Simple Social Justice Lessons from the Spanish Classroom
In earlier blog posts, Mary and I have described what we mean by Progressive Language Teaching and Social Justice Education. Today I would like to share a few examples of how I teach Spanish for social justice. It’s actually quite simple – as long as you are willing to put in a few extra minutes during lesson planning.
I start with vocabulary. I switch out ordinary words with social justice vocabulary whenever possible. For example, when I teach pronunciation, in addition to asking students to read out common words for practice, I also have them read this list of Zapatista demands which inevitably lends to an interesting discussion about Mexican politics and history.
I do the same when teaching adjectives. Instead of “the red pen” and “the blue books”, I teach about “the strong woman” and “the important struggles”.
Incorporating History and Politics into Everyday Lessons
When teaching greetings, instead of using generic examples, I have created dialogues between Spanish-speaking activists, artists, or politicians:
I use similar characters when teaching basic descriptions. Here are a couple of examples from a guess-who game I invented:
These are just a few small examples. I have also found some good resources online. For example, on the Teaching for Peace website or Zambombazo (self-described as an “explosion of language and culture”). TodoELE also has some very thorough lesson plans with social justice themes. If you are willing to navigate, you can find ones on topics such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo or Climate Change.
I also facilitate the Spanish for Social Justice Teacher Network and our mandate is to create and share social justice resources for the Spanish classroom. We are working on a new, dynamic website which I will share soon. In the meantime, check out some more ideas on our website.