News summaries in the target language are such an easy way to provide cultural, comprehensible input to your students. You can write summaries that are as simplified as your students need in order to be comprehensible to them. Inspired by Maris Hawkins, I began publishing weekly news summaries of stories from the Spanish-speaking world last spring, in Spanish, written for Spanish 1 students. French teachers will be excited to hear that Cécile Lainé has taken on the same project for French news summaries from the Francophone world! My preferred use of these mini-newspapers is to add them to class libraries and to use as free reading materials, but they are also a good way to inject culture into your classes if you are looking for more! (Read this post for ideas on how to use current events in class.) In my experience, students are engaged in cultural lessons because part of the reason that most students enrolled in the class to begin with is that something about that culture intrigues them. Of course, some enrollment is compulsory, but even for those students that are there because they have to be…we are wired for relationship; wired for connection. We are intrigued by other people and other lives. Finding ways to explore the target culture in the target language has served to engage my students, increase their empathy, and build up that mysterious mental representation of language that results in deeper and broader fluency.
The first issue of the Fall 2016 Subscription to EL MUNDO EN TUS MANOS came out last night. (You can also purchase each issue individually.) This issue features five news stories from Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Chile. In addition to the facts of each current event itself, I always try to include relevant historical information that you can use as a jumping off point into further cultural study. For example, in the story about the march commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the coup d’etat in Chile, I shared a (very) brief overview of the coup and Pinochet’s dictatorship.
The target reader for these news summaries is a student in their first or second year of Spanish. Since most classes have just begun and these students have a very limited vocabulary, the news stories are written with primarily Sweet 16 verbs and cognates. Check out the word cloud below to see a graphic depiction of the word list (minus most proper nouns). Each issue in the subscription is provided in both print-ready PDF and editable Word files so that you can easily copy and paste the text into other formats, such as slideshows for reading together.