Why Be Old School? 5 Tech-powered Spanish Culture Projects Your Students Will Love

Tired of telling your students to put their devices away?

You’re not alone.

But here’s a little secret: with the right resources, those devices can transform from classroom distractions to your new favorite teaching tool.

Your students’ familiarity with online tools and mobile devices can be harnessed for effective, engaging and super relevant Spanish lessons. Even if you’re teaching centuries-old stories or the history of a country thousands of miles away, technology can give your students a close-up view without leaving their desks.

In this post, we’ll show you five exciting Spanish culture lessons that’ll boost their language skills and immerse them in the Spanish-speaking world, all while using the tech tools they already love.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

How to Introduce Culture Lessons to Your Language Classroom

Every Spanish teacher knows that learning about Spanish-speaking cultures is just as important as grammar lessons and conversation practice for our students, but the word “culture” itself can be hard to pin down. Culture is sometimes described as the heart and soul of a people and a place, but what exactly does that even mean? And more importantly, how can we teach that?

The cultures of Spain and Latin America exist in obvious forms like paintings by Frida Kahlo and books by Miguel de Cervantes. But there are also more abstract forms of culture, like oral history, rules of etiquette and regional slang.

Before implementing the specific culture projects listed below, take some time to turn the question of what defines culture into a student-led discussion in your classroom. Ask your students how they define their own personal and national cultures, and what role they believe language plays in that definition.

Aside from providing essential context for any Spanish culture projects you’ve planned, the conversation could even open up more project possibilities than you expected. For example, the students may see television commercials or magazine ads as relevant to a country’s national culture, and they wouldn’t be wrong!

Why Use Technology as a Foundation for Spanish Projects?

  • Students love it. Imagine the joy when you actually require students to use the devices they love in order to learn something and to complete an assignment effectively. These non-traditional teaching tools will get your students thinking and engaging with Spanish in new, creative and highly motivating ways.
  • It emphasizes the relevance of the lessons. Incorporating technology into a Spanish culture project brings the project to life and makes it relevant and accessible to students.

They’ll be learning Spanish via the internet, their mobile devices and other technology that’s already vital to their day to day lives. Plus, technology skills are now life skills, so here’s an opportunity to build those skills alongside language development.

If you and your students are lucky enough to have internet access at home or at school, the first three projects described below will be sure to enhance their learning experience. The last two do require specific apps best used on a computer or tablet device, but they can be tweaked to work with whatever resources you have on hand, even good old pencil and paper.

The projects below are best suited for middle school and high school students, but elements of each could be beneficial to younger students. Cherry pick and adapt as you see fit for your classroom.

5 Spanish Culture Project Ideas for the Tech-savvy Teacher

1. Use Prezi Presentations to Explore Mexican Myth and Folklore

About this project:

Mexican myths and folklore provide a wonderful entry point into Central American culture. Traditional stories and legends tend to cover universal themes and are interesting to students of all ages, but are also accessible even to beginner Spanish learners.

Myths and folk tales also often reveal historical details of a people as well as explanations of natural phenomena that underly important cultural belief systems.

And with Prezi digital presentations, you can bring Mexican myths and folklore into the 21st-century classroom. Downloadable and free to educators with a school email address, Prezi is user-friendly and fun. Students will enjoy the straightforward platform, which was designed to help anybody, even non-artsy types, create beautiful and dynamic presentations.

The resulting presentations are full of action and as many colors and images as students can find and organize.

How to implement:

To get started, you can mine this list of teaching resources from the University of Illinois’ Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies for content that suits your class’ age and proficiency levels.

Depending on the age of your students, you can assign them individual topics (for example, specific legends or Aztec gods) to research or let them select their own, securing a personal interest while they develop their analytical skills.

Specify how much of the written content and oral presentation must be in Spanish as is appropriate to the level you’re teaching.

To use Prezi technology to its best advantage, make sure project guidelines specify:

  • How many slides to include and a timeframe for the presentation.
  • How to cite sources.
  • In what ways the students feel a connection to the particular myth or folk tale.

2. Create Vimeo Skits to Master Slang and Idioms

About this project:

Spanish slang and idioms can be unbelievably colorful and sometimes very playful from an English-speaker’s point of view; no other language describes looking for trouble as poetically as Spanish: No andes buscándole los tres pies al gato. (Don’t go looking for three feet of a cat.)

Intonation and facial expressions go a long way when speaking in any language. You can capture all the interactiveness of a casual chat between classmates on video, and then post it on Vimeo for easy presentation to the rest of the class.

If you have students who are already Snapchatting, Instagramming and filming with their smartphones all day long, this is a great way to put those fun technology skills to use in the Spanish classroom.

