A cultural event for you and your students: Music of Spain and Latin America

Click here to watch the concert on YouTube

Join soprano Andrea Veal, pianist Kathryn Lundahl, and classical guitarist David Ross for an evening of music from Spain and Latin America.  The program includes songs by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, zarzuela arias (a Spanish form of music theater that draws on elements of opera, popular song, dance, and spoken dialog), little-known gems by Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino, as well as solo repertoire for piano and guitar.  So that you may examine regional and dialectical variations, song translations are available to download below.  A slide show of images from Spain and Argentina prepared by Professor John Chaston of UNH was presented before and after the recital. 

Download song lyrics and translations to use in your classes.


Mundo Gaturro - Virtual Immersion:  Michael Clauss - (Download this helpful hint as a PDF)

Mundo Gaturro is a flash-based massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) based on the popular argentine comic Gaturro. Players of the game are each given an avatar cat that they can maneuver around a virtual world called Mundo Gaturro. There is no cost to obtain a basic cat avatar. The only thing needed to register is an e-mail address. Once in the game, players can interact with other players using a chat interface. There is a limited list of pre-composed chat messages that can be selected or players can compose their own short original messages. Because the game is based in Argentina, the great majority of the kids playing it are argentine with the remainder being from other Spanish-speaking countries. The game provides non-native speakers of Spanish with a virtual immersion experience. All of the input in the game, of which there is a lot, is in Spanish.

Mundo Gaturro itself is divided into a number of different sections. There is a beach, a park, a city center, mountains, an island, etc. Each section features games, and tasks that the avatars can complete to earn coins (monedas) or other items for their cats. Each avatar is also given a house which they can decorate with the items they have collected. The coins can be redeemed for a limited set of basic items such as clothing, furniture, food, etc. Only avatars that have purchased a passport (with real money) are able to select from the much wider array of “passport” items available in the game. Although an avatar without a passport cannot buy these items they can be obtained through trading with other avatars. This provides additional incentive for students to interact with the others in the game.

I have had great success using this game with my students. It provides them with an amazing amount of authentic written input in the target language in an authentic context. I usually take a portion of a class to set up their accounts and give them a brief introduction to how the game works. After that I don’t use it too often in the classroom, but encourage students to use it on their own outside of class. Sometimes I award them with bonus activities or points on assessments if they are able to complete certain tasks within the game on their own.

Here is a list of some of the challenges I have given in the past:

• New vocabulary/expressions: List 15 new words or expressions you learned in the game.

• Make a list of 20 cognates you found in Mundo Gaturro.

• Grammar knowledge: List at least three pieces of old information that you either used or saw being used. List at least one new piece of knowledge (grammar concepts, not vocabulary).

• Write one observation you have made about either the social interactions of Argentine children or a cultural theme from Mundo Gaturro. Compare/contrast with your own social interactions and culture.

• Identify at least three expressions or colloquial uses of the Spanish language from Argentina found in the game.

• Identify at least five examples of internet/text message slang or abbreviations used by other Gaturros.

• Identify at least five examples of words borrowed from the English language used in Mundo Gaturro.

• Identify at least five misspelled words used by other Gaturros (not classmates).

• Hold an extended chat with another Gaturro on a variety of topics. (Must be in Spanish with a Gaturro not from this school!) With whom did you chat? What were some of the topics you talked about?

• Get an item only available to someone with a passport. (Must be obtained from a Gaturro not from this school!)

• Complete one of the more complex temporary tasks in the game and receive the final reward. What was the task? What was the reward?How did you get it?

These are just a few activities. I’m sure you can think of more ways to use this with your students. In a future Helpful Hint I will tell you about how I have used Mundo Gaturro with several additional programs to provide students with spoken language opportunities, a key component missing from the game.


Song for Teaching Irregular Preterites:  Jackie Dubay - (Download this helpful hint as a PDF , Download an mp3 of Jackie singing the irregular preterite song)

Great Way to Introduce Irregular Stem Verbs in the Preterite Tense

Introducing the Irregular Stem Verbs in the preterite tense is one of my favorite lessons.  I use a song, learned from one of my own high school teachers, to introduce this lesson.  The song is to the tune of 10 Little Indians and lists 11 irregular stem verbs in the yo form.

