In this foreign language project, high school students select a city in a foreign country where the language they are studying is spoken. They plan a trip to the country and develop a travel guide, which includes an itinerary, a budget, day trips, menus, and conversation cards. The promotional materials are presented at a travel fair for peers to entice them to sign up for a trip.
View how a variety of student-centered assessments are used in the ¡Vamonos! Unit Plan. These assessments help students and teachers set goals; monitor student progress; provide feedback; assess thinking, processes, performances, and products; and reflect on learning throughout the learning cycle.
Begin the unit by asking students, Have you traveled to a foreign country? Have students share their travel experiences in a whole-class discussion. Ask students to describe the aspects of their trip that they enjoyed or found challenging, why they (or their parents) chose the destination, and so forth. Then ask students to examine the differences and similarities between their culture and the one they visited. Pose the Essential Question, How are we different yet also similar? Encourage students to go beyond the superficial differences such as the food, language, and climate. For example, encourage students to look at local customs, family living arrangements, education, consumerism, gender roles, and so forth. If students have limited international travel experience, discuss differences among cultural groups within their own country.
Choose a city or country in which the people speak the language your students are learning. Set up a simulation of a visit to the country in your classroom. For a few days, have students experience that place. This should all be done in the target language. Have students document their learning in learning logs. The entries can be used as examples when students work through their own projects. Suggestions include:
Have students write a small persuasive piece persuading others to visit the country based on the information learned. Conduct a short mini-lesson on the use of persuasive language and techniques used to persuade others. Make sure students use the examples as they work on their own products.
Divide the class into “tour groups” consisting of four students each. Hand out the collaboration rubric as a guide for students to use while they work through the project as a team. Explain that students are going to take on the role of travel agents. Each group will be “traveling” to a different country in which the language they are studying is spoken. Provide a list for students to use to select a travel destination. Have each group assume the role of a travel agent. Each group is responsible for planning a one- or two-week trip to a foreign city or town. As travel agents, have the students develop marketing materials for their trips. Then at a travel fair, have students persuade other students in the school to join their trips. Have students assign the following roles within their groups:
Using the project rubric, explain the materials that should be included. Decide if you would like students to create the documents in the target language, English, or both languages. Hand out the checklist for students to use as they go through the process of creating their presentations.
Assign each group a budget of $2,000 per tourist for the trip. Have students plan a trip for that amount or less, including travel to and from the destination. Encourage students to consider the type of trip they are going to plan. To help them decide, consider posing some of the following questions:
Have students find the exchange rate for their country using The Universal Currency Converter*. Model how to create a spreadsheet for a budget and create a pie graph, to show the breakdown of the budget. Sources of information include a newspaper from the city, such as Paris's Le Monde*. Newspapers from around the world can be found at Foreign Language News and Newspapers*.
Have students create a tour of selected sites that would give tourists a better understanding of a particular culture. The tour should focus on at least five major sites. To identify sites, have students contact real travel agencies and the Chamber of Commerce for their destination; search the Internet using sites such as the World Site Atlas*, The Lonely Planet Online*, or Fodor's Travel Online*; refer to travel guides; or contact students who live in the selected location (through an ePALS exchange). When planning the itinerary, students should consider travel times between destinations, transportation, and how much time should be spent at each site. In the promotional materials, information about the selected sites should include the significance of the site to the people of the country, the history of the site, and why the site should be visited. Students should think about how they can convince others to visit a place.
Each group should plan a special meal for their guests that gives the travelers a taste of the delicacies of the local cuisine. After researching the special food, have students create a menu for the meal with descriptions of the dishes.
Explain to students that many people who visit a foreign country cannot speak the language and must rely heavily on phrasebooks. Have students create conversation cards with basic phrases for someone who does not speak the language. As students create their cards, they can act out scenarios to anticipate which phrases might be useful. Scenarios might include ordering in a restaurant, shopping for food, asking directions, seeking medical attention, paying for lodging or transportation, or buying stamps. Each group should create at least 10 cards.
Provide examples of extra experiences that students may want to consider including in their tours. For example, they might want to include a day trip to a historic site, the chance to participate in a ceremony, a trip to an artisan community, and so forth.
Encourage students to learn about local customs. By understanding local customs, visitors can often avoid embarrassing situations and be more culturally sensitive. This makes visitors more approachable by the locals.
After students create the pieces of their trip, have students put the pieces all together so that they can be presented and distributed to others. Students can create a brochure, travel portfolio, or travel video. Have students peer conference with at least one other group to receive feedback and suggestions on their products. Allow students time to make necessary revisions based on feedback before having final products ready to showcase. Remind students that their task is to persuade their peers to sign up for their trip.
Invite students from other classes and hold the travel fair in a large space, such as an auditorium or gymnasium. Make sure students have their materials ready for display, and, if time allows, have them make "souvenirs" (small handmade flags, representative foods, and so forth) for their visitors. Set up display tables or booths around a gymnasium or auditorium, and invite guests to visit each display to learn about life in a foreign city. Explain that each guest should “sign up” for one of the tours. Provide sign-up sheets at each table.
Now that students know quite a bit about another culture, ask them to reconsider and respond in writing to the Essential Question that they answered on the first day, How are we different yet also similar?
Have students fill out the collaboration rubric. Use the rubrics in your final assessment of the project.
Mary Esther Provencio and Karla Ramos participated in the Intel® Teach Program, which resulted in this idea for a classroom project. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.
Grade Level: 9-12
Subject: Foreign Language
Topics: Cultural Geography, Economics
Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Decision Making, Synthesis
Key Learnings: Vocabulary Enrichment, Historical and Cultural Understanding
Time Needed: 3 weeks, 5 days a week, 50-minute lessons
Background: From the Classroom in Texas, United States