“I liked that I had the ability to actually have a conversation with a native Spanish speaker at the mall and the Expo.”
“ I really liked creating the dress, and seeing how the entire theme came together. Seeing that all our hard work paid off, made everything worth it. Especially winning the dress competition.”
“I liked how it was very real world learning. That we applied the Spanish we learned to the real world.”
These are just a few of the reflections after the Quinceañera Expo recently held by the Spanish 2 classes. Groups were organized into event planning companies to create booths for the Expo that would present ideas and options for venues, catering, flowers, transportation, music, entertainment, dresses, accessories and gifts for a Quinceañera.
While researching this coming of age tradition learners began to understand the religious and cultural significance of this event in the lives of their peers and also discovered that Quinceañeras have become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. To create authenticity, each group presented their information to Spanish-speaking parents and community members who acted as evaluators during the Expo.
Learners used their various talents to express their creativity at the Expo. Some designed and created recyclable dresses for the Quinceañera fashion show. Others choreographed and taught their classmates a traditional waltz, crafted invitations or created menus and sample foods for the special event.
One of the highlights of the project was the day spent at La Gran Plaza Mall in Fort Worth where they practiced speaking Spanish in a real world setting interacting with shopkeepers to gather information about prices and options for their Expo.
Trying to speak Spanish outside the walls of the classroom gave the learners new perspectives and built their confidence and willingness to take risks in the target language. When asked about her experience at the mall, one learner said, “I learned that it's okay to branch out and try to speak in a different language because if you never try you'll never improve. I also learned that the Mexican culture is very different from American.”
Another learner observed, “During this field trip I learned how to better understand what people are saying. For example, if you miss a word, figure it out with context clues. Don’t get stuck on it, otherwise you will miss everything else they say. I also learned how to order food in Spanish. I was worried at first but it was really easy. My favorite thing is that when I spoke I spoke pretty well and I realized that it was not so hard.”
The field trip immersed learners in an environment where they challenged themselves to speak while giving them an authentic opportunity for research and learning about culture.