Día de Muertos

“Gracias a las fiestas el mexicano se abre, participa, comulga con sus semejantes y con los valores que dan sentido a su existencia religiosa o política. Y es significativo que un país tan triste como el nuestro tenga tantas y tan alegres fiestas. Su frecuencia, el brillo que alcanzan, el entusiasmo con que todos participamos, parecen revelar que, sin ellas, estallaríamos. Ellas nos liberan, así sea momentáneamente, de todos esos impulsos sin salida y de todas esas materias inflamables que guardamos en nuestro interior.” Octavio Paz 

Whenever I plan a unit I do it keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is that my students will be able to communicate (at their proficiency level) with native speakers. We often discuss this in class, that a language is not a list of words that you memorize, and neither is a trophy to put on your bookshelf. Language is alive, and you keep it alive by using it.

Children, in general, are very open to this idea, and after a class, we had about proficiency, they have been making a conscious effort to add more ingredients to their proficiency sandwich (further explanation in a future post.)

They know also, that communicating successfully in a second language requires more than knowing words and sentences. It also requires being able to empathize with a speaker by bringing respect and cultural understanding to the mix.

I love teaching Dia de los Muertos because it offers,  not only a unique opportunity to tour an interesting perspective rooted in an ancient Mesoamerican belief about the cycle of life, but also an excellent chance for a deeper understanding of the diverse and rich culture of Mexico.

Since it is also one of my students’ favorite units, it provides a great chance for the acquisition of vocabulary within context, and opportunities for spontaneous language practice.

I’m Chilean so did not grow up celebrating this holiday, but I have learned so much about it from the Mexican students I once had, my Mexican friends, and the Mexican-American community in general.

Personally, I’m tremendously grateful for this new perspective on life and death. It has allowed me to switch the pain I used to feel about the death of my cousin and transform it into a celebration of her life by remembering all the happy moments we lived together.


This is the perspective I expose my students to, that Dia de Muertos is a wonderful opportunity to keep their dear departed and ancestors memories in their heart ♥️

To assess learning in the past,  I usually had my novice-mid and novice-high students write informative pieces about the holiday. This year though, I wanted my students to take a sensory virtual trip  so I could introduce them to new verbs related to the senses. We had been using ver and escuchar for a long time, but this was the perfect chance to introduce saborear and oler.

I created these two fichas that sort of look like graphic organizers, to help my students take the trip. I played “La Llorona” by Angela Anguilar and asked them to close their eyes. Then I said ” Es 2 de noviembre, estamos en Mexico!” “¿Qué ves?”  They are used to play Veo, Veo so they started naming things right away.

Then I shared the ficha on the Promethean board and we brainstormed sentences before writing. I spread all the vocabulary flashcards on my rug. Each student grabbed a clipboard and a pencil and joined us in the rug.  I played Angela Aguilar playlist (per request of my students) as they wrote. Click on the picture to access the playlist on Spotify.


Here are the two fichas. Feel free to share, download and spread the word by reposting and tagging friends. They will be freebies for a week only.

Please do not remove the authorship mark when you use them and do not forget to tag me if you use it with your students.

Here is the link to the Viaje Sensorial for Novice-High students and up viaje-5c-20sens_33844013-2

Here is the link to the Viaje Sensorial for Novice-Mid students viaje-5c-20sens_33869377

For love & justice.

Françoise Xx


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