Summer Packet 2022

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2021Summer Packet 2020Holiday Packet 2020Summer Packet 2019Summer Packet 2017Summer Packet 2016

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

Summer is a great time to get out of the routine — to refresh and reenergize the mind, body, and spirit. That said, parents frequently ask me what they can do at home to supplement their child’s language study, particularly during the summer months and if they don’t speak the language themselves.

Before getting started, it is important to recognize that reaching a level of true proficiency in a language takes time. As a result, I strongly urge you to make sure that any enrichment activities you do at home are more fun than not: language-learning is a joyous process, and motivated, excited kids will accomplish more than you ever thought possible when they want to do something.

Second, in lieu of babbling on for ninety-seven more paragraphs, I am going to give you a roadmap to my website, so that you can find and explore exactly what you are looking for. If you need an actual roadmap/ travel guide and are planning to visit a Spanish-speaking country, check out THIS PAGE (my latest project, still in its infancy!).

Part 1: Resources

Not sure what your child learned this year in Spanish class? Check out the following links! Each page has resources by grade level of songs/ projects your child has worked on in Spanish class, as well as Quarter Summaries of the year.

  • Adult ClassDuolingo Language Challenge Posts
  • To read about my professional interests, click HERE.

Part 2: Language

Input is absolutely CRUCIAL here! If you don’t hear any Spanish, it is very unlikely that you will learn how to speak it. This input can come in countless forms. You can do the same activity every day (e.g., wake up and listen to ONE song in Spanish before breakfast); or keep it fresh, mix it up, and do something different every day. Either way, build the language into your daily routine, so that something feels “off” when you don’t do it. This input can be:

  • listening to songs, either playing in the background on your device while you do another task, or actively listening for words you know;
  • watching cartoons/movies or TV shows in your target language (Spanish voiceover with English subtitles);
  • working on an app, the Spanish Wordle, or a Guess the Language game for a few minutes every day;
  • playing a scavenger hunt out in public, noticing bilingual signs and Spanish translations when you go shopping;
  • traveling to the library to check out the world language section (go to the kid’s one! the adult one is full of grammar books! boring!! LOL);
  • traveling virtually —
    • for a playlist of Scholastic read-alouds in Spanish, click HERE;
    • for fairy tales in Spanish and English, click HERE;
  • traveling in real life, either to a Spanish-speaking country or to a restaurant or city with a lot of Spanish speakers.

Part 3: Culture

A friend once taught me that you don’t just learn to speak a language, you also have to learn to speak the culture. Bilingual speakers (and hyperpolyglots, of course) do not merely code-switch; they also culture-switch when bopping between languages. To that end, students can expand their perspective taking in countless ways, including but not limited to the following:

Conclusion

Wow! There are so many pieces that go into learning another language and culture! If you are looking more for themed activities, feel free to check out the Spanish Summer Packet from last year, LINK HERE.

And if your family would rather focus on, well, Family!, know that as in past years, all activities above are 100% optional. Have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see you in the fall!

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist ❤

Summer Packet 2021

PREVIOUS YEARS: Summer Packet 2020, Holiday Packet 2020, Summer Packet 2019, Summer Packet 2017, Summer Packet 2016

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

This summer, students are encouraged to continue their Spanish study by living the language, through whichever ‘access point’ they deem most exciting. It is important to tap into students’ interests here.

For example, if they like tech, work on a Spanish app consistently; if they like music, listen to songs in the target language; if they like art or science, check out the updated Culture Projects; if they like geography or travel, look at tags and stickers on clothing and fruits, and see how many Spanish-speaking countries they can find; if they like PE, complete the Camino For Good Summer Challenge (where you walk/bike/swim across Spain virtually and log your progress in an app, unlocking all sorts of fun along the way!).

Spanish class is all-encompassing, and as such, the goal is to make it fun so that students stick with it: language acquisition is a long journey, and it is important to enjoy the ride. For a plethora of links, resources, and ideas, keep reading!

NOTE: While the activities below are 100% optional, it is my hope that you and your family begin incorporating Spanish into your daily lives: small, frequent doses are the most potent and effective!


SPANISH & PE

  1. Camino For Good App– [virtual hike across Spain]
    • The idea is that you walk/swim/bike in your local area and each day you log your distance into the App. You will see your equivalent progression along the Camino Frances on the interactive map where you can get a real feel for the landscape and village life of the regions you pass through. The total distance of the Virtual Camino Frances is 485 mi/ 780 km.
    • As a way of keeping you motivated, the App has rich content in the form of over 2,000 photos, audio stories, local history and motivational quotes that get unlocked as you virtually travel through the 207 destinations along the way.”

