Sunday, November 10, 2013

Commercials in Spanish at SLIC conference

On October 26, I did a presentation on commercials and how to use them in the Spanish class at the SLIC conference. SLIC is the Second Languages and Intercultural Council hosted by the Alberta Teachers' Association. SLIC, among other activities, organizes a language conference every year in Alberta. There are keynotes speakers and presentations on the different languages by teachers and other experts in second language pedagogics. To have a conference where language teachers, team leaders and administrators can discuss about language programs and second language teaching strategies should be an important annual event for everyone working directly in the implementation of these programs. Unfortunately, perhaps due to snow and other reasons, the turnout rate amongst attendees was lower than expected. I hope that everyone in the organization and specially language teachers could take time before the next conference to engage in conversation to ensure great PD opportunities are not missed next fall. 

My presentation was about the use of commercials in the Spanish class. I have been introducing commercials which I find interesting for a Spanish class in this blog. All of them are accessible under the tag "commercials".

During my presentation we discussed the importance of introducing authentic resources in the Spanish class and more specifically, commercials. I also introduced the article, "TV Commercials as Authentic Materials Communication, Culture and Critical Thinking" (by Odilea Rocha Erkaya. MEXTESOL Journal, Vol. 29. No1, 2005. ISSN 1405-3470). The author has deep insight of the values and possibilities that using commercials give students in ESL classes. The author's ideas can easily be applied to teaching Spanish. This is a must read for those teachers who want to get familiar with using commercials in a class.

In the rest of the presentation, we watched some of the commercials that I had previously introduced in my blog and new ones that can be accessed via this link.  We watched the Pancho's series for Lotería Primitiva and the campaigns created for soccer team Atlético de Madrid. We discussed linguistic and cultural elements that can be discussed in our classes. For example, what it means to support a soccer team in countries such as Argentina or Spain. This video taken in a football stadium in Spain shows how supporting a soccer team runs deep in Spanish families.
Another very important aspect we spoke about, was the use of commercials to promote critical thinking with our students. We agreed that the commercials created by non-profit organizations or government agencies are good tools to promote critical thinking and to introduce hot topics for discussion in our classes. Some companies have copied this pattern to increase their sales, there are some examples in the file with the links. By watching these commercials, students will not only be learning about culture but also but be able to utilize their critical thinking skills to assess commercial biases.
And here is the bitter parody they did in Mexico about this commercial:
We did not have time to go through all the commercials that appear in the supplied list; therefore, for those who attended the session and for those reading this post I'd like to make a request:
  • If you know a commercial that you like to use in your class  and it is not included on the list, let me  know.
  • It would be very useful to create and share a database with the scripts of the commercials we use in our classes. 
During the conference I just had time to attend one more presentation. Two Visiting Teachers from Spain working at the bilingual elementary school, Canyon Meadows, shared with us two activities which I enjoyed very much.
Paula Mendivil presented an activity she did with her grade 2 students. She introduced the Three Wise Men using dance and organized a performance during the Christmas school festival. However, the dancing part led to many other activities that required the use of Spanish (write a script, become familiar with instructions in Spanish etc.), and helped develop the students' organizational skills and increase their self-esteem.

The second activity was to create a theatre performance which includes dancing and singing based on the story of most famous Spanish knight, Don Quijote. In this case, Lali Molina, the other presenter, worked with her students for the whole school year to create a 50 minute performance for the year end celebration. Creating the play meant that students had to rehearse their parts and the singing,  do research and learn about the historical times when El Quijote was written, learn dances and design the set for the play. They also created all of the posters and tickets.

I find both activities very inspiring because different subjects were integrated in the same project. Moreover, students needed to use different skills and collaborate with their peers to create an activity that would be shared with the rest of the school.