I teach 12th grade Spanish in a Title I high school. Title I means that the vast majority of our students live below the poverty level. We are a multi-ethnic school that has been working relentlessly to get our test scores stable. I teach in a low income community in Brooklyn, New York. Our student population is mostly African-American and Hispanic. Seventy percent of our students receive free lunch and breakfast. My students are motivated and are hard-working, but they face obstacles of location, income, and limited resources.
Comí un pie. You ate a foot? Many words in Spanish look like English words, however they have completely different meanings. As my students start to learn how to write in Spanish a dictionary can be a powerful tool to help them write logical sentences instead of comical ones. False cognates are confusing to beginning Spanish learners since they look and sometimes sound just like English words, but Di un apología does not mean I gave an apology but I gave an eulogy. Funny yes, but also confusing and a bit embarrassing for the student.
Enter the great dictionary with example sentences and illustrations to help clear up the confusion. Remember that striving and struggle precede success even in the dictionary. Giving students the opportunity to strive and struggle to find the correct word increases not only how much they learn but also their self-esteem.
Tears of laughter is not what I should be experiencing when grading Spanish compositions and tests. A simple well written sentence always makes a stronger point than a long convoluted one which makes no sense. Help us write good sentences.
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