How to implement:

Set a minimum number of idioms per skit, as well as parameters for length. Here’s a list of Spanish idioms and here’s some Spanish slang you can use as a jumping off point. You’ll be evaluating students on their pronunciation as well as their ability to use the slang in the proper context.

You can inspire student creativity by having each group choose a prop from a list and require that the conversation involve the prop somehow; possible props include such random items as a pizza, an inflatable baby pool, a coloring book or anything else that might get your students thinking in unusual ways.

Filming with today’s smartphones allows for quick deleting and easy retakes, and the natural humor of young students will surely entertain while educating. No option to incorporate video in your classroom or school? Have students perform their original role plays live in class.

A free basic Vimeo account offers basic privacy provisions, but your school may have an account that includes more advanced settings. To be on the safe side, it might be worth checking with your school before putting student work online; as well, some families may need a bit of reassurance that these videos are for classroom use only.

3. Take Your Students on Adventures Through Argentina with Google Earth

About this project:

Thanks to technology, you can take your students on an adventure to Spanish-speaking regions without buying them all plane tickets. This Google Earth exploration will help them feel the relevance of Spanish outside the textbook. It can be a great learning motivator for those students who may want to one day visit Argentina and other Spanish-speaking countries in person.

You can of course use this project for any country you like—Argentina’s compelling and diverse topography make it a particularly effective subject.

How to implement:

Offer students an opportunity to develop a sales pitch and travel itinerary in Spanish for a fabulous adventure in Argentina. Assign students different regions of the country to research and explore using Google Earth. The grasslands of the Pampas, the majesty of the Andes and the glacial lakes of Patagonia will surely inspire any number of extreme adventuring ideas.

Students will be fascinated by the 3D images on Google Earth. Ask them to create a list of required supplies to ensure their holiday-makers are safe and having fun in their assigned landscapes.

Extend the project with any of the following options:

  • A printed brochure using only formal usted commands
  • A filmed television commercial to present to the class
  • A follow-up questionnaire for customers to find out what they liked and disliked about the trip

4. Explore Pablo Neruda’s Poetry with VoiceThread

About this project:

The poetry of Pablo Neruda is renowned for its passion and originality, as well as its direct and simple language. Students new to literary analysis may find his work refreshingly clear.

His nature imagery in particular is easy to spot, and pre-project classroom discussions around the symbolism of specific images and words can prime students for this kind of advanced study.

VoiceThread is a network that enables students to combine uploaded text with their own voiceovers and text comments. This tool is ideal for literary exploration as students can mark up a text in advance and prepare a statement about the text before actually recording the VoiceThread. Students anxious about standing up in front of the class will also find this kind of project a relief as they can delete and re-record as many times as they need to.

How to implement:

First, create a VoiceThread yourself to demonstrate the tool to students, and so you know how to troubleshoot if they come to class with questions. You can also let students familiarize themselves with the app by assigning a simple practice VoiceThread for homework.

Once students are comfortable with the tool, you can start teaching Neruda’s work. You can assign one poem for all students to recite and/or analyze using VoiceThread, or different poems to different students. You may also want to provide specific questions you’d like students to address regarding the poems.

It’s a great way to get everyone engaged with Spanish literature, across different proficiency levels and learning styles.

5. Complete a Federico Garcia Lorca Play Using Edmodo

About this project:

Advanced students will be up to the challenge of this interactive culture project. Encourage students to embrace creative writing in Spanish; as Lorca died before finishing this play, it’s incomplete.

Students can tap into their creativity and finish the work using a fun digital classroom tool called Edmodo.

How to implement:

Edmodo is a unique technology that closely resembles other social media platforms your students likely know, making it a fun and interactive way to collaborate with you and with one another. You’re in charge of the platform, with the ability to create assignments, post shared classroom resources and communicate digitally. You can post specific questions like these:

  • Who would you cast as the character of Autor (Author)? Find a photograph online, cite your source and explain your decision in 50 words or less.
  • Title the play. Make sure you use one symbol in your title that you feel represents Lorca’s vision and explain your choice.

Students can post their responses for you and for the rest of the class to see. Future assignments can require students to respond to one another’s posts for credit, and you can decide if you would like all comments to be on view. Extend the project with scripts, performances and even reviews.


Travel to Spanish-speaking countries can be a costly privilege. Encourage your students to take flight in their imaginations with culture projects like the ones described above. Hopefully, the projects will pique their curiosity and inspire them to learn more about the language and the people they’re studying. Isn’t this love of learning what motivates us to teach in the first place?

Both you and your students will be rewarded by the processes and the outcomes of these projects. By using technology in an educational way, you and your students are working together to make your classroom a more enjoyable and relevant place of learning.

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