You know a novel is great when you can’t escape it on the Internet. Whether you read my blog, Kristy Placido’s blog, Sharon Birch’s blog, Profe Hanson’s blog, you’ve surely heard of Esperanza. Written by Carol Gaab, it is the real-life story of a woman who flees Guatemala with her family to escape political persecution. They immigrate to the United States, illegally at first, but eventually receive citizenship. It is a powerful novel to use in Spanish courses not only because of the deep cultural themes that it addresses, but also because it is written with very limited vocabulary and from the first person-perspective. For this reason, it is easy for novice learners to understand  and provides the not-always-so-easy-to-get-in repetitions of first person verb forms. I used it at the beginning of my Spanish 1B course (the second year of middle school Spanish), and it was the perfect way to start of the year. Purchase the novel here.

Well today is the day of Esperanza, apparently. This morning, Kristy Placido shared an activity on Facebook that she created for her classes to use in Chapter 7 of the novel. She got the idea for the activity from Cynthia Hitz, and she posted it on her blog here. Less than an hour later, I got a text message from my dear friend Christina Bacca, who teaches Spanish in the greater DC area, sharing a beautiful painting that one of her students did at the end of the novel:

Custom painting by one of Christina Bacca’s students

The student created the painting as part of the Esperanza final project, for which Christina used a modified version of Sharon Birch’s assignment (click here to access; it’s in Week 7). Christina was inspired by Sharon to use the song “Ave que emigra” by Gaby Moreno to start the novel (Sharon suggested using the song and provided a lyrics activity for it in this post, or you can download a simple lyrics sheet from this post of mine from 2012 which I had totally forgotten about). And get this–two of Christina’s ah-mazing students loved the song so much that they learned how to perform it together! Check out their incredible recording–I am amazed!!!:

One thing that is important to note…if you ever create an activity for a copyrighted novel and wish to share it online, make sure that you check with the copyright holder before you do. Depending on what is included in the activity (excerpts from the text, for example), it could constitute a derivative works copyright infringement. I have solicited and received explicit, written consent to post activities for Esperanza from TPRS Publishing Inc., which is why I am allowed to share things like the activity included in this post on my blog. Also, remember that anything that you post online for your students to access can also be accessed by anyone on the Internet (unless it is in a password-protected area of the web). This means that you can’t post digital copies of the novels that you’re reading or pages from the Teacher’s Guides, since other teachers can search for that novel and access those materials without having purchased them. Let’s model integrity for our students by only using materials that we have purchased or are otherwise legally allowed to use in our classes!

I received express, written consent from the publisher to share the materials that I created and to use the cover image and title of the novel in this blog post. I am not compensated in any way by the author or publisher for writing this post.

More on teaching Esperanza:

  1. Esperanza, Chapter 1 (Day 1 and Day 2)
  2. Esperanza, Chapter 2
  3. Esperanza, Chapter 3
  4. Esperanza, Chapters 4-6
  5. Esperanza, Chapter 7
  6. Esperanza, Chapter 8
  7. Esperanza, Chapter 9
  8. Esperanza, Chapter 10

Esperanza around the web

Using novels in class:

4 replies on “Esperanza around the web

  1. Thank you!! Perfect timing! We are reading Esperanza right now, and are on Chapter 6. I look forward to incorporating some of this into my class! They are enjoying the book, and really getting into the immigration theme.

  2. I love teaching “Esperanza” in my beginning-level high school classes. The language is so simple, yet the themes are so complex! Will definitely be incorporating some of this when we read it this spring.

  3. I am a beginning TPRS teacher. I am having trouble connecting levels to grades. Would you use this novel for grade 10 students in their second year of Spanish?

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