SPANISH & FOOD

SPANISH & ART/SCIENCE

SPANISH & TECH

  • Work on a language-learning app consistently this summer. Make goals for yourself about how many points you want to earn, or how many levels you want to level-up, or how many days a week you will practice. Switch your device’s language to Spanish if you want to!
  • Watch cartoons and movies in the target language; the brain does an incredible amount of work when it is given the opportunity to sit back, listen, and absorb. Do not downplay the importance of this when it comes to language acquisition!

SPANISH & WRITING

  • Keep a Spanish journal!
    • Doodle words you remember in the target language. Write the words or sentences in different colors and with different pens/ pencils/ markers/ paints/ gel pens/ etc. each day.
    • Tell the weather: hace sol (it’s sunny); hace mucho calor (it’s hot); está nublado (it’s cloudy); está lloviendo (it’s raining). Temperatures in Spanish-speaking countries are often in Celsius (use an online converter to see what 98*F equals!).

SPANISH & DANCE/MUSIC

SPANISH & MATH

  • Cut out different currencies (money from other countries), and compare and contrast. Use a currency converter to see how much it would be worth in US dollars.
    • Make your own business! Decide what you will sell, and for how much (in pesos, euros, etc.). Display the items you create, build, or cook in a decorative way, so that your family will want to “buy” them.
    • Make a cash box and organize all of the money by country and by amount.
  • Learn to count to 20 in Spanish with this video.
  • Learn to count to 100 in Spanish with this video.

SPANISH & GEOGRAPHY

  • Look for names of Spanish-speaking countries on tags and labels of items around your house and at the store. Can you fill in the rest of the chart below?
    • Spanish-Speaking CountriesChile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain/España, Equatorial Guinea.
    • Older students can read this Imports & Exports post to think about the journey of a product and how it got to you.
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SPANISH & NATIVE SPEAKERS

  • If you are a heritage or native speaker
    • Watch movies in Spanish and add the Spanish subtitles– it can be interesting to compare the translations, which are oftentimes done in different countries. For example, you might hear, “¿Cómo estás?” but read, “¿Qué tal?“. You can even guess the country with some vocabulary and phrases.
    • Keep a Spanish journal and write a paragraph or two about what you remember the most from each day.
    • Make a “NO ENGLISH” rule at home with your family. Anyone who breaks the rule (intentionally or inadvertently) has to put a penny (or dollar?!) in a communal jar, or do everyone else’s chores for the next 24 hours. Make it a game!

SPANISH & SUMMER CAMPS

  • Read this post about Summer Language Camps.
  • Or, alternatively, turn a section of your home into a Spanish-speaking country!
    • Choose a Spanish-speaking country.
    • Research, print out, and hang up colored images of your country’s flag, plus famous places, animals, and foods from there. Ask to paint a tiny flag of your country on your hand or cheek!
    • Label five items in your room with bilingual (Spanish & English) signs–you can use WordReference or Google Translate.
    • Make it fun! Last year, we built a rainforest in Costa Rica in my classroom, complete with jungle sounds playing on an iPad in the background. This year, we built the Alhambra fort in Spain out of cardboard we had painted red. Add music, food, different currencies, and more- see other categories for more ideas!

Spanish is more than a class; it is a journey, and I cannot emphasize this enough. While the destination–fluency–is ultimately our telos, or end goal, the journey is equally important, and we want this journey to be filled to the brim with experiences and memories, so that language has meaning embedded in the words. Because that is the point, right?!

That said, it is important to recognize that when hiking (~our language-learning metaphor), there is value in both moving and standing still: sometimes you need to keep moving–and learning–filling up your tank with new experiences and new information; other times, you need to stop, pause, and be still while the world keeps moving. And sometimes, you meant or wanted to keep hiking, but didn’t get to it. That is okay!

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Sometimes the world seems crazy. Sometimes our plans go awry. But a friend recently reminded me that through it all, we are responsible for how we respond: we can always choose joy. Whether ‘moving or standing still’ on your metaphorical hike, focus on what you love and make joy a priority this summer. It is time for a much needed respite now, but I also can’t wait to see you again in the fall! Have fun and be well.

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist


Happy Summer!

Siempre hace sol / cuando hablas español” (it’s always sunny when you speak Spanish).

Holiday Packet 2020

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and much merriment. Hopefully, amidst the frantic shoppers and bumper-to-bumper traffic, you are able to relax and find some peace and joy in the season.

That said, learning does not stop or stagnate just because there are no classes; we learn constantly throughout our lives, and these breaks remind us that education takes many forms. While vacations are definitely for relaxing and spending time with loved ones, 20,160 minutes [two weeks] is a long time without a language, and parents frequently ask me what they can do at home to supplement their child’s language study. With that in mind, I have curated a list of cultural and linguistic activities that you and your children are welcome to explore over the break. Feel free to pick and choose what works for you and your family, but know that all of these activities are 100% optional.

