Spanish Teaching Materials

It is a rude awakening when first year Spanish teachers enter their classrooms for the first time.  Based on my experiences, most teachers receive basic supplies such as a pair of scissors, a few pens, pencils, and a few dry erasure markers with eraser and not much else.

It takes so much more to begin and maintain effective teaching materials in a Spanish classroom.  If a teacher has 20 to 30 students per class, several materials are necessary for a simple hands on activity.  Markers, scissors, glue, colors, pens, pencils, construction paper, staplers, and computer paper are needed, for starters.  Basic supplies, provided for a teacher at the beginning of the school year, don’t even begin to cover the maintenance of supplies for one hands on activity per week much less the entire year.

All teachers need teaching materials, but Spanish teachers need specialized materials to set up an effective teaching classroom.  These materials are not typically provided by most school districts.  Therefore, teachers end up paying for these items out of their own pockets.  Would we ask a surgeon to purchase his own surgery equipment?  No, but we do expect teachers to buy their own materials.  This is a hardship for any Spanish teacher much less one who is teaching Spanish for the first time.  Teachers have to make their own teaching materials which means they have to purchase the supplies to make them, or they have to purchase custom made materials.  Either way, they pay out of their own pockets.

Another hardship for Spanish teachers is that these materials are not found in many educational stores.  Usually, the Spanish materials sold in Spanish are developed using a different Spanish dialect than the one spoken in a particular area.  Spanish teachers lag behind other teachers in getting materials because Spanish is considered an elective.

With 23 years’ experience, I can suggest what every Spanish teacher might need to establish an effective teaching environment for the students. Therefore, I am recommending that every Spanish teacher possess a Spanish Materials Back to School Kit consisting of the following:

1)      Calendar:  This is a “must have” for all Spanish teachers. The Spanish/English calendar should be large enough to include the days, weeks and months.  It should include special phrases that include:  Today is ___________________.  Yesterday was ____________________, Tomorrow is ________________________.  Special phrases would also include:  The temperature is ______________.  The day is ___________________.

2)      Spanish/English Labels: All Spanish teachers need labels with the names of classroom items in both languages.  Some examples are:  door/puerta, windows/ventanas, desk/escritorio, table/mesa, etc.  These labels need to be cut and laminated.  All of these materials take time to prepare.

3)      Poster with Essential Spanish/English Sentences: Spanish teachers should have a poster with essential Spanish/English sentences such as:  May I go to the restroom?  May I go to the nurse’s office? May I get a drink of water?  Many students come into our classrooms knowing only one language, and it is important to have a list of Survival Sentences in both languages.

4)      Welcome Back to School Letter:  This special touch is not mandatory, but definitely important.  Sending the letter home allows the Spanish teacher to form a strong first impression for parental outreach purposes.  The letter should be written in both Spanish and English since parents may know only one language.

5)      Classroom Rules List: The list should include the classroom rules in both Spanish and English. These classroom rules should be listed on a large laminated poster and placed in plain view so that the students are clearly aware of the expected behaviors in the classroom.  

6)      Classroom Supply List:  Parents will appreciate these lists to be included with the Welcome Back letter to ensure that all children bring classroom supplies, if the supplies are affordable. Having additional classroom supplies available for students who are unable to afford their own supplies is crucial.
Well, based on my personal experience, these are the items that should be part of any Spanish Teacher’s Back to School Kit. I hope that you find this information helpful. 

I would love for you to leave a note or comment if you think that I have missed anything that should be included in the kit.

Happy Teaching,

Paula Ramirez and Diana Gonzales
Creative Expressions

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