Reading Video

Before starting El Internado: Caperucita Roja

caperucita-rojaMy Spanish 2 students start the school year with a month long unit that culminates in various retellings of the fairy tale Caperucita Roja, or Little Red Riding Hood. I choose this story because it works well to introduce a lot of the vocabulary that students will later need in order to understand El Internado. I also want a familiar tale that we can work with in order to review Spanish 1 and introduce several past tenses. Most importantly I have to explicitly teach my students how a TPRS classroom works. Here is a quick outline of how I do it:

Week one: getting to know students with PQA, setting expectations

Not all teachers in my department are TPRS teachers… so I start with a focus on question words and what Terry Waltz calls the “super seven”:

Volition (“wants to”, “feels like”): quiere

Location (“is at”): está

Existence (“there is”, “there are”): hay

Preference (“likes”): le gusta

Identity (“is”, “am”, “are”): es

Motion (“goes”): va

Possession (“has”): tiene

Story possibilities are virtually limitless once I have verified that the whole class has mastered these six structures.

Week two: more PQA

We keep expanding students´ abilities to work with basic, fundamental structures. Once they have fully acquired the question words and Terry´s super six then we continue with another 10 fundamental structures:  sale de, tiene, hace, se pone triste, puede, le da, le dice, sabe, vuelve, ve. While this should all be review from Spanish 1, there is always a group of students from non-TPRS classes who have “studied these verbs” but can´t use them.  It is worthwhile going slowly and spreading this out to two weeks if necessary.

There is always a school dance on the second Friday of the new school year. I like to capitalize on this by asking a few questions about what is going to happen so that, the following Monday, I can introduce past tenses by asking what happened.  A few common questions: Who is going to the dance?  How are they going to get there?  What are they going to wear?  At what time are they going to be returning home?  I like to tell them that I am going too, with my abuelita who is 153 years old.  This defuses any social tension about the actual dance and allows us to jokingly make a fantasy dance in which we are all going to Disneyland afterwards.

week three: which one of you is Caperucita Roja?

Who went? How did they get there? What did they wear? How did they get home? I always pull an accomplice aside just before the beginning of class and get her to play along with me. Of course, she wore a red cape to the dance. Yes, she walked home, and it was dark. She had to walk through the forest. Did I mention that she lives with her grandmother?  I do not tell them that we are going to learn Little Red Riding Hood; I let them discover it on their own. It is all in past tenses. I often teach iba and fue at the same time (She went home, right? She did not go to McDonald´s, she went home. But class, while she was going home something happened! She was going home through the forest when she met someone…)

Here you can download one of the readings that I wrote for this week. You might want to change the ending if your students have never heard of the verb “to conjugate”. You´ll definitely want to change the underlined place names to reflect where you teach. I also like to change the name of the main character each year to personalize it to a student in one of my classes. Click here for the story: Sara y el lobo version 2

Update Sept 28, 2015: Here is a new activity for reading Sara y el lobo, with an improved reading too.

Students read in pairs in class. For homework they make a six panel illustration of the story with no words, which we use the following class for retells.

In 2014 I used this story within the first month of Spanish 1. Here are two examples made by students (click to see a larger version). The first is by Brenda G.:


Here is another student example, this one by Arielle M:


We also watch a children´s video.  Click here to open a window and see the version that we saw.

week four: some creative reworkings of the classic story

– Caperucita was actually working for the police. They were conducting a sting on suspicious lobos hanging out in the forest…

– As it turns out, the lobo is Caperucita Roja´s real grandmother! Yes, Caperucita´s mother was switched at birth, or stolen by the evil woman that Caperucita always thought was her real grandmother…

– Caperucita lived in Los Angeles. One day she was sitting on the front steps in front of her apartment building (listening to some hip hop) when her mother yelled her name out the window and told her that she had to take the 49 bus over to her grandma´s house to bring her grandma some foot soap. But Caperucita did not take the 49 bus, she decided to cut through the park even though it was getting dark and nobody went into the park after dark…

In the last two weeks I begin introducing Internado structures. We won´t even start viewing the first episode of El Internado until the second quarter (10th week), so I am not in a rush. Where it makes sense I´ll throw a pozo into a story. We have eight weeks. The idea is to slowly, naturally build their vocabulary in a targeted way.

Here you can download the list of structures that I identified for my own students for the first episode.  Your students might need more or less preparation (for instance, I don´t include phrases like “no van a volver” or “ayuda” on this list because generally my new Spanish 2 students have acquired that, but that is verified in class). The bolded structures are ones that I prioritize for acquisition (establish meaning by writing them on the board, circle them and feature them in PQA, sneak them often into class stories as well as the readings that students read on their own, require them on quick writes).  Click here to download the basic structures for episode 1


  1. I am curious how you used El Internado– I watched the entire series myself and am recalling episodes showing sex between students, sex between a student and his teacher, etc. Did you just fast forward through those scenes?

