planning, organizing, revising and scheduling an activity is tedious work, yet it’s vital to make your idea a successful one.
by Lauris on Thursday, November 28, 2013
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by Lauris on Thursday, November 21, 2013
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