CULTURE: Holiday Traditions from Spanish-Speaking Countries to Try

1) Cuba: For New Year’s, many Cubans mop their houses from top to bottom, and fill up a bucket with the dirty water. Next, they dump this water in the street, as a symbolic gesture to “throw away” all of the bad stuff from this past year and begin anew. Later, they walk around the block with a suitcase, waving goodbye to their neighbors. This is meant to ensure a trip abroad in the coming months. A staple Cuban event is the pig roast (click on the link, if you dare), but they also will eat black beans and rice, plantains, and buñuelos for dessert for the Christmas Eve meal. A pig roast takes a long time, but the water-dumping and suitcase jaunt seem manageable!

2) Venezuela: “For locals in the capital of Caracas, it is customary to strap on your roller skates and glide to Christmas mass. As legend has it, children go to bed with a piece of string tied round their toe and the other end dangling out of the window. As skaters roll past, they give the string a tug and children know that it’s time to, well, get their skates on” (source). The streets are actually blockaded off each year so that families can roller-skate to Midnight Mass safely. People say this began as an alternative to sledding, since Venezuela is right on the equator and therefore quite warm in December. While I would not recommend roller-skating in the middle of the street in this country, you could go to a rink to skate!

3) SpainEat twelve grapes at midnight on December 31, to welcome in the New Year and for good luck for each month of the coming year. People also wear red clothing (and underwear!) for extra good luck. There is also a highly anticipated, three-hour long Christmas Lottery called, “El Gordo” that Spaniards watch on television December 22nd. Children from the San Ildefonso School practice all year long to announce the winning numbers in song. THIS is what it looks like. (Note: The grape-eating tradition has been adopted in many other Spanish-speaking countries as well, and not just Spain.)

4) Mexico: “Families begin the nine-day observance of las posadas by reenacting the Holy Family’s nine-day journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter in a posada, or inn. In some parts of Mexico, for the first eight evenings of las posadas two costumed children carry small statues of Mary and Joseph as they lead a candlelight procession of friends and neighbors from house to house. They sing a song asking for shelter for the weary travelers. When at last they find a family that will give shelter, the children say a prayer of thanks and place the figures of Mary and Joseph in the family’s nacimiento. Then everyone enjoys a feast at the home of one of the participants.

For the children, the piñata party on the first eight evenings is the best part of las posadas. The blindfolded children are spun around and given a big stick. They take turns trying to break open the piñata with the stick while the piñata is raised and lowered. Everybody scrambles for the gifts and treats when the piñata shatters and spills its treasure” (source). Here, you could act out las posadas and make or buy a piñata.

Oaxaca, Mexico also hosts a very unique radish-carving festival called, “Noche de los Rábanos” (Night of the Radishes) every December. The radish carvings are extremely detailed, intricate sculptures–see pics HERE and HERE–which wilt quickly; timing here is everything. See if you can carve a miniature radish sculpture at home with your parents.

5) Guatemala: Here, “Guatemalans use colored sawdust to construct their nativity sets, and create characters with indigenous features to represent their ancestors” (source). While these nativity scenes are very beautiful, perhaps even more impressive are the sawdust carpets Guatemalans create for Holy Week (Easter). Check out a few pictures HERE to learn more and read about the 6,600 foot long sawdust carpet–a world record. It might be fun to create a miniature sawdust carpet model, but using colored sand and a stencil outline instead. Take a picture so that it lasts forever!

People in many Latin American countries also prepare Christmas tamales, although the recipes differ from place to place and culture to culture (e.g., Mexicans tend to wrap them in corn husks and Guatemalans in banana leaves).

LANGUAGE: Spanish Language Activities

1) Watch a movie in the target language, with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles. If you have not seen Coco or Ferdinand, now would be a great time, but any movie works! NOTE: you are welcome to change the voiceover AND subtitles to Spanish, but quite often, the translations are done in different countries: what you are hearing is not what you are reading. This can be confusing for a beginner; it is more important right now for students to listen to the language: input, input, input! If your family does not want to watch the movie in Spanish with you, ask to invite some friends over. ¡Fiesta!

2) Find a Spanish radio station on your car radio and listen to it either driving around town or on a long road trip. Dance along to the songs and try to pick out a few words you know!

3) Schedule a family night out at a local Mexican/Cuban/Venezuelan/ Spanish-speaking restaurant. Then, either order in Spanish (if you already know how), or ask the waiter a few questions and learn how! Most people are more than willing to share their linguistic knowledge. Be courageous and try something new you have not had before. If you go to multiple restaurants, make a photo slideshow of Food from Different Countries!