    1. Most of my posts about watching El Internado with students have been removed from my website, but if you had followed this thread when we were originally doing this then you would have seen instructions on how to watch and process with students so that the series is comprehensible. In short, I rarely finish the first season and have never finished the second season with students simply because there is so much stopping to discuss, write summaries on the board, discuss more, writing more, etc. We did a scene or two per day, about 25 minutes of class time to process 5-7 minutes of screen time. My students were always surprised after a month or two when the credits from the first episode started rolling and they all were shocked that the work of the past 6-8 weeks were all based on one episode! That also gives the teacher flexibility to choose the scenes, not just play whatever comes next. Many of these techniques come from the world of CI language teaching.

      If you get to the parts with sex (seasons 3 and 5, if I recall correctly), then I would suggest that you are not teaching the series as we did, you are just watching it.

  2. I love the idea of using a well known fairy tale to reinforce/introduce the sweet 16!
    Do you have a script for Caperucita roja?


    1. I do not have a script, but the first story I ask is based on “Sara y el lobo” (download link above). Basically, there is a wolf who wants to get in the house. I let the kids fill in details so that “Sara y el lobo” will be a different reading than the story that they have co-created (for instance, many classes suggest a more tragic ending for the girl, so the ending in my reading version is always a surprise). After I have asked a story similar to “Sara y el lobo”, and after having them read my version (this is several days later) we will create new versions which I end up writing on the board. Those new versions are always more complex but since I now do this lesson in the first semester of Spanish 1 I have found that there will always be a lot of reps of sweet 16 verbs. If we are missing a verb, like trae, then I just ask a question to get that verb into the story (¿Qué trae el lobo? ¿Quiere el lobo un burrito? ¡Sí! ¿Quién le trae el burrito? etc…)

  3. Hi. Thanks for sharing your resources. I’m from the UK so am not familiar with your system. What age are your SPanish 2 class? What age do you use El Internado with, please? Thanks

    1. Hi Caroline,

      I am a high school teacher, so that would be ages 13-17 (for the most part). At my district we only have a four year program (that is, high school), although it is common enough in other districts in the US to start teaching a world language in 7th grade (age 11 or 12) or younger. In my experience the show is suitable for ages 13-17, although it is a little risky for some districts.

  4. Mike- Thanks for your sharing your work. I have a few questions- perhaps we can dialogue via email? Some of them are: Has anyone posted El Internado on youtube? I teach a flipped course so having access online would be great. Also- any recommendations out there from teachers who have engaged students with native Spanish speakers abroad (internet buddies?).


    1. Perhaps this could work in a flipped classroom, but there are a couple of stumbling blocks that I can foresee that would keep me from doing that (that is, even if it is online).

      First, I don´t expose my students to nudity. I skip those scenes. I also skip scenes with overt sexual content… even if you did tell kids what to watch, I think many of them would watch it all. I can just imagine kids tweeting out screen shots of nudity with the hashtag of SpanishHomework…

      Second, the Internado is compelling. That is what keeps their attention in class, the immediate need to know what is happening in THIS scene. At home many of them will watch ahead getting the gist, but they won´t hear the repetitive comprehensible input that actually develops their language skills. The slow pace that I advise gives you time to wonder, to marvel, to comment and to write. Compelling does not develop language skills, it is a door to open students up to the comprehensible input that you provide. Slow down the experience so that they will be exposed to a maximum of comprehensible input… that would be hard if they are in charge of the pace.

  5. First, MIL GRACIAS for sharing! i just stumbled on your blog today and am really enjoying it! So… you mentioned in another comment that when you buy the DVDs they have the translation. Is that as an actual document or subtitles? Also, where did you buy it from? Thank you for your help! 🙂

    1. Hi Shane,


      No translation… closed captioned transcription in Spanish. Students do not read any English, they only see the Spanish.

      However I am not even using transcriptions anymore… I just go slowly and explain (in Spanish) the details of everything that is happening. At the beginning I can literally spend 20 minutes talking about a 90 second sequence… it takes me weeks to finish one episode. Make sure they understand and can verify EVERYTHING in a scene before moving on.

      Here is the link to the Corte Ingles… there may be cheaper options out there. Also the DVDs are made to be played in Europe, so you´ll need a multi-region DVD player.

    1. That is a good version!

      You know, with the first week I just go with the flow. Some classes like talking about themselves so PQA works great, but some are not yet in the sharing zone so the most comfortable approach may be to create a common experience together with a silly story. Or the two will meld together… I might start a story with a destination in mind but then get a kid who plays along and it turns into PQA, the class is smirking because they think that they´re derailing the lesson. Ha ha ha!

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