I start out the lesson by introducing the song piece by piece.  I have students sing each piece back to me.  I will go on to the next piece, have students repeat after me, and then go through the two pieces together.  Sometimes I will point to students individually to recite back from me what they hear.  I do all of this before I give the students the handout.  After about 5-7 minutes of this, I will finally give students a handout with the song on it, and we will sing it all together so that they can look at the words.

The handout in the file above has the song typed out and requires students to list the original infinitive of the irregular stem yo form and the definition of that infinitive.  We go through this together.  Then the right side of the paper we go through the guided notes explaining these verbs and how they are conjugated.  My guided notes section is designed to be done after students have already learned the irregular preterite conjugations of ser, ir, dar, and ver.  If the order of your lessons is set up differently, I have also provided a handout without these notes.

Over the next couple classes we spend about 5 minutes practicing memorization of the song, in addition to our normal practice and review.  On the 4th class, right before the quiz is administered, students are given an “extra credit opportunity” to recite the song from memory (they are told about this when the song is first introduced).  Students who volunteer and are successful earn 5% extra on their quiz.  I find that this is a great incentive for students to learn the song, which in turn helps them greatly on the quiz.  I usually have at least a handful of students that will recite the song from memory, and often these students don’t even really need the extra credit that they earn.  I am pleased to see how well all of the students do overall on this concept.


Cultural Crossover:  John Chaston and Lina Lee - (Download this helpful hint as a Word document)

Background and rationale for activity:  This hint is designed to introduce students to well-known and accomplished musical performers from English and Spanish speaking countries who have collaborated in the recording and performance of hit songs which incorporate both English and Spanish into the lyrics. It demonstrates the acceptance, influence, and incorporation of music from the United States into the music of Spanish speaking countries, and it also shows the acceptance of Spanish language music into mainstream music in the United States. At the very least it shows that the artists and composers are connected and collaborating and have crossed national and cultural boarders. The handout is self explanatory in what it presents: (a) there are authors and artists that “belong” to all peoples and countries if we allow it; (b) it directs students to YouTube audio/video versions of two “collaborative” songs by famous artists and it allows for discussion of whether the students like these songs or not; (c) it provides for the opportunity for students to research David Bisbal and Alejandro Sanz, two accomplished Spanish pop artists; (d) it allows a chance for students to investigate additional “crossover artists”. The instructor can assign reports to students or expand this idea in any way that they wish.

Colaborando y cantando juntos en ingles y español

Hay autores y artistas de todo tipo que son para todos nosotros en todo el mundo. Miguel de Cervantes es un autor para todos. Su novela El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de La Mancha es una de las obras más importantes y traducidas de la literatura mundial. Lo mismo es verdad con Shakespeare y sus obras. Actualmente muchos autores tales como Isabel Allende (de Chile) y Dan Brown (de Estados Unidos) son leídos por lectores tanto en las lenguas originales como en otras lenguas. Durante décadas ya hay artistas como Julio y Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Ricky Martin y más que han cantado y grabado discos en español e inglés. Ultimamente estamos viendo otro fenómeno de cooperación y colaboración: famosos cantantes de mi país y tu país que cantan a dueto canciones con parte de la letra en inglés y parte de la letra en español. David Bisbal de España canta con Miley Cyrus la canción When I Look at You/Te miro a ti y Alicia Keys canta con Alejandro Sanz la canción Looking for Paradise. En el caso de estas dos canciones todos los artistas son de los más famosos y escuchados de sus respectivos países y se escuchan y se cantan las canciones por todas partes. Para escuchar estas canciones visita los siguientes sitios web:


1. ¿Te gustan estas canciones? ¿Por qué?



2. ¿Cuál te gusta más? ¿Por qué?




a) ¿Quién es Alicia Keyes?


b) ¿Quién es Miley Cyrus?


c) ¿Quién es David Bisbal?


d) ¿Quién es Alejandro Sanz?



4. ¿Cuáles son otros cantantes u otras canciones que conoces en inglés y español? Comparte esta información con la clase y si deseas, lleva un disco o ven a clase con la dirección de YouTube para que todos puedan escuchar estas canciones.





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