I am writing this unit plan in response to a sense of alienation I perceive on the part of AfricanAmerican students towards learning Spanish as a foreign language. Many of these students do not feel motivated by their classes and do not continue past the beginning level or simply do not engage in the study of Spanish at all. By creating a unit that addresses the African influence in Latin American writing and culture, I hope to convince more students of African descent that the study of Spanish is pertinent to their lives. To this end, my unit will focus on Langston Hughes and Nicolás Guillén, two African-American poets, one familiar and one foreign, who forged a friendship across languages, cultures and countries.
This unit is designed for Spanish students in eighth through twelfth grades that are either learning Spanish as a foreign language or are native speakers of the language. It can be adapted to any level of language acquisition, but would probably be better for the student who has had at least a year of Spanish previously. I envision this as an African History month unit that could culminate in student performances at a school-wide assembly or for other classes or grades. There are innumerable performance-oriented ways students could show what they have learned in this unit, from reciting their own poetry to demonstrating music with the instruments they have made.
I have divided this unit into six sections that each contain a narrative so that the teacher has enough background to teach the concepts without having to do any extra research. Each section also includes student objectives. You will find three sample lesson plans at the end of the narrative with suggestions of extension activities that could involve teachers from other subject areas, especially Music and History, or Social Studies.