4) Prepare a traditional recipe with your family from a Spanish-speaking country. Make it interesting and try something new that you have never had before. Tortilla EspañolaBocadilloChurrosFlanDulce de leche? Tamales? Guacamole? Patacones? Tres leches cake? Gallo pinto? Horchata? Enjoy the process of searching for a recipe (appetizer? drink? main course? dessert?), buying ingredients you may have never heard of before, and then preparing it as a family. There tends to be a big focus on family and community in Latin American households, so make sure that everyone helps out. The more, the merrier!

5) Not traveling this vacation? Plan an imaginary trip to a Spanish-speaking country. Pretend you have $10,000. But wait! Other countries do not all use the dollar. Google what type of money your country has. HERE is a currency converter to play around with. Then, decide where you want to go in said country. If you type in the search bar, “points of interest Spain” [or the country you are interested in], you will get photos and names of landmarks, palaces, monuments, beaches, etc. that may be of interest.

6) Find a Spanish language-learning app that you like, and then level-up three levels to complete this challenge. Grades 3&4 have been working on Duolingo this year, so they are welcome to ‘level up’, or explore another app for fun. Here are a few suggestions: MindSnacksDuolingoMemriseFluentUand/or Epic. Or play the Guess the Language game and see if you can beat your score. Please note that the latter is highly addictive!

7) It is very common in many part of Mexico to eat, well, bugs. Really! From worms and creamy winged-ant salsas to stink bugs, chapulines, and 88 species of beetles, “Mexico is the country with the greatest variety of edible insects: 549 species, according to the 2013 report Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” To test your courage, visit the Candy Store locally (ask me where!) and buy a few fried crickets, or try Amazon. There are even fun flavors to whet your appetite, such as: Bacon & Cheese, Salt & Vinegar, and Sour Cream & Onion.

8) Start looking for fruits, vegetables, boxes, cans, clothing, etc. that come from Spanish-speaking countries, and try to collect stickers and/or clothing tags from all 21 countries (e.g., clothes “Made in Guatemala”, bananas from Costa Rica, avocados from Mexico; that is, imports/exports). This was a Spanish Challenge, but many Lower School children (grades 2-4) can already name a majority of the Spanish-speaking countries**, and are encouraged to keep their eyes open.

**Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic (La República Dominicana), Puerto Rico (technically a territory), Spain (España), and Equatorial Guinea.

You’ve read this far and still want more? First, thank you for taking the time to read it; it is greatly appreciated. Second, feel free to check out my Summer Packet 2017 and Summer Packet 2016 for more ideas. For any fellow linguists, the Articles drop-down menu and corresponding pages have enough links to last a lifetime. In between your Google Rabbit Hole/Alice in Wonderland virtual searching, enjoy the time off, “sprinkle kindness like confetti“, and have a magical and very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays. See you in 2021!

Fondly,
-Your Resident Linguist

Summer Packet 2020

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

This year’s summer packet for Spanish is a list of 50 ideasboth online and offline–that you are welcome to reference when your child invariably complains, “I’m bored!” during the summer months. Have them choose their favorite number (or use the Random Number Generator LINK –> input a range of 1-50), and then do the corresponding activity on the list.

Continue reading “Summer Packet 2020”

Summer Language Camps

I am sure that some of you are already making summer plans. How time flies! With that in mind, for parents and/or students seeking a fun and educational language camp over the summer, I highly recommend Concordia Language Villages.

Languages offered include Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish for pretty much every age, but there are also family camps as well as adult programs. While the prices are on the higher end, the program is highly renowned, 100% cultural and linguistic immersion, and well worth the cost. There are also scholarships available and virtual village experiences (TBD). Please visit their site for more information.

Concordia Language Villages


I have also just learned about another program, but it is only for 11-year-olds. This camp seems to focus more on building global friendships, and has students from many different countries from around the world. Check it out HERE if you are interested. Thanks and happy language learning!

Summer Packet 2019

My Dear Friends, Fellow Linguists, and Citizens of the World:

WE LIVE in a World of Words, where every conversation, every interaction, everything we read and hear is, ultimately, a story of our lives.

Some are stories of heartbreak, others of adventure, wonder, or joy; some are apathetic, others filled with purpose and intention. Our stories change course frequently, and expand from the microcosm of our personal selves and family histories, to the stories of our world. Our identities emerge from the stories we tell ourselves and hear, and the words we use frame these stories, to create the essence of who we are, as individuals and as a human race. Our stories have a past, present, and future. Whether or not we realize it, we are all storytellers—because in the end, our lives come alive in and through language.

