Learning about Christmas in Spain and Latin America

It’s such a fun time of year, and it is a really important time of year for millions of Spanish-speakers around the world. There are some really cool opportunities to use this holiday time to show some of the cultural traditions that are both familiar and different for our students.

This week, on Monday and Tuesday, Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual “Cyber Sale” which means everything in my store is 28% off (use the code CYBER2016 for the discount). I just wanted to share with you some of the items that might interest you as we head into the month of December.

As you might already know, I love using music in the classroom, and the holidays are no exception. I like to teach these 3 songs during the month of December to my Spanish 2 classes (this is the lowest level I teach right now).


En tus brazos estaré is a pop-song by Jesse y Joy. The video is adorable and features snowmen. A nice secular addition to your Christmas activities.

El burrito de Belén (aka El burrito sabanero) is a traditional Christmas song, but Juanes gives it an update. He makes everything better, let’s face it.

Noche de Paz is about as traditional as it gets, but this acapella version by La oreja de Van Gogh is super catchy and kids love it.


I’ve used this video in class for many years, and I am not sure why it took me so long to add it to my TPT resources. The video is called “Los padres no existen.” It features a little boy catching his parents placing gifts under the tree… I’ll let you watch and see what happens!

In the resource I have included a one-page informational reading about Los Reyes Magos, an activity for students to draw what they want the Reyes to bring to them (useful visuals for class discussion and then later as a display!), and activities to accompany the video itself, including a comic-style reading with screen shots.


My Christmas commercials pack is a great deal: 12 commercials and activities for 10 dollars! They make great warmups! Recommended for level 2 or higher.


Creating comprehensible input with commercials

Commercials are a really great way to infuse your language classes with a short burst of authentic language, but they are also really valuable as a vehicle for storytelling and discussion. Commercials are designed to be compelling and to elicit emotions. Paired with activities designed to make them comprehensible, commercials are wonderful for cultivating an environment of acquisition.

“Natural Approach teachers help make input  comprehensible by providing extra-linguistic knowledge in the form of pictures and realia, and by modifying their speech.”
“All that is required (for acquisition to occur)  is that the activity be interesting and comprehensible.”
─Fundamentals of Language Education,
Dr. Stephen D. Krashen 1992 www.sdkrashen.com


If there are several unfamiliar structures, you should plan to pre-teach those structures before introducing the commercial. TPR, personalized questions and answers, and storytelling are great pre-teaching techniques.

If the commercial tells a story, it is great for movie talk. Simply play the video, pausing frequently to talk about what is happening. Ask questions, using circling questions if new vocabulary/structures are being presented. Be sure to write new words on the board as well to maximize comprehension.

After pre-teaching, you might show the video itself or you might begin with still shots from the video.


A good next step after movie talk is to do a reading. Some options are to type up a description of the story in the commercial or to transcribe the commercial itself and use as a reading. During or after reading, be sure to ask questions. Ask comprehension questions, opinion questions, linking prior knowledge questions. If discussion takes over, allow it to happen.

slide4 slide2

Want to assess the activity? Some ideas…

  • Take those still screen shots, make statements and have students decide which image you are describing.
  • Provide students with a list of events in the target language and have them put them in order.
  • Have students match written statements with images.
  • Have students with more proficiency do a “retell.” Have them describe the still images from the commercial.

Handout from my ACTFL 2016 presentation

Want to give it a try? FREE “La abuela” Verizon Commercial activity