A Valuable Lesson

Many moons ago, when I was teaching Spanish to middle school students, I learned many valuable lessons. Today, I want to share one of those lessons with you.

On a crisp morning in March, I arrived at school ready to teach my sixth grade class the difference between the verbs “ser” and “estar”.  That particular day, though, there was a lot of excitment in class about being St.  Patrick’s Day, and the students, who were dressed in all sorts of greens, wanted to talk about the Irish holiday.  What I found most interesting was that they asked me questions like, how do you say “shamrock” in Spanish? and how do you say “leprechaun” in Spanish?, and so on.  So, I decided to step back from my prepared grammar lesson, and took the opportunity to build a lesson on Spanish vocabulary on the spot to answer my student’s questions about St. Patrick’s Day.  It was such a fun and spontaneous experience that it gave me an idea.  Why not create Spanish lessons that teach students about other holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Valentine’s Day, etc.  It was so clear to me at that moment because one thing I’ve always aimed to do in my teaching is to make learning fun and pertinent, and my students reinforced that principle for me again that day.

But that evening, when I went home to research sources for lessons in Spanish about holidays throughout the year, I found very little.  And that’s when I was inspired to write the book “Cultural Lessons en Español”.  Because I believe that when you teach about culture gradually throughout the year, with simple lessons like the ones you will find in my book, you can give children a great context for learning that makes it fun and engaging for them.  So, the valuable lesson I learned that day was to take a step back, listen to my students, and seize the moment.  It made all the difference!