Finding creative ways to encourage young Spanish students to practice the language throughout the day can be as easy as realizing that most of them love two things unconditionally: funny photos and social media. So, why not use these common “distractions” to encourage students to practice a language more often?
This article will review three ideas of how to bring the power of social media and interactive learning into Spanish classrooms using Pixacat, a free photo app for the iPhone to edit cat photos that may also be an ally for Spanish teachers.
Cats have become very popular all over the internet and everyone seems to be sharing funny cat photos on Facebook and Twitter. So, why not embrace this trend and use it to your advantage in order to help students learn Spanish?
Give them an innovative assignment, ask them to take a photo of a cat (or to find one online) and add a funny caption in Spanish. Extra points will be earned by whoever gets 20 “likes” from Spanish speaking friends on Facebook.
Here is an example of what the photos may look like (this one says “I have to take a bath?” in Spanish):
One of the best ways to learn Spanish is to use it during your daily life in order to practice the verbs and words used most frequently. Adding captions in Spanish to photos of what you eat, the places you visit or what you are doing is a great way to force your brain to think in a second language throughout the day. One additional twist is to ask students to like look at each other photos on Twitter (or Facebook) and ask questions in Spanish about each photo so they get to practice their Spanish. If someone uploads a photo of a burger (with its appropriate caption in Spanish) someone else may ask something like “where are you eating that burger? (in Spanish of course).
Here is an example of what these pics may look like (this one says “I just ate kiwi”)
“Selfies” are outrageously popular all around the world (even Obama has taken them!), if you ask your students to complete an assignment for a Spanish class including a “Selfie” they will not be able to resist the urge of immortalizing their Spanish skills on the “interwebs”. Try it and you´ll see. You can ask them to make a selfie and caption it in Spanish describing their thoughts or their context. Are they about to go out? Are they in school? Are they thinking about having lunch? A “Span-fie” is the way to go.
This is an example of how these selfies may look (this one is self explanatory):
You can learn more about Pixacat and download it here (it´s fun, and it is free!): http://pixacat.com/
You can make your own variation of these assignments; these are only ideas to get your imagination started. The main point of this article is: find creative ways that allow your students to have fun while learning Spanish. It works!
Do you have any other ideas for using digital technology and social media to encourage young students to practice Spanish? I would love to read about them and discuss them on Twitter, you can talk to me here: http://twitter.com/VivaLanguages