My level one students are slowly reading the novel Esperanza (by TPRS publishing), which is based on the true story of a Guatemalan family that is forced to escape their home country when threatened by violence. The main character is on her way to the United States but has left her children with their grandmother because the journey is just too dangerous for them. Several of my students thought this was odd… after all the main character simply got on a bus! In response I found a wonderful documentary called Which way home that is about a group of children who travel on their own from Central America through Mexico in the hope of being reunited with family, getting an education or finding a job that will provide a better future. Which way home is almost entirely in Spanish, but you can play it with English subtitles. While it is a heavy topic, my students found it extremely high-interest and I felt that it added a lot of emotional immediacy that I will refer back to when we come back from break and pick up Esperanza once again..
My upper level students have been working through a unit on migrant farm workers in the United States. I was not going to post anything about this unit because feel like there are already a lot of units floating on the internet that take advantage of Francisco Jimenez´s biographical short stories in his book Cajas de cartón. We finished the unit this year with two days left before Thanksgiving break, so I decided to show the documentary La cosecha/The Harvest . Once again, wow! Focusing principally on the children who work in the fields, this is a film that had my students searching on Netflix that night because they could not wait to finish it the next day in class. While I previewed the film I was worried that the pace would be too slow for my students, but seeing kids their own age on screen helped them develop a bond with the people portrayed in the film.
The links provided go straight to the official websites of each documentary