Monday, April 2, 2012

What's on in Madrid? (writing activity)

My 7th graders are currently working on numbers and time vocabulary.  During this unit, I've created lots of activities that integrate culture into language practice.  I'm really proud of these activities because they exemplify what I believe language learning should be: culture and language woven together.  Since one of my goals is to blog more about what goes on in my classroom, I'd like to share some of these activities.  (A quick note: all of these activities are about Spain because that's our current country focus in 7th grade. I do similar activities about Mexico and Ecuador with my 6th graders when they do numbers.)

Today's peek into my classroom: a writing activity based on a real guide of "What's on in Madrid?" that I got while I lived there. (You can download current and past issues of the pamphlet on the Madrid VCB webpage.  Be sure to check out all the other awesome resources on the page while you're there!) My students get to choose from several pages that I've copied for them from my pamphlet: such as "Museums and Parks" and "Food and Flamenco".

one of the guide pages my students can choose from
They choose several places from their pages that they are interested in and then must use the information to fill in a chart about each place: name / phone number / opening time / closing time / basic description.
Students fill in one row for each place they choose.
For this activity, I let them work individually, with a partner, or in a small group -- their choice.  Since all the numbers in the guide are written numerically, students have to practice their vocab to write out all the numbers in Spanish, as you can see from my example in the picture above.  In addition to the writing practice, they learn that saying phone numbers is different in Spanish-speaking countries than it is here (you have to use two-digit and 3-digit numbers) and that some Spanish-speaking countries use military time for schedules.  They also learn "a la/las..." for "at" a certain time (instead of "It's" a certain time right now).

And of course, they get to learn more about Madrid!  (We do this activity the day after we watch the part of a video about Spain that focuses on Madrid, so they have some background knowledge about the city.)  Students who choose "Museums/Parks" get a peek at some of the famous places to visit in Madrid, and the students who choose "Food/Flamenco" get to learn about Spanish foods from the restaurant descriptions.  I also run a self-scrolling slideshow with pictures of Madrid on the projector while they work so they can see more sights.

As with all culture-vocab combination activities I do, students are WAY more intensely engaged than if they were just practicing the language by itself!


  1. It looks really interesting, Jennifer, & I bet language teachers would love the idea. It takes some work to get it all together, right? And another person to work with? Cheers!

  2. Here I love the idea of the slideshow!! Totally stealing it!!

  3. Here I love the idea of the slideshow!! Totally stealing it!!


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