Holiday traditions inquiry style

I recently took my level 2 and 4 students to a Mexican restaurant-as they are in a unit either on the restaurant (Sp 2) or holidays and celebrations (sp 4). Among other authentic dishes, tamales were also on the menu. Now, as an oral assessment for the 2’s- they had a list of several expressions/vocab terms they had to use during their conversations in Spanish while at the restaurant. The 4’s, had to listen, correct when necessary, and sign/validate the paper- I of course was always nearby with an acute ear always listening for any regression into English- which in any language classroom is a no-no- Except- if we are talking about culture – after all- we want the kids to enjoy learning about cultures, and not feel pressured that they have to produce language to learn about it.

Which brings me to this painting by chicana Carmen Lomaz Garza, titled Tamalada, 1990.

Depending on the level- so many things can be done with this. For starters- doing a QFT is a great way to open up questions and conversations regarding any cultural concept in a language classroom. And food/art is no exception.

So before embarking on any other activity- starting students off with observation, markers, group butcher paper and their thinking caps- this (or any other cultural image/painting), is a great way to get those conversations and questions started.

QFT is an inquiry based method developed by the Right Question Institute. In this case it can be done in English for beginner levels 1,2 or even 3 depending on what kind of 3’s they are, or, it can be done in the target language for upper levels- combining this inquiry based method with language proficiency.

What do after QFT? Keep in mind- QFT can take anywhere from 15-60 minutes depending on if you include each stage, and how long you time students for. If your lesson is not QFT focused, but you want to at least do the brainstorming activity getting their questions going- this is an option. This is what I did for this particular lesson.

Here is a run down of different level ideas POST QFT.

Level 1- After their questions have been shared- research them in groups and think/pare/share out results in English- Follow up with a T/F activity based on what they see-in the target language. Ex: The girl is in the doorway with her father. The family all has black hair. They …

Level 2- Same- but hopefully bringing in more vocab having to do with what things are made, how things are made, who is involved, more kitchen/food vocab and more, in the target language. Perhaps also bringing in the present progressive, or imperative tenses- include as many different gramatically relevant tenses when making up the sentences. Ex: The women are filling tamales. They children are playing with dolls, (remember they are T/F) Mom says to daughter: Fill the leaf, knead the dough, etc (or false statements).

Level 3+- Same, but all in the past tenses- including preterite, past perfect, imperfect, etc.

Advanced- You can also look at a recipe for Tamales (here are a few in Spanish, and in English), and create a list of the steps and then number the actions seen in the painting according to the steps in the recipe, and then- using Future and Conditional tenses- predict what they will/would do next.

Once you’ve talked about any and all of the above- bring in family values- mexican culture, chicano cultures- and how holidays and celebrations (even just birthdays) are family affairs.

So many different ways to blend inquiry through QFT, language and culture.

How do you teach about culture and arts with questions? Here are some more ideas on how to use QFT in the Spanish classroom. Have you joined our FB inquiry based community yet? Would love to hear your comments below.

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