With all of this in mind, and instead of sending home worksheets or grammar packets this summer, I have compiled a list of ideas to weave the Spanish language and culture into your own personal story. I want you to make your story powerful, adventurous, and loving, but most of all, to make it yours, and remember who is telling it. If you are bored with your day, your story, then change it. The world is your oyster! We must remember that we are the superheroes of our own narratives. As the saying goes, “When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, ‘Plot twist!’ and move on”. Move on to a new chapter, a better story…

Below, please pick and choose what fits in your story. Some ideas might resonate, and others might not. As always, though, know that every activity outlined below is 100% optional. Each one is meant to enhance your own story.

1) For a GLOWING story: Try a Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour. Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon caused by algae that makes the water light up when touched (or “disturbed”). A land example of this would be the light emitted by fireflies. While lightning bugs are found around the world, “water” bioluminescence is much more scarce. It is famously found in Puerto Rico (Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay, on the Island of Vieques), but can be seen in other places as well, especially when there is little to no moonlight. Check out this video HERE if you have never seen it before–and let me know if you take the tour!

2) For a MUSICAL story: Let’s continue jazzing up your summer story by adding some new music. For starters, visit the link below* for pop songs translated/ adapted from English to Spanish. Visit this page for more songs in Spanish, and here for songs in languages that are not English. Also, if you have any translation requests or song suggestions (clean lyrics only), please let me know.

A few favorites:
Sounds European – pop music by country, updated daily!
Pop Songs Playlist* –  songs translated/adapted from English to Spanish
Señor Wooly – please contact me if you do not have an account

MoanaFrozen- 25 languages & Frozen- SpanishWreck-It RalphHoy es domingoThis Is MeHigh HopesMadre tierraSpain’s National AnthemLa lista/AldreyVivir mi vidaNo tengo dineroCall Me MaybePerfect/Ed SheeranLa vida es un carnaval (Salsa), Cielito lindo/Canta, no llores

3) For a MESSY story: There is a special montaña/mountain in Peru called Vinicunca, or Rainbow Mountain, located near Machu Picchu. The mountain has a unique mineral composition that makes the range appear like the inside of a jawbreaker! For this project, the goal is to make a piece of artwork to represent Vinicunca, using THIS amazing video as a guide. If you have a lot of paint lying around in the garage, put down a big tarp on the floor and start pouring! Make sure to ask your parents before you start this very messy project. And if you end up covered in paint with a product that did not turn out exactly as you planned, do not despair: at least you got a good story out of it!

4) For a FAMILY story: Ask your parents if they have ever traveled to another country. If they have, see if you can find tickets, receipts, foreign currency*, brochures, postcards, magnets, or anything else from their trip. If it was a long time ago, this might turn into a TREASURE HUNT type of story! After you collect a few souvenirs, either decorate or buy a small decorative box to put them inside. Ask your parents to tell you stories about their adventures overseas. If your parents have NOT traveled, use the same decorative box as a “Vision Board”, where you put names and photos of places you would like to travel to inside.

*ASIDE: I never know what to do with foreign coins–and after 13 or 14 countries, I have collected quite a few! To get cash for your change, check out THIS link. Or, read THIS ARTICLE for a few more ideas.

5) For a HISTORICAL story: Visit the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa to explore their exhibit on the Spanish-American War and Its Tampa Connection. It will be around until February of 2027, so do not worry if you can’t get there right away!

6) For a DELICIOUS story: Try visually documenting a Food Tour of at least FIVE Spanish-speaking restaurants. In other words, visit a Cuban restaurant one day, have a meal, and take a picture of your plate. Next, visit a Venezuelan restaurant, have a meal, and take a picture of your plate. Next, visit a Mexican restaurant, have a meal, and take a picture of your plate. Do this five times. Try a food, drink, or dessert you haven’t tried before at each place, and make sure to write down what it is called (in case you really like it and want to order it again someday!). Any authentic restaurants (no Taco Bell!) from the 21 Spanish-speaking countries are game here. Have fun!

7) For a DIGITAL story: Change all of your devices to Spanish (go to Settings –> General –> Language and Region –> Spanish)… and keep it that way for as long as you can. How long can you last? An hour? A day? A week? A month? All summer? If you are feeling especially motivated, sign up for (or continue working on, if you are in Summit) Duolingo or Memrise, and see how many days in a row you can keep up with it. The first day or two is easy, but after that, you might be tempted to quit. Remember, consistency is key when learning a language; the more frequently you keep at it, the stronger and smarter your brain will get! Make it a game, choose a goal, and then reward yourself with a prize when you stick with it for five or more days in a row, or three times a week, etc.

8) For a TRAVEL story: Check out Universal Yums!, where you order snacks from a different country every month. The fun part is, you never know where they are coming from next, or what you will get in a box–every country has its own ideas about what are tasty snacks! Please note that this website includes countries from all around the world (and not only Spanish-speaking cultures).

