Isn’t it time that everyone learns about the real reason Cinco de Mayo is celebrated? Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, the Sixteenth of September is. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican forces over the French army at the Battle of Puebla. It was a major turning point in the fight for Mexican independence that went on for five more years.
Here are the movers and shakers of 19th century Mexican history and Cinco de Mayo
- Benito Juárez: The popular Mexican President of the Mexican Republic who inspired Mexican Independence from European domination. Juárez was a Zapotec Indian.
- Ignacio Zaragoza: The Mexican general who won the Battle of Puebla.
- Emperor Maximillian: The puppet of the French government who was placed as the Mexican Emporer
- Empress Carlota: Maximilian’s wife
Labor Day always makes me think about work, or el trabajo, or professions, las profesiones. As my yoga teacher told us, work brings us dignity. This is especially meaningful when we consider that most of the world doesn’t have professional, regular, or meaningful work.
So, I have always been grateful to be a teacher, or maestra. I want to keep teaching people more: Spanish, life lessons, travel experiences, helpful hints, and then gratitude.
So—here are some useful, everyday Spanish vocabulary and expressions for the world of work.
Un professor(a)- secondary teacher or professor
Un maestro(a)- an elemtary teacher
Un ingeniero(a)- an engineer
Un artista- an artist
Un deseñador- a designer
Un contador(a)- an accountant
Un abogado(a)- a lawyer
Un arquitecto(a)- an architect
Un médico(a)- a physician
Una enfermera- a nurse
Un banquero- a banker
Un financiero- a financial business man or backer
Many times native speakers will describe a woman as a médica, maestra, or a contadora. But, I’ve had some Latina friends and colleagues who call themselves by the masculine profession, as in Yo soy arquitecto. Spanish, like all languages, has plenty of rule-benders.
Conversational Q & A
¿Qué eres tu? What are you?
Yo soy . . . artista. I’m an artist.
¿De qué profesión eres? Of which profession are you?
Yo soy contadora. I’m an accountant.
¿Trabajas en que profesión? In which profession do you work?
Yo soy banquero. Or Yo trabajo en la industria de . . . .
**You don’t need an el, la, un, or una before the profession. Another rule.
Professions Q and A’s are fun to use with photos of professions as prompts, and in circulating activities or mini-dialogues. More advanced students can play descriptive Jeopardy games.
Seasonal change is about to be upon us and some of us can feel it in the dryer slightly cooler air. Spanish seasons or las estaciones make good coversational topics. You can bring in the weather, el tiempo or el clima, activities, actividades, and clothing, or la ropa.
Conversational Q & A on Spanish Seasons
You can use photos or pictures illustrating las estaciones to be conversational cues; actividades and la ropa visuals would be great too. Use the following Q & A:
¿Qué estación es? What season is it?
Es el verano. It’s the summer.
¿Qué tiempo hace en . . . . ? What is the weather like in (season).
Hace calor y hace sol. It’s hot and sunny.
¿Cuáles actividades haces en . . . ? What activities do you do in (season).
Yo nado y juego al fútbol en el verano. I swim and I play soccer in the summer.
Activities Using the Q & A
- Partner Practice completely in Spanish.
- Circulating Activity with Handout for Answers. Each student has to ask everyone in the class one or all of the Spanish questions. Students must answer in Spanish. A teacher-created handout can be made for the answers or to tally answers.
- Beat the Clock. Students ask as many people as they can one or more questions in a short amount of time.
- Team Up. One team has to ask the other team the questions. The other team answers until an answer is incorrect, then the teams switch roles.
On here on the border of Texas and Mexico, New Mexico too for that matter, it is hot, or hace mucho calor. The heat, el calor, is all that everyone talks about. Use some Spanish weather phrases and vocabulary while they are truly relevant. This is when you eat jícama sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice instead of chiles rellenos.
Jícama is a potatoe like root vegetable from Mexico, but I somehow view it as more of a fruit. You have to peel it, then dice it and sprinkle it with the lime juice and chili powder. See the next blog post for a jícama, coconut, and mango salad my friend Alicia just told me bout.
Vocabulary & Phrases
- hace calor- it’s hot (now)
- está caliente- it’s hot (general description)
- hace much sol= it’s really sunny
- El sol quema- the sun is burning
- está soleado- it’s sunny (general description)
- está como un horno= it’s live an oven
- se puede freir juevos en la calle- one can fry eggs on the street
When someone asks ¿Qué tiempo hace?, or ¿Cómo est el tiempo? you now have a more varied list of responses for the summer, or el verano, only. Click here for a Spanish Weather Forecast Activity.
- Try using the questions and the varied answers with a friend or class mate
- Have one partner state the answer, and then the other needs to ask the question
- Make a flash card for each weather question and phrase. Play guessing and match up games with them.
- Illustrated the weather description cards and then try to say its Spanish phrase
- Go to www.weather.com to the Spanish language part of the site to check out weather phrases
- Listen to a Spanish language weather forecast on TV and try to follow it.
What could be more of a blast than musical chairs, sillas musicales, and Spanish conversational questions? Students of all ages love this active, slightly raucous game, and it calls on so much: comprehesnion of the question, saying the correct answer, and then repetition is provided by each round. Questions can range from the very simple to advanced, abstract questions. Sillas musicales has versatility all over it.
- Chairs: number of total students minus 1
- Conversational or other questions written on one side of an index card. NO ANSWERS. (or for a Jeopardy twist: answers and no questions)
- Music. Spanish lyrics preferred.
You can provide questions from a real life situation, or from a story, a non-fiction reading, or an Action series. BE SURE TO PRESENT THE CONTEXT MATERIAL FIRST.
- Review the context that you used, and then overtly present and teach the questions to the students. Have students practice them in pairs and even do a round of full class practice. All of this before sillas musicales.
- Set up Chairs in a cirle with the seat facing outward.
- Place an index card with a Spanish question on the seat.
- Have students stand outside of the chair cirle
- Play some music and arbitrarly stop it.
- The student who doesn’t get a seat is out.
- Each student must read the Spanish question out loud, and then answer it with general correctness in Spanish.
- If a student is far off of the answer mark, then he or she is out too.
- Take out a chair and a question. Saca una silla y la pregunta.
- Keep playing until you have one person left, the winner!
You’re on your cell so much every day like the rest of the world. We all talk on our cell phones so much, why not try it en español? There is no better way to practice Spanish conversation and Spanish numbers. The spontaneous nature of phone calls without the visual cues of people’s faces and gestures makes them challenging, but fun.
Spanish Telephone Games: Fun Numbers and Conversation Activities
You can get lots of Spanish numbers and phone-calling practice in the e-book, Spanish Telephone Games: Fun Numbers and Conversation Activities. My former colleague French teacher, Diane Farrug and I created this e-book. You’ll find all sorts of activities and games for Spanish numbers, cultural activities on phone-calling in Mexico, and sample Spanish phone conversations.
More learning Spanish and learning French e-books are coming from our partnership, Foreign Language House. Here’s the address for our e-books.
**This site won’t currently enable links; sorry you can’t just click on the address to get there now.