New Cultural Presentations & New Comics

We have been busy this school year adding more cultural presentations to the Master Class. We now have 50 Maravillas posted and another 30 in the works! These cultural presentations focus on specific people, role models, doing admirable things in the target language cultures. This approach was inspired by a cultural anthropologist who suggested that we stop presenting “Culture” and instead introduce students to people from the target culture. Instead of making gross generalizations about culture, show people that are doing things that we admire and let students infer the cultural values.

For example, we have one presentation about a classically trained ballerina in Peru who dedicates her time in retirement to being a ballet instructor in a low-income community because she believes that great art belongs to us all. There is another presentation about a man in Mexico City who dresses in a superhero costume and helps pedestrians cross the street safely– if you’ve ever been to Mexico City, you’ll recognize that this is a superhero task. I use that presentation to discuss equity in city planning and lead my students to question why publicly funded city parks are nicer in wealthier zones. The first year I presented that Maravilla, my students were inspired to organize a Saturday clean-up day at a local park.

Finding the subjects for these presentations is the hardest part. It is not simply a cultural presentation, but anchoring the discussion to the experiences of a real person from the target culture makes these presentations vivid for the language learner.

In case you are wondering: yes, we have started to make new cultural presentations in French as well. The first of the new Merveilles in French, “Anti-gaspi à Toulouse”, is already posted in the Master Class.

The other passion project that has consumed me this year is the creation of the comic books. These short comics are meant to add a diversity of text types for students who need a break from full-length novels or are having trouble developing the stamina to read a full novel. Volume 4 is almost complete in all three languages: French, German & Spanish.

I am happy with the first four volumes, but I am especially excited about volume 5 which is designed to be read in the first semester of the first year of language instruction. It is a story about new friendships & new beginnings, how hard it can be to kindle those beginnings but how worthy the struggle is in the end. The story has been written and is in the process of being reviewed by our target language experts before being illustrated. We expect it to be released by June, so it will definitely be available in the CI Master Class eBook Library as well as in paperback by September 2023.

Over the summer we will be re-organizing the CI Master Class website so that it will be easier to find the techniques and activities you need, when you need them. Here is a preview of the key elements of the CI Master Class, although I am still playing with ways to place some of the whole class reading activities into the first category:

Finally, we have added new songs to our “transition activity song games”; there are now 17 French songs, 27 Spanish songs and 7 German songs. Fun transition activities are the metaphorical nets below us for when an activity loses steam… which seems to happen more in Spring. At this time of year it is either a song activity or a quick FVR session. Thank goodness for the classroom library!

Speaking of the classroom library; be sure to sign up for the monthly newsletter from The World Language Bookshelf so that you hear about new books as they are published. The secret to a successful independent reading program is having the right texts for your students.

Best wishes,