9) For an ARTISTIC story: Take a field trip with your family and explore the Salvador Dalí Museum, and then try to recreate some of his works yourself. See how creative you can get!

10) For a DIFFERENT story: Take a break and consider someone else’s story. Choose from this list of Spanish Movies for Kids, with G and PG rated titles and a blogger’s commentary on the films.

For more linguistic-oriented activities, check out THIS LINK. And if you are interested in my story, please read THIS POST. Have fun, be safe, and see you in August! I wish you happiness wherever your story takes you.

Fondly,

-Your Resident Linguist

Summer Packet 2017

*Update: For photos of my Camino adventures, visit THIS PAGE.

My Dearest Friends:

As most of you know, I will not be returning next year. I have loved teaching here, but I also love learning and traveling and exploring, and need to go see the world. That said, I care deeply for each and every one of your children, and would like to leave a final Spanish Summer Packet Challenge that parallels the first part of this new chapter of my life.

My adventures will begin in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port (France), where I will start walking El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). El Camino is a 500 mile walk or pilgrimage across northern Spain that begins by crossing the Pyrenees Mountains (France/Spain border). It typically takes pilgrims thirty days to complete the walk on foot and arrive in Santiago de Compostela, España. To that end, students will have the opportunity to walk “with me” over the summer by completing specific challenges that correspond to mileage and geographic locations. (Pato will obviously be coming along—but primarily for the food and to post selfies on Instagram.)

camino

1) Preparation: It is strongly recommended for anyone walking to have a special passport book specific to the Camino. The albergues (hostels for pilgrims) stamp your book each night so that you have a personalized record of where you stayed; it is also a nice memento, as every stamp is unique. Your first challenge, then, is to create a small passport booklet with five or ten pages to keep track of where you travel this summer. After you visit a place—local or overseas—design a miniature sticker/stamp/little picture to represent that place, and copy it into your passport booklet. If you are going to travel out of state, make one per state or country. If you are staying put, make one for each town you visit!

2) Preparation: Imagine that you are going on this walk for real: what would you pack? There are restaurants and stores along the way, so you do not need to carry much food, but water is a necessity during the hot summer months in Spain, and you must fit everything you need into a single backpack. Make a list and then… get packing! Encourage your family and/or friends to participate, and to complete this challenge, go on an actual hike with your bag and a friend. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

3) Week 1 (Crossing the Pyrenees Mountains from France into Spain): Play this Language Game online at least three times. Here you will learn to recognize the world’s languages, one language at a time. Around 8,000 people walk El Camino during July, so I will be surrounded by many, many languages. This challenge is meant to mimic jumping into this incomprehensible but delightful swirl of linguistic happiness. High scores do not matter here; just have fun guessing!

4) Week 1: Pamplona, Spain is perhaps most famous for its celebration of San Fermín and the annual Running of the Bulls. This tradition, although a huge part of Spanish culture, is highly controversial. This challenge asks you to read a Wikipedia or Scholastic article and watch a short YouTube video about the Running of the Bullsand thendebate the topic with your family with Paso Doble music playing in the background. Do you see the nobility of the beast and the elegance of the bullfight, or do you see animal cruelty? Whatever your stance, start a conversation and try to understand both perspectives.

5) Week 2: An exciting part of traveling is getting to see and try different types of foods. What is “normal” to you is “strange” to others, and vice-versa. In Spain, tapas—also called pinchos when pierced with toothpicks—are found in many restaurants. They are snacks arranged in small dishes, and have an interesting history: a long time ago, many people were illiterate, so travelers going from one inn to the next could not read the menus; instead, they were given little plates to sample different types of food before ordering their meal. This challenge is to pretend you are in Spain and recreate tapas in your own kitchen. There are countless options, so find a few that you like, and have a little fiesta, or party. Some ideas include mixed olives and cheese; skewers with pickles; fried baby squid; mushrooms sautéed in garlic and oil, etc.—see more options HERE. Enjoy!

6) Week 2: The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino, and represents the many paths pilgrims travel to reach one destination, namely, Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims attach a scallop to their backpacks, and follow the shell symbol on the Camino to stay on the right path. While I do not care where you purchase your petrol, I like seeing the Shell gas station signs around town, and pretend that when I see one, I know I am on the right road. This challenge asks you to go to the beach and see if you can find a scallop shell. If this is not an option, Bed Bath & Beyond (among other stores) also sells them!

