Here is how you can create animated videos like the ones I posted recently on my site. The paid way, and the free way:
1. Go to xtranormal.com and sign up for an account. You can sign up and have a 15 day trial to play with the application.
2. Once you are logged in, you will be given the option to choose your scene, actors, voices (French, Spanish, Italian, etc.).
3. To create the movie, you will be asked to type what you want the characters to say. Then, the program will generate the audio for you.
4. Depending on how fancy you want to make your movie, you can add movements, facial expressions, sound effects, background music, etc.
5. When your trial expires, you will be asked to purchase "Tokens" to be able to create and download your movies. If you want students to create movies, you will need to pay .50 cents per student.
FREE (Well Kept Secret!):
1. Create your Xtranormal.com account
2. Create a Youtube Account. Then, go to youtube.com/create
3. Scroll down to find the Xtranormal app.
4. Begin creating your movie by adding text, actors, scenes, etc.
5. When you are done with your creation, publish it to your Youtube account and Voilà!
Pros and Cons:
1. The paid version has more features, but it costs 10 dollars, plus .50 cents per students.
2. The free version has less actors and scenes, and you have to publish your videos via Youtube.
Tips: Whichever version you choose, remember to save your scrip on a document, in case the rendering fails...It has happened to me once, and it's a bummer after you have created a "masterpiece".
Listen to some of the classic fables that reinforce values. Help your students boost their listening skills and vocabulary. The moralejas
could be used as a springboard to talk about honesty, friendship, loyalty, and hardwork. Click on a fable below and enjoy!La cigarra y la hormigaEl águila, el cuervo y el pastorEl águila y el escarabajoEl águila y la zorraLa zorra y el leñador
Have you ever had to teach Spanish to native Spanish speakers? If you answered yes, then you have probably experienced the need for us to differentiate and teach them spelling rules the old-fashioned way. This year I have three native Spanish-speaking students. They are all fluent in the language, but their writing needs work, especially when using the accent marks. Here is an activity I designed for them, but that your students can also benefit from, especially your native speakers. I created a video and three self-graded activities to practice the three basic rules to help your students decide whether an accent mark is necessary or not.http://www.fluencyprof.com/how-to-use-spanish-accents.html
There is also an activity to help students practice telling time in Spanish. I posted a video and three self-graded activities.http://www.fluencyprof.com/telling-time-in-spanish.html
Your comments to this blog post are welcome, as well as your suggestions for other activities. Enjoy!
I recently added a new comic to the collection of cultural events. Now your students can learn about Columbus Day, while learning Spanish! Click on the link 12 de octubre comic with audio
to check it out! I also added a comic about la Tomatina
, and a comic about el día de los muertos
. I also added text fields to every comic so that your students can take notes and discuss their findings in class, in case you choose to do this activity in a lab setting. This will hopefully save you prep time. Finally, I added interactive translators to the myths and legends sections, so that students can interact more with the vocabulary. Enjoy!
I just added a new activity to the Free Spanish Audio section. With the festivities approaching for the Mexican Independence Day on September 16, I recorded this audio clip featuring a little bit of history and traditions around this holiday. I also recorded another audio about Columbus Day. Enjoy!
I recently added a new activity on the Free Spanish Audio
section that features 501 of the most commonly used Spanish verbs. This is a great activity to challenge your upper-intermediate students. You can choose from three different types of activities to practice this vocabulary set by changing the study mode on the bottom-right corner. You can also listen to each term by clicking on the audio icon on the top-left corner. Have fun!
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that American students commonly believe commemorates the Mexican independence. This is completely understandable since Cinco de Mayo is more celebrated by the Hispanic community in the United States than September 16th, which is the actual anniversary of Mexican independence. It is important to help students understand the difference between these two days.
It is quite interesting to realize that Cinco de Mayo is more largely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico, where the festivities occur mainly in the state of Puebla. According to some sources, this difference can be explained by the fact that the events of the original Cinco de Mayo served as inspiration for the activists in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over the United States, but it continues to be a day in which Chicanos celebrate their rich ethnic heritage.
There are two activities ready to use with your students in the "Free Spanish Audio" section of the website, or you can also select the option that best fits your lesson below. Good luck!
1. Cinco de Mayo Comic with Audio
2. Cinco de Mayo Activity with Script
I recently added a collection of myths and legends to the collection of free Spanish audio for more listening practice. I added some music and voice effects to enhance the experience of listening to a story. Telling and listening to legends and myths is an oral tradition that is kept alive from generation to generation. In fact, I remember growing up in the Yucatan Península and listening to my parents and my grand parents telling me some Mayan legends like the ones featured on this website. My all time favorite is the one about the aluxes, which believe it or not, many locals from the Mayan villages in the Yucatan Peninsula would swear is true.
