How Can the Use of Culture as the Vehicle to Deliver the Content of Foreign Language Instruction Develop and Enhance Boys' Engagement and Achievement in the Study of Spanish? — Cecilia Lobato Ebbler, The Gilman School, United States

  • Foreign Languages (2010-11)
How Can the Use of Culture as the Vehicle to Deliver the Content of Foreign Language Instruction Develop and Enhance Boys' Engagement and Achievement in the Study of Spanish? — Cecilia Lobato Ebbler, The Gilman School, United States

Nineteen Fifth Grade male students from The Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland, in the USA, were chosen for this study.  The students were not new to the school, and had studied at least two years of Spanish. All students were aged ten to eleven and belonged to the same homeroom. Prior to the study, the students were used to having classes in which the grammatical content and the cultural aspects of the language were taught either at separate times, or in different classes. In some activities the grammatical content and the culture were combined, but this occurred more in an opportunistic and non-consistent way. At Gilman School, the students are exposed extensively to Spanish cultures during their years in the Lower School. However, when the students are taught cultural aspects of Hispanic countries, a portion of the delivery is done in the English language, or at particular times set aside for this specific purpose.

To foster the engagement of the students to learn Spanish and to foster their desire to use the Spanish language effectively, I chose a specific topic (The Bicentennial Celebration of the Mexican Independence) as the vehicle to deliver specific curricular instruction to the students. Activities that included specific curricular content and that were geared to foster conversation were designed for this study. Spanish instruction at Gilman’s Lower School is limited to 30 minute classes, three times a week, and there are almost no opportunities for the students to practice their Spanish at other times during the school day. The topic had to be interesting and exciting for the students so that they would feel compelled to speak in the Spanish language during the time allocated to instruction.