7) Week 3: Typical walking hours for the Camino are usually 5am-1pm (due to the extreme summer heat). After that, pilgrims find a place to stay for the night, eat together, and rest their tired, blistered feet. Many people take a book along with them to read in the afternoons and later exchange with other pilgrims. Don Quijote de la Mancha is the main character in a very famous, very old, 900-page novel that takes place in Spain. While the literary masterpiece is probably too heavy to carry in book form, and the language the Spanish equivalent of Elizabethan English, it is world-renowned and well worth learning about. This challenge is to watch three chapters about Don Quijote on YouTube. What is your “impawssible” dream? “One day or Day One?”

a. Wishbone, The Impawssible Dream, Part I
b. Wishbone, The Impawssible Dream, Part II
c. Wishbone, The Impawssible Dream, Part III

8) Week 3: Did you think you were going to be able to survive only on tapas for 500 miles? Think again! This challenge is to cook a more complete meal: either una tortilla española or un bocadillo. The tortilla española is similar to an omelet, but much thicker and a very hearty breakfast. A bocadillo is an inexpensive and simple but delicious sandwich—I like to add pickles on mine! Note that “boca” means mouth in Spanish. If have some time on your hands and are interested in dessert, flan and churros (dipped in chocolate or dulce de leche) are also eaten in Spain. Yum!

a. Tortilla Española
b. Bocadillo
c. Churros*
d. Flan
e. Dulce de leche

*“History is divided on how exactly churros came to exist. Some say they were the invention of nomadic Spanish shepherds. Living high in the mountains with no access to bakeries, the Spanish shepherds supposedly created churros, which were easy for them to cook in frying pans over fire. Lending credibility to this version of history is the fact that there exists a breed of sheep called the ‘Navajo-Churro’, which are descended from the ‘Churra’ sheep of the Iberian Peninsula; the horns of these sheep look similar to the fried pastry.

Another story says that Portuguese sailors discovered a similar food in Northern China called ‘Yóu Tiáo’ and they brought it back with them. The Spanish learned of the new culinary treat from their neighbors, and put their own spin on it by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip which gives the churro its signature ridges.” (source).

9) Week 4: There are lush, rolling forests of Eucalyptus trees near the end of the Camino to welcome you into the final city of Santiago de Compostela. It is said that “the popular Spanish name for the astronomical Milky Way is El Camino de Santiago. According to a common medieval legend, the Milky Way was formed from the dust raised by traveling pilgrims” (Wikipedia). It makes perfect sense, then, that “Compostela” would mean field of stars. Two of my friends who walked the Camino last year told me that the smell of Eucalyptus is incredibly strong here. This challenge is to find Eucalyptus oil at a store and take a whiff of one of the samplers. Now imagine that scent times five million, and that is probably what I am smelling right now.  

10) Week 4: There are hours upon hours to talk to people on the Camino, but when you get tired of that, many play music to pass the time. In northern Spain, five languages are spoken, namely, Spanish, Galician, Basque (Euskara), Aranès, and Catalan. For me, listening to languages I do not understand acts as a “brain break” and feels refreshing somehow; it helps to clear my mind. This challenge is to listen to a few of the songs below, and think about what makes you happy. Then, do something nice for a family member or friend—in other words, make someone else happy! If they want to ‘repay’ you with a gift, tell them to pay it forward. Regardless of the language you speak, always remember: “Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see” (Mark Twain).

a. Flamenco, Zapatos de baile (Spanish)
b. Aldapan gora, Huntza Band (Euskara)
c. Boig Per Tu, Shakira (Catalan)
d. Galician Folk Music (Galician)
e. Renata Flores Rivera (Quechua**)
f. Vivir mi vida, Marc Anthony (Spanish)

**Quechua is an indigenous language spoken in the Andes Mountains and highlands of South America (and NOT Spain), but this young girl with a powerful voice is revitalizing her mother tongue through music; read the full story HERE.

My hope is that this Spanish Summer Packet reinforces the fact that language-learning is a journey. Do not be overly concerned with arriving, or that magical destination called Fluency. With hard work and passion, you will get there, I promise. Just never ever give up, ever! And in the meantime, revel in the magic of the present moment: enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures along the way… and “hashtag happiness” wherever you go (#happiness). We are all on this journey together, and I am grateful to have met each and every one of you. Be well, have a wonderful summer, fall, winter, spring, and life—and please keep in touch!  

Peace, love, and hugs,
-Your Resident Linguist ❤

IMAGE CREDIT, @Trevor Huxham

Summer Packet 2016

To My Fellow Linguists and Citizens of the World:

Learning a language is a beast of a project to undertake. In addition to reading, writing, speaking, and listening—with countless vocabularies, dialects, and accents to untangle—you also have cultural layers and sublayers to sort through. It takes time and patience, and a willingness to understand that learning a language does not happen overnight. You must surround yourself with the language and culture every day, keep your study at the forefront of your mind, and use those blips of nothingness while waiting in line to try and recall what you last studied. An impossible task? No. Challenging, yes—but impossible, never! *For inspiration, read Why I Taught Myself 20 Languages, by Timothy Doner.

