You know those days that just go awesome? This has been one of those days. First, for Spanish 1 I shamelessly stole Andrea from Lugar Para Pensar’s Día de los Muertos plans and it went really, really well. We had some pretty good discussion about the differences between Halloween and Day of the Dead, and I think the kids enjoyed it.
So I was already on a roll when we got to Spanish 2. As you may already know, this has not been my most successful class this year. The last few weeks haven’t been bad, but they generally haven’t been awesome either. Right now, we’re in an expanded shopping unit. We did a shopping/clothing unit last year, but it was pretty basic. This year, I wanted them to expand their clothing vocab, but also learn the words for new stores, and, most importantly, I wanted to hit the importance of bargaining in Latin America. We briefly discussed it last year, but I wanted to get them some real exposure this year.
Yesterday, we did a conversation activity in which I projected slides with different pictures of clothing and a price tag. They talked about them in small groups (The polka dotted dress is expensive and ugly. I like the striped socks, they’re cheap. What a deal! I will buy it for my dad). Then I told each class that their homework was to find a collection something. Preferably something fairly light and small enough to fit 15-20 items in a bag. I told them it could be anything, from shoes to scarves to hair ties to paper clips. They were already fairly amped up just by that unusual assignment. I also gathered up several small collections from around my room (paper clips, playing cards, dry erase markers, regular markers, pens) because there are always those students who forget and I wanted everyone to be able to participate.
Last year, I made and laminated a great deal of play money on different colored paper (denominations from 5-5,000) thinking that I would use it as an incentive to keep everyone in the TL. Last year, I used it with my Spanish 3s and it worked really well. But this year, I haven’t had to rely on it. We started out using it in 1 and 2, but it has gradually fallen into disuse. My students are voluntarily speaking Spanish, like, all the time. But I digress. This morning I broke out the money and divided it into piles for each student (1 500, 2 each 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 4 5s) and one for me.
When my students came in, we first made sure that everyone knew the words for the various items people had brought (side note: I learned lots of random vocab today, and so did my students!), and then reviewed some phrases from yesterday and added a few new ones that would be good for bargaining (I’ll give you ___ for ___., etc.). I wrote all these on the board (no English, some of my wonderful drawings), and then we reviewed some numbers, specifically the bigger numbers & things like 105 or 1,240.
I handed out the money and told them that they could resell items that they purchased from another person, and we got started. At first, both classes were a little hesitant, but after a few minutes, they got into it.
Takeaways for next time:
- Try ridiculous prices – I found that, at least at first, some of my students would pay whatever I asked. I sold several paper clips for $100 in the first few minutes. I thought I was being outrageous, but until I bumped the price up even higher, the kids were a little backwards about actually bargaining.
- Be obnoxious – I haven’t spent much time in tourist markets, but some of the ones I have been to were, indeed, obnoxious. So once or twice, when I heard someone offer a price (say $100) for something that I also had, I jumped in with something like “Don’t listen to her, her stuff is expensive, buy mine! I’ll sell you a scarf for $35!”
- Take the bargaining “seriously” – A few times, I told students their offers were insults, that “I have a family to feed! You have to pay more than that!”
- A few phrases I should have included in the review: “Make me an offer” “What will you pay me for it?”
Ultimately, the kids loved it, and I had a great time. They spoke Spanish the whole time. The rule in my room is (generally) no English allowed, and they are pretty good with that, but generally that just means they’re quiet. Today there was chatter. In Spanish. A lot of it. After class, I asked the kids what they thought, and they all told me it was fun, but my favorite comment was “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken that much Spanish in one class before!”
Tomorrow, we’re going to follow up with some more discussion about bargaining in Latin America and why it’s something that I took a whole class period to practice.