🎶Hanukah linda sta aki 🎶

Since I started designing my own curriculum, I’ve been trying to expose my students to the myriad of perspectives that exist within what is called here in the US, the Hispanic community. I design a unit about the end of the year holidays every year, and every year I strive to make this unit more inclusive by bringing the perspectives of minority groups within our culture.

I had sensed that my Jewish students were not feeling a great connection to all the Christian-based celebrations, therefore last year I decided to teach about Janucá celebration & the Jewish community in Argentina. I wanted those students to see that there are Hispanic people who shared their faith.

This year I’m including more Spanish speaking countries with strong historical ties to the Jewish faith in this unit.

With my novice-mid and novice-high students. I’m also discussing the Sefardí community in Spain and the religious purge that happened in 1492 en España (my students have background knowledge about 1492 because earlier on in the year, they learned about the Catholic King and Queen of Spain, Columbus and the colonization of the Americas.) I’m also mentioning the law that came into force in Spain allowing dual citizenship for the descendants of Jews forced out of Spain in 1492.  The law — which aims to correct the “historical mistake” of sending Jews into exile in 1492, or forcing them to convert to Catholicism, among other atrocities, is discussed so students start becoming aware of historical reparations processes might look like.

I believe it is important to share these historical facts because they have had a ripple effect on nowadays Hispanic culture.

My goal is to activate my students’ critical thinking and make them aware of facts that turn out to be the root of so many problematic situations that are happening in the world today.

How did I do it?

Since I teach through storytelling, I researched and read different sources of information about the holiday.  l also watched two documentaries about the influence of the Jewish community in Spain during medieval times, and the religious purge of 1492. I looked at the information from a cultural/historical/secular point of view. Then I found a common thread. I simplified and summarized my research and created flashcards with key vocabulary. I then introduced the topic in a very conversational way and differentiated the amount of content and vocabulary introduced depending on the proficiency level of the group I was teaching.

You can find the flashcards at my TpT store , the set has 26 keywords related to historical facts and also to the song Ocho Kandelas/Kandelikas. 

Please do not remove the watermark on them, and tag me in social media if you are using them with your classes!

✨  Y porque una celebración no es celebración sin música para bailar y cantar,  comenzamos la unidad de  ‘Fiestas de Fin de Año’ con la canción en Ladino, Ocho Kandelikas. Una de las favoritas de mis estudiantes! 

Eight Little Candles is a Jewish song celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah. The song is sung in Ladino, a Spanish-derived language traditionally associated with the Sephardic Jewish community, whose ancestors lived in Spain before the 15th century.

Below you’ll find a video with one of the versions, and here is a PDF I created with the lyrics Ocho Kandelikas  available now on my TpT store.  I printed and laminated a set of these to sing along the video. 

To reinforce this newly acquired knowledge, I also ordered these two books that I’m planning to read as soon as they arrive. Click on the image to go to the link in Amazon. 


I’m trying my best to decolonize my teaching and create an inclusive classroom that reflects the beautiful complexity of the Hispanic Community.

What are you doing to make your WL classes more inclusive?

PS: After this week,  we will also be exploring the ‘Christian’ customs that are actually rooted in Pagan traditions, and even though I’m also teaching Navidad, Posadas, and Three Kings, we are also exploring the indigenous traditions that accompany these celebrations in some Latinx countries.

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