National Foreign Language Week for Spanish Teachers (March 1-7)
Did you know this week is National Foreign Language Week? Let’s learn a bit about the origins of the week and use it to celebrate and motivate our journey of Spanish learning!
A Musing History
National Foreign Language Week was first celebrated in early 1957 by Alpha Mu Gamma (AMG), the first and largest national collegiate foreign language honor society. The name Alpha Mu Gamma is composed of the names of the initial Greek letters found in the phrase “Amphi Mouse Glosson*,” meaning, “For the Muse of Languages.”
Why was National Foreign Language Week Created?
Sister Eloise Therese served as the National President of AMG in the late 1950s. Eloise felt that it was important to establish a week devoted to foreign language study in the United States. So, she inspired her organization, the National Executive Council of AMG, to do just that. And it has taken place annually for the past 62 years! The 63rd annual National Foreign Language Week this year is from March 1-7, 2020.
In December, 1956, President Eisenhower endorsed the NFLW, and each president since has added his official support. Over the years, the Alpha Mu Gamma chapters (which are now spread throughout 40+ states) have organized activities with the intention of raising awareness around the vital necessity for foreign language study among US college students. They have written newspaper articles, produced radio and TV programs, hosted screenings of foreign language films, organized festivals of foreign music and plays, and hosted public lectures. Many universities, colleges, and schools continue to celebrate NFLW today.
Let’s Celebrate! How?
Here are ideas and suggestions on how to observe and celebrate National Foreign Language Month (all of March) and National Foreign Language Week (March 1-7) with your students and family who are learning Spanish:
Get Into la música
- Do karaoke with a catch—everyone has to sing songs in Spanish.
- Organize a group singalong! Here are some good Spanish songs for all ages.
- Listen to Latin music. Look up the lyrics so you can sing along and learn what the song is all about.
- Dance! Salsa, merengue, tango and bachata are just a few of the Latin dance styles out there.
Watch and Listen
- Check out this list of Spanish-language films.
- Invite a bilingual friend over to talk about their travels and adventures studying a foreign language.
- Visit this University of Texas at Austin website for dozens of Spanish proficiency exercises for learners at all levels.
- Listen to Spanish podcasts. Notes in Spanish podcasts are great for intermediate to advanced students. The site enables you to download worksheets associated with each podcast to test your listening comprehension.
- Check out Cool Spanish, an audio collection of Spanish slang words and phrases for different occasions.
- Visit the Spanish Interactive Short Stories page featuring three short stories in Spanish with audio, vocabulary, and interactive practices.
Play Spanish Games
Practice your Spanish and have fun playing the classic game, Pictionary! Gather some white paper, pens and pencils, and a timer. Designate one person as the artist; they will draw a picture of a person, place, or thing while the other players guess what it is—en español, of course! If you have 4 or more people, you can play in teams. You can modify the game to be for beginners by creating cards with basic Spanish verbs, adjectives, and nouns. To make it more challenging, using intermediate or advanced Spanish phrases.
Play Lotería, a Mexican card game that is a variation on Bingo. Each player gets a board with different pictures and words in Spanish. One person acts as the caller; he or she will draw a card and read the Spanish word. (Alternatively, the students can take turns being caller.) The other players use playing pieces (use corn kernels or dry beans) to mark off spots on their board that match the word on the caller’s card.
Enjoy a few rounds of Veo, veo, the Spanish-speaking variation of two popular games in English, I Spy and 20 Questions. The first player starts by saying: “Veo, veo” (I see, I see). The second player answers: “¿Qué ves?” (What do you see?). The first person replies: “Una cosita” (a little thing). The game continues with player 2 asking yes/no questions until they figure out the mystery object. This game requires no equipment, so it’s great to play when traveling or on a field trip.
Role play is a fun, creative and effective way to practice conversation skills. Practice realistic situations or find inspiration in telenovelas (soap operas) to get in touch with your inner drama queen (or king). Here’s a handy list of 17 role play scripts that are appropriate for kids.
Have Fun in la cocina.
Look up some Spanish recipes online and turn la cocina (the kitchen) into a classroom! Cook delicious dishes inspired by Spanish or Latin American cuisine and have a potluck lunch or dinner. Try out our Spanish recipe-lesson for chocolate chip cookies or go for a main meal with some easy vegetarian recipes in Spanish to get you started.
More Ideas for Teachers and Schools
- Play Spanish games in the classroom.
- Play a trivia game using fun facts about Spanish.
- Hold a culture fair and showcase dances, music, food, etc. from other cultures.
- Have your students create flyers to promote the language(s) they are learning.
- Decorate classroom doors or school lockers.
- Do crafts and folk art projects.
- Give your students a chance to play teacher; allow a student to teach a lesson.
- Send a press release highlighting all your activities to local TV, radio and newspapers.
Start or Rejuvenate Your Spanish Studies
If you want to master Spanish, you have to find ways to integrate it into your daily life. The key is to practice in between formal Spanish lessons. Here are a few resources for you:
- Abecedario Interactivo (Interactive Alphabet) provides many interactive games to learn and practice the Spanish alphabet.
- Download a Spanish learning app on your phone to help you learn the language.
- Free Spanish Vocabulary Games offers all sorts of games to practice a wide array of Spanish vocab.
- Read bilingual books or books written in Spanish. If you need some book recommendations, here are five fantastic books for adult beginners.
- Schedule 2-3 Spanish classes a week with a live Spanish teacher.
Start practicing your Spanish skills right away! Set up a Free Class with Homeschool Spanish Academy today to see how you can learn Spanish with a certified language instructor from the comfort of your own home.
Would you like to read more titles on National Foreign Language Week? Check these out!
- How to Get Your School Involved for NFLW
- Top Professional Careers for World Languages and Literature Graduates
- Hispanic Flags: Symbolism Vocabulary in Spanish
- 20 Inspirational Quotes in Spanish for Your Classroom During NFLW
- Bring World Languages to Life in Your Spanish Classroom for NFLW
- Celebrate Foreign Languages Through Film During NFLW