i think in Spanish
i write in English
tengo las venas aculturadas
escribo en spanglish
-Tato Laviera, (1)
the reality for many Latinos in the United States. They are straddling two cultures, two worlds, and are uncertain they fit in one or the other. Lots of them speak
, a hybrid language made up from Spanish by introducing English terms, syntax or even phonetic translations. They are trying to fit in a society that does not completely accept them because they are somehow different. They are trying to decide who they are.
The present unit,
Voces Latinas: Cultural Identity through Poetry and Lyrics
, is going to deal with abstract notions right from the very beginning. The title itself may present certain difficulties. Terms like "voice" or "cultural identity" have to be scrutinized in order to be understood properly.
The term "voice" is used everywhere and yet it is not easy to describe accurately. This is because it carries many different connotations. Voice is related to the experience of the artist, and also to the way this artist wants to convey a message, point of view, or ideology. Since this unit is dealing with literature, let's be more specific and talk about literary voice. Literary voice allows these authors to use a particular style, tone and a specific language. These abstract and concrete elements define the writer and make his/her voice personal, distinctive and unique. Using voice to express convictions and one's personal ideology in society makes artists (Latino and other minority artists in the United States) to a new dimension: they become political figures and the custodians of the cultural identity they fight to preserve.
This unit seeks to focus on voices, oral experience and listening skills. I want my students to reflect on the importance of expressing one´s opinion. I have found that sometimes, when dealing with certain topics, they are not so used to articulate a personal judgment, they rather repeat someone else´s words. One of the key goals to look for is to encourage students to voice their own points of view, something that will improve their critical thinking skills as well as their fluency in Spanish.
As a high school Spanish teacher, I always work on including aspects of diverse cultural groups in my lessons about peoples from around the world, because I believe my students should be raised to understand and appreciate the highly diverse society that we all live in. I tend to emphasize cultural components of countries of the Hispanic world so students reach a better understanding of the second language they are studying.
I intend to implement in this unit the "5Cs" of the National Standards of Foreign Language Learning-Cultures, Connections (among disciplines), Comparisons (between cultures), Communication, and Communities.
The unit will be used in Hill Regional Career High School (Career for short). Career is an urban magnet school for students interested in health sciences, business, and technology. Finding new ways to motivate my students while learning a foreign language is a challenge I come across on a daily basis.
Voces Latinas: Cultural Identity through Poetry and Lyrics
will allow me to achieve a variety of different goals. It will give me the opportunity to introduce literature, and the concept of cultural identity in the classroom. My students have not been exposed to many different cultures and sometimes it is difficult for them to interpret and even understand other perspectives, points of view, or behaviors. Most of them do not enjoy reading and some refuse to do so when asked. By teaching the students to analyze, interpret and understand poems (and songs), I will provide them with the tools to value and enjoy poetry; to acknowledge the relevance of the Latinos in the United States and also the opportunity to learn Spanish while they take in the importance of history and cultural connections.
I would also like to teach my students to be able to identify many of the false stereotypes about different Latino groups in this country. These circulate and spread easily and students tend to believe them without questioning them. Students are not used to thinking critically and therefore many times they tend to believe some pieces of information that are not necessarily truth. As teenagers they are used to label everything and I would like to help them to understand there are things that do not fall in only one category.
This unit is designed to be taught in my Spanish I classes, which are "novice level," according to the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL.) Although the unit has been planned with my students in mind, it could be used on upper level courses with proper modifications. Students at this level demonstrate some accuracy in oral and written presentations when reproducing memorized words, phrases and sentences in the target language; formulate oral and written presentations using a limited range of simple phrases and expressions based in very familiar topics; show inaccuracies and/or interference from the native language when attempting to communicate information which goes beyond the memorized or pre-fabricated. (2)
The classes and the majority of the activities will be held in Spanish whenever possible, although English will also be used. Spanish speaking students in the classroom will get more advanced, modified material and will be asked to read poems more deeply.
The material is designed to be covered within a period of 15-20 sessions, which are eighty two minutes in length. The average class size will be between 15 and 20 students, which is a perfect number for some of the "group classroom" activities I want the students to work on. The unit will be taught during the third and fourth marking periods.
Voces Latinas: Cultural Identity through Poetry and Lyrics´
main goal is to teach voice and identity through Latino poetry and music, the first step is to help students recognize how Latino and Latina writers depict tradition, beliefs and heritage in their writings as part of their identity, how they reflect on their cultural identity and how they express their feelings about living in two cultures. We will begin by defining these concepts, as well as the one of literary voice, and identifying all these in poetry.