10 June 2018

Videos in English for Spanish Class

Tim McGraw perfectly captured why language learning is essential for everyone.

When I started teaching Spanish, did I ever anticipate seeing the words "Tim McGraw" and "language learning" in the same sentence? I mean, did YOU?

But his new video--and his video explaining it: 100% pure renewed faith in humanity.

Now, I had been toying with the idea of introducing Spanish class without Spanish since I saw this video last year:

Don't get me wrong, we will still be rocking out to ChocQuibTown and Bomba Estéreo when they walk in, but I've given a lot of thought to the WHY of learning Spanish, and I think it's important to address that question directly and immediately. And though this video has ZERO Spanish, I think it is a crystal clear demonstration of the TRUE power of learning another language:

In the video, Juliet Lyan describes her work encounter with a deaf man and his smile when he realized "someone in the hearing world would want to know about his culture."

I want that smile for my students.

I want them to recognize, to empathize with that feeling of not belonging, and to recognize also that they CAN do something about it for someone else. I want them to SEE how they can positively impact people on a daily basis with just a few words, that they can help heal someone else's isolation, and thereby heal their own.

This video is actually going to be toward the end of my "Why Spanish?" playlist/lesson, the climax.

Before I get to Juliet's perfect encapsulation of everything I want for kids out of language learning, I want to show them some practical applications, a true PBLL project that really demonstrates how vital it can be to reach out with their new language and how strong that bond can be. (Incidentally, 10th graders at our school take Spanish I AND participate in service learning at the local retirement center!)

Now this particular project is the result of a system that is peculiar to the U.S., and so more authentic for English language learners. (Funny, there aren't as many large groups of lonely elders in other countries...) However, it is a further demonstration of how students can seek out others and use language to drive away loneliness, to build relationships with just the desire to reach out.

And the desire to reach out is what Sr. McGraw lays out in his video explaining why he felt the need to release his hit "Humble and Kind" in Spanish: 

So this, THIS is where we are starting Spanish I this year. Everyone knows how widespread Spanish is, so the Top 3 thing is not going to move anyone who doubts that they need Spanish. They know how prevalent it is, they see it everywhere. They also know that they can function without it just fine. HOWEVER, there are two things that Sr. McGraw hits right on the head:
  1. "If you can reach in and touch someone with their own language, when it's not yours, I mean that's kinda cool!" The power of just the effort, the willingness to make yourself vulnerable for the sake of communication
  2.  "And to be in a position to be able to give it a shot, may not be perfect, my accent may not be perfect, my lilt may not be perfect, but I think you feel where I'm coming from." That that effort need not be diminished by imperfections, that the message, the connection is actually strengthened by earnestly opening yourself up in spite of potential for error.

So those messages--plus the part about touching someone else's heart that just makes me melt--are why we're starting with Sr. McGraw. And ending with him.

Because if there's a dry eye in the house after watching this video, well then we have more important things to do teach than vocabulary anyway.

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