Capítulo Dos – Kids Get Hooked In

Carta náutica del Caribe

In Chapter Two, the action really gets going. Antonio, a couple of important shipmates (Felipe and Carlos), and Raquel get together to make “the secret plan”. The plan involves lying, breaking the law, and getting rich. Sounds good, huh? We’ll see. I won’t tell you the plan because you really need to buy this book so you can enjoy every plot twist and turn!

In Chapter Two, we find out more and more about the characters–why they do what they do, how they treat people, what’s important to them, etc. This kind of stuff may be the best part of the book for me. The characters are complex and imperfect. Mira doesn’t explicitly state these things. They come out in the characters’ actions. Students begin to identify with the characters, be disgusted by them, find them useless, etc. Now, students have AUTHENTIC reasons to use adjectives to describe the characters. Descriptors start to really matter as students defend the acts or gasp in horror at the things the characters do or say. Way better than “describing myself and the members of my family” on workbook pages. Way better.

ASIDE:  This part makes me cry. My last year’s kids are in seventh grade–one of the “most hooked-into Spanish” groups of kids I’ve ever had. The teacher, who has them now, told me they don’t know anything. When I asked her what she meant, she said, “They don’t know things like adjective agreement.” I disagreed and said that, of course, they do. She agreed, adding, “Well, yes, but they don’t do it correctly in speech.” Restraining my urge to scream very loudly, I reminded her in a neutral voice (she may not actually know this), that “adjective agreement” is very late acquired in Spanish and that no reasonable teacher of beginning students would expect them to be able to do that. She agreed again and said, “Well, I’m just following what other schools are doing. I have to prepare them for the tests they’ll take to go to high school.” I asked whether she’d noticed how well they understood, spoke, read, and wrote Spanish. She said that she had, but that she had to start at the beginning of the textbook because they have to learn that stuff. I truly felt sick. I did some deep breathing, prayed a little, and will stand firm in my knowledge that I am doing the right thing. I no longer feel defensive, just very sad.

In Chapter Two, the quartet (see above) visit the big mercado, dividing up along gender lines to look for things they want:

  • Antonio – una pistola
  • Felipe (the first mate) – un telescopio
  • Raquel – zapatos

Oh, me, oh, my! Wonder of wonders! Antonio finds the pistol he desires (and more). It’s not for sale. However, Antonio is not deterred. Being of an arrogant and superior-feeling nature, he piles enough money on the table to change the seller’s mind. (Motivation/Character lead to logical action). I won’t give away what happens next. I will say that at the end of the chapter one of my students commented, “Wow! Is every chapter going to end with a cliff hanger?” Hmm. Maybe. They’re hooked. More on what we did later.

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3 thoughts on “Capítulo Dos – Kids Get Hooked In

  1. Just had the funniest moment! Native speakers often comment that my Spanish approximates native-fluency. However, when I put the caption on the map just now, I made an “adjective agreement” error. It took me a while to see before I corrected it. I’m sure I make these mistakes every day not being a “real” native speaker. (The errors don’t get in the way of my communication and they are infrequent. )

    Well, I guess it’s back to Spanish 1 for me–until I get it right every time.

  2. Yeah…most of my third-year kids are still using the feminine possessive pronoun to refer to their fathers. Grates on my ears. But guess what…all the fourth-year kids seem to have it. Shows that eventually they get it. I had a room full of Russian speakers listening to my kids talk (on tape, prepping them to judge a contest this week) and guess what…that incorrect possessive pronoun didn’t stand in the way of their comprehension at all. Other things bugged them, but not that.

  3. I came back to this and read it in the light of the sad feeling of the Spanish teacher I observed this week. Her kids are at very different levels in Spanish 2, and yet they can all hang together to talk about the same book. She’s really worried about having left the textbook behind and how their success will be next year. She gets the kids after a year of textbook Spanish and passes them on to a traditional teacher. I am hoping that when we do this, we are still giving them the feeling of success and freedom.

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