"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand."
- Chinese Proverb
HOW TO PLAN A SPANISH IMMERSION DAY
"íCarcelero!" "íCarcelero!" can be heard throughout the halls early on a Saturday morning in March at my high school as one hundred twenty-five high school Spanish students, several area veteran and pre-service teachers, and other student volunteers participate in our annual Spanish Immersion Day. Spanish Immersion Day is a huge annual event where students pledge to practice their developing Spanish skills all day as they dance Zumba, play games and participate in interactive activities. If students are caught speaking English, they are taken by the "carcelero" to the Spanish jail where they must suffer a grueling interrogation (i.e. answer conversational questions) in Spanish before they are allowed to rejoin their groups.
Each year, my colleague, Katie Acosta, and I invite area high school students and teachers to come to Immersion Day. We also invite pre-service teachers from nearby universities to come and participate as group leaders. The students register and pay $15, and then we organize them into groups of approximately twenty students each. Each group of students represents a Spanish-speaking country and they learn a cheer from their country so they can celebrate as they move from one activity to another. After students learn their country cheers and meet their group leaders, they "travel" to their first activity. Each year, we plan activities that highlight all of their skill sets.
To practice their vocabulary, the students play a digital version of the
Family Feud. The prize for the winning family is a framed picture of their "family". To practice their speaking skills, the students play a game called "Te toca a ti" where they sit in chairs in a circle and one student says a statement such as "Who plans to study Spanish in college?" and all of the students who are planning to do so must get up and race to a different chair in the circle. The student who is left standing gets to say the next sentence. Teacher presenters change the speaking topic frequently to keep the game interesting and to give students a chance to use varied vocabulary and verb tenses.
Additional activities include a digital bullfight game, "Los Sanfermines", which features an authentic running of the bulls video, pictures to describe, vocabulary definitions, and commands to act out with their teammates. Students are divided into a bulls team and a matadors team. The bulls wear pipe cleaner bull horns while their counterparts wave red cloth muletas in the air during this competition. Another favorite game is "El Juego Loco", which features songs that students listen to and have to guess the titles of while they act out or dance to the songs. Spanish Jeopardy, Karaoke, Charades and Millionaire are also enjoyable learning activities that we have created for this day.
After the students have learned the country cheers, have participated in six different activities and have competed for fun prizes, everyone meets for an authentic lunch in the cafeteria. Students and teachers sit together and play a "Who am I?" famous person guessing game while eating and listening to authentic music. After lunch, each of the six group leaders comes up in front of everyone to congratulate their group on their successes and the grand prize for best speaker from each group is awarded. The students leave Immersion Day with a sense of accomplishment, new friends from other schools, silly prizes, and a folder filled with information about area universities language programs and AP credit policies.
~ Amy Dunaway-Haney