One of the goals I have for my students is to expose them to different dialects of Spanish and get them thinking of Spanish as a true world language. This is usually done starting in Spanish 1 in World Language classes, but I’ve found that with my immersion and heritage students this hasn’t been a major focus of their curriculum, so I like to do so at the beginning of the year. This activity for teaching Spanish dialects could probably be done at just about any level class, even a beginner language exploration class.
After talking about dialects for a few lessons students choose a different country to research. I make a single Google Slides presentation and each student creates a slide with slang from a different country. They need to describe what the word means in Spanish or with pictures. This is the perfect opportunity to teach about the importance of doing good research. Students often write down words from the first website they find, without reading closely. The source may not be reliable or the word may be one from an indigenous language spoken in that country, which is would be important to know. I require that students make sure they can find their slang words listed in more than one source. Living sources are always encouraged! Chatting with friends or family members from those countries is a fun way to involve others and validate the language varieties they speak.
Next we have a day for class (mini) presentations. Each student shows their slide, says their country and where it is located, and reads the words they have chosen. This year I have one very chatty section, so I added something new that worked great. I gave students a labeled map of the Americas and for each presentation they had to find the country on the map and write down at least one of the words from that country. A great way to get in a geography lesson and make students listen at the same time!
After the presentations I print off all the slides in color and put them up on the wall. Students are very proud of their work. We have a great reference area and a nice-looking bulletin board of student work for the rest of the semester.