I will keep this post short, and let you enjoy some of the legends and myths I recently recorded. More will be added soon, so if you have not subscribed yet, do so on the top right corner to stay tuned! If you are ready to enjoy a myth or a legend in Spanish, go to the "Free Spanish Audio
" section and scroll down. Enjoy.
Last year I spent the best 90 dollars I have spent in a while. But before I get into that, I should confess that I have a classroom with an LCD projector, wireless internet, and my own school-provided laptop. As icing on the cake, all of my students have their own laptops, too. Though I enjoy my high-tech classroom, life there is not always easy. Do you remember the old days when we would be irritated if we saw a kid doodling in the middle of a passionately-taught lesson? Now, rather than doodle, many kids with access to their laptops spend class time checking their Facebook accounts, instant messaging each other, watching the latest on Youtube, and the list goes on. It's enough to make the biggest techie give up on the one-laptop-per-kid idea.
Like many teachers, I found myself torn between wanting to put technology to good use and wanting to keep my classroom under control. As I began to analyze the problems I was facing, I realized that my heavy reliance on the LCD projector at the front of the classroom was keeping me physically stuck in one spot. Expert teachers (and any parent of a curious toddler) have long known that there is a direct correlation between physical distance from the authority figure and likelihood that a kid will find some trouble to stir up. In other words, I couldn't use physical proximity to my students as a deterrent to them wandering off into cyberspace because I was stuck to my keyboard hooked to the LCD projector. I knew I had to adapt.
After doing a little research, I discovered that one affordable way to be able to move around was to get a wireless keyboard. Since I did not want to carry a mouse around, I bought one with a trackpad. Wow! Suddenly I was free to move around my classroom. What I typed into the keyboard I held as I stood pretty much anywhere in the room appeared on the screen at the front of the room. I even found myself handing the keyboard to students and asking them to type answers to my questions. Suddently, my students were never quite sure when I'd be close enough to view their screens or require their input and participation. Needless to say, this motivated them to spend less time messing around and more time concentrating on the task at hand. And I have to admit that I rather enjoyed calling on students who were "accidentally" on Facebook rather than the activity I wanted to be practicing!
So, how do you put these principles to work in your classroom, you ask? Well, if your room isn't as decked-out as mine, you can always put into practice the idea of physical proximity. Move around, stay close to your students as you teach and watch them spend more time on task. Always keep in mind that technology implementation needs careful planning. Talk to your technology facilitator to get this idea off the ground, or email me if you have any questions.
I read an interesting chapter from a book about how to teach culture in the foreign language classroom. First of all, what is culture? Is it people? Beliefs? Literature? Music? Food? One of the research quotes that caught my attention came from Galloway (1984, 1985b). He mentions that culture is typically approached in 4 ways, such as:
1. The Frankenstein Approach, where we select random cultural activities.
2. The 4-F Approach, getting its name from Folk dances, Festivals, Fairs, and Food.
3. The Tour Guide Approach, where the emphasis is on monuments, rivers, and cities, and
4. The "By-the-way" Approach, where we use sporadic lectures or bits of behavior selected indiscriminately to emphasize sharp differences.
Regardless of what approach we take, we must keep in mind that culture is an essential part of foreign language instruction, and that it needs to be carefully planned to be incorporated effectively in a lesson. When we teach culture, we help students broaden their views of the world. We help reduce stereotypical misconceptions, and also help them understand their own cultural heritage.
Here are some of the ideas that can help you incorporate culture in the foreign language curriculum:
1. Use readings and realia to enliven a cultural topic.
2. Guide students to compare and contrast the target culture and their own (e.g. using a Venn diagram).
3. Have students develop culture clusters, and follow up with a dramatization or situational role-play.
4. Present students with situations where cultural misinterpretations are shown, and encourage discussion.
5. Develop culture mini-dramas in three to four episodes.
6. Guide students to derive cultural connotations by using word association, semantic mapping activities,
specific situations, and collages.
7. Make use of the artifact study strategy: Bring something from the target culture to class and have students
hypothesize, discuss, analyze, and reflect about the item.
8. Make use of proverbs to show differences in cultural perspectives.
9. Use humor to explore cross-cultural references.
10. Use music, but go beyond the fill-in-the blanks format.
(A very special thanks to Dr. Moeller, for teaching me how to become a better language instructor).