In metaphorical terms, then, you must slay the dragon. This summer, Lower School students are encouraged to keep their language study alive by ‘slaying the dragon’. Below you will find a series of language-related challenges. Upon completing each challenge, students may color in a section of the dragon. The dragon is slayed when all sections are colored in. Please hang the dragon picture in a visible or high-traffic area of your household, to remind students to continue their study. The challenge commences on the first day of summer, so if students have already done something on the list, they are asked to do it again.

1) Watch a movie in the target language, with Spanish voiceover and English subtitles. Note: you are welcome to change both to Spanish, but quite often, the translations are done in different countries: what you are hearing is not what you are reading. This can be incredibly confusing and frustrating for a beginner; it is more important right now for students to listen to the language: input, input, input! If your family does not want to watch the movie in Spanish with you, ask to invite some friends over. ¡Fiesta!

2) Label ten things in your house in Spanish. Use WordReference or Google Translate to look up the correct spelling. Make sure to include the “el” or “la” word–for example, la mesa/the table. Listen to the pronunciation so you know how to say it!

3) Prepare a traditional recipe with your family from a Spanish-speaking country. Make it interesting and try something new that you have never had before. Guacamole? Patacones? Tres leches cake? Gallo pinto? Horchata? Churros? Enjoy the process of searching for a recipe (appetizer? drink? main course? dessert?), buying ingredients you may have never heard of before, and then preparing it as a family. There tends to be a big focus on family and community in Latin American households, so make sure that everyone helps out. The more, the merrier!

4) Find a Spanish language-learning app that you like, and then level-up three levels to complete this challenge. Here are a few suggestions for apps: DuolingoMemriseFluentU, and/or MindSnacks.

5) Ask to schedule a family night out at a local Mexican/Cuban/Spanish-speaking restaurant. Then, either order in Spanish (if you already know how), or ask the waiter a few questions and learn how! Most people are more than willing to share their linguistic knowledge. To complete this challenge, take a picture of the food you ordered. (Note: there is no way for me to know with 100% certainty that you actually ordered in Spanish, so I am trusting you to be honest with yourself on this one.)

6) #10daychallenge: practice counting backwards or skip counting in Spanish whenever you brush your teeth for ten days in a row. Do NOT count aloud, or else you will spit out the toothpaste foam and get in trouble for making a big mess! Instead, count in your head—cero, dos, cuatro, seis, ocho, diez, doce; uno, tres, cinco, siete, nueve, once. If you don’t know the numbers very well, ask your parents to help you look them up on the computer so you know how they are spelled and pronounced. The point is to challenge yourself, so if 0-10 is too easy, work on something a bit more difficult. (100-200-300-400-500, etc.)

7) Go with your parents when they run errands or go shopping, and look for signs in English and Spanish. When you see one, write it down or ask your parents to take a picture of the sign with their phone. Find five signs, and you get to color in another section of the dragon! If you are not sure where to start, everything from the plumbing section to the magazine rack at Lowe’s is labeled in English and Spanish. The doors to—and other directional signs throughout—J.C. Penney’s at the mall are bilingual. Caution signs for wet floors are often in multiple languages. Airports have a million signs. Keep your eyes open!!

8) Listen to a Spanish radio station (87.7 FM) or podcast for twenty minutes and write down five words you understand. Don’t stop listening when you get to five words—you have to listen for the whole twenty minutes! Keep in mind that this could be five minutes a day for four days; it does not have to be all at once. What does Spanish sound like to you? Rap music? Raindrops?

9) Visit your local library and/or bookstore, and ask where the children’s foreign language section is located. Spend at least ten minutes flipping through the books and trying to find words you know—be a word detective! The local library has a huge Spanish section. Half-Price Books also has decent collections, but they are mixed in with other languages, so you really have to pay attention to know what language you are looking at. Tip: look at the copyright page to find out where the book was published, and then ask your parents what country that city is in. If it’s a Spanish-speaking country, the book is probably written in Spanish.

10) Make miniature weather signs in Spanish (with pictures!), and be a meteorologist: post the appropriate weather sign on the window every day for a week. See AccuWeather in Spanish for vocabulary, or use the guide below:

a. Hace sol: it’s sunny (“ahh-say soul”)
b. Está despejado: it’s clear (“es-TAH dehs-pay-HAH-doe”)
c. Llueve: it’s raining (“you-A-bay”)
d. Está nublado: it’s cloudy (“es-TAH new-BLAH-doe”)

Now hang this on your refrigerator or bookmark it on your computer before it gets lost. Your support and enthusiasm for the foreign language program are greatly appreciated. Have a wonderful summer, and be happy.

Gracias,

-Your Resident Linguist ❤