Keeping Day of the Dead 90% target in level 1!

If you haven’t seen it, this is a great resource! Since there are no words, it lends itself perfectly to a movie talk and movie talk is a great way to provide input!

At one time, I thought that I had to do cultural lessons in L1 because the kids didn’t have enough L2 to handle the discussion… but I have found that any cultural topic can be discussed in TL if there are loads of cognates and lots of reps of the new structures!

Before introducing the video I asked them about Halloween. I wanted to establish the difference right away. We decided it was a day to be scared. (One of my structures for today was tener miedo- to be scared) Then I told them that Day of the Dead was like Memorial Day, a memorial to the dead. (we learned como for like/as early on and use the words simile and metaphor from level 1 to discuss comparisons… they’re easy cognates, try it!)

After we had established the mood of the holiday we talked about how they decorate (decorate is another Spanish cognate). We talked about fruits, flowers, and photos… their three Fs of the day. Of course there are lots of other decorations but I didn’t want to overwhelm and these are all over the video! I also explained that an esqueleto decorated for Day of the Dead can be called a calaca. I showed them all of the skeletons in my collection and they decided which were calacas.

Next I started the video. It is 3 minutes but we discussed for 30. I stopped for every emotion (because we’ve had feelings) and to look at decorations. I also added the structures quiere salir (we’ve had both quiere and salir just not together for wants to leave), celebran, and the word spirit as we talked about whether the mom really visited her daughter or not. Of course it was a great way to give them CI but they had plenty to say too! We have 11 weeks of Spanish under our belts now so they gave some great answers! (This is output and they are sticking to the 90% too, but remember it isn’t forced output if they have the language to say it!)

They have a full background on the holiday and later in the week we are going to do something simliar with the trailer for “The Book of Life”.

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

10 thoughts

    1. The whole video is only 3 minutes but i paused every few seconds to discuss what was happening with them! I had them do a lot of describing what they sae and I gave them cultural facts like pan de muertos as they appeared in the video.

    1. I do. We are reading right now and it seems like 2-3 new ones pop up each day in the novel. I took a break today to do the video and I tried to recycle some of our structures from the novel as well (has, wants, returns, leaves).

    1. I don’t know why but the link to the video wasn’t showing up as a link… So I updated it. It is a different video that we did today! GREAT video that made the rounds of Twitter and moreTPRS last year! In case you didn’t see it, it is there now!

  1. I am doing MovieTalk with that video this week. Next class we are doing stations related to the video. Stations such as Textivate, Blubbr, match the screenshot with the text, and making papel picado! Definitely a great video!

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