Greeting Cards in Hispanic Culture

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Christine Harrington
Plumstead Christian School

Governor’s Institute For World Languages, 2005

Greeting Cards in Hispanic Culture

Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School

2 Lesson Plan Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School

Las Tarjetas (Greeting Cards) Spanish Level III Overview:
This lesson plan is a weeklong component of a large unit on the Hispanic consumer. The general focus of the unit concerns the growing influence that Latinos are having on product development and commerce in the United States as well as in Latin America. The Spanish speaking population in the United States has increased dramatically over the past two decades, bringing this previously ignored group new political and economic clout. Major U.S. corporations realize that it is in their best interests to develop new products that are geared to the Hispanic consumer. The greeting card is one example of a product that has been adapted to appeal to the tastes and reflect the cultural norms of Latinos. Like many products, the greeting card is not an original part of Hispanic culture but it has been “adopted” by Spanish speakers and is now widely used throughout these communities in the United States. This lesson plan is designed for a class of 21 students in Level III Spanish. Students should be familiar with conversational Spanish and should have previous knowledge regarding aspects of Hispanic culture including holidays and traditions.

In the target language, students will be able to: • Express a variety of sentiments both orally and in writing that are appropriate for a Hispanic audience • Demonstrate an understanding of Hispanic cultural perspectives as they relate to expressions of congratulations, sympathy, celebrations, humor, etc. • Compare and contrast greeting cards found in North American culture to those found in Hispanic culture • Create Spanish language greeting cards manually and via the internet for a variety of occasions

Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School


Standards Addressed:
Standard 1.1 Communication: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions. Standard 1.2 Communication: Students understand and interpret spoken and written Spanish on a variety of topics. Standard 2.2 Cultures: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives in Hispanic culture. Standard 3.1 Connections: Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through Spanish. Standard 4.2 Comparisons: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons between Hispanic cultures and their own. Standard 5.1 Communities: Students use Spanish both within and beyond the school setting.

• • • • • • Spanish language greeting cards representing a variety of occasions including holidays exclusive to Latino culture English language greeting cards for comparison Vocabulary list of key words and phrases Craft supplies including construction paper, scissors, glue, colored pencils, etc. Clip art on a variety of subjects Internet access for e-card websites:,,

Day 1: Introduction to Topic/ Preparation
• • • A variety of contemporary greeting cards in Spanish One or two greeting cards in English 3 x 5 cards

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Introduction (5 minutes): Students are given the following possible scenarios involving Hispanic people who speak only Spanish: • A Cuban friend is celebrating her 15th birthday. • A co-worker’s grandfather has passed away. You would like to send a card to his family in Puerto Rico. • Your friend from Mexico has a new baby boy and she would like you to help her send out birth announcements to her relatives. Each student will create a personal greeting card for a situation similar to those outlined above. (Pre-made cards from the Internet or a store may not be used.)

Brainstorming (20 minutes): Class discussion opens with a series of questions about greeting cards in North American culture. Some questions may include: ¿Para qué se usa las tarjetas? ¿Cuándo se da una tarjeta? ¿Por qué? 1. Working individually, students are then asked to list (on a 3 x 5 card) as many occasions as they can think of where greeting cards may be given in the United States. Encourage students to think of holidays that are unique to the United States. 2. Working in pairs or triads, students share what they wrote. They are then asked to list on another 3 x 5 card, the occasions that are important in Hispanic culture (activating prior knowledge). Many of these will be the same as in American culture however students should think of some holidays that are unique to the Hispanic world. 3. The whole class shares their lists. The teacher supplies the Spanish translations for unfamiliar terms as needed. Students should begin a vocabulary list of new terms. Predictions (15 minutes): Students receive a list of statements about greeting cards as they relate to Hispanic culture. The students may refer to past lessons about Latino culture and/ or Hispanic television commercials or even what they may have seen in the greeting card aisle at the drugstore. They are asked to predict whether the statements are true or false: Example: Statement Prediction Answer Los latinos prefieren comprar las tarjetas con el color muy fuerte (en vez de los tonos pasteles) After the initial prediction, a selection of Spanish language greeting cards is shown to the students. Based on the graphics (pictures, colors, etc.) of the cards, students will decide if they should adjust their initial predictions or not. At this point, students should not be reading the cards.
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Day 2: Comprehension/Understanding the Cultural Context
Materials: • A variety of Spanish language greeting cards in envelopes. Each card should be geared to a particular audience: ex: 12 year old boy’s birthday, get-well card for co-worker, anniversary card for wife, etc. • Overhead transparencies of personal profiles of people corresponding to greeting cards • Copy of Online Interview: “How to Succeed In Writing Spanish-Language Greeting Cards…” Activities: Pre-Viewing Warm-up (5 minutes): Working in groups of three, students are asked to write down words that describe details of imagery and words or phrases that they would expect to find on Spanish greeting cards. Some examples may include the following: dibujos de animals, globos, un pastel, velas, flores, números Palabras/frases: felicidades, feliz cumpleaños, fiesta, alegre, navidad, disfrutar (This exercise is an extension of the brainstorming session from Day #1 but it is exclusively in target language.) Group Exercise (25-35 minutes): 1. After the brainstorming session, each group is given a card in an unmarked envelope. On an overhead transparency or written on the board, are profiles of people who match each of the greeting cards. Ex.: Señora Luisa Fernandez 75 años Tiene un hijo, dos hijas y diez nietos Es viuda. Vive con su hijo en Nueva York 2. One member of the group removes the card from the envelope and holds it up. Without opening the card, the group attempts to guess its recipient from the profiles on the overhead. 3. The group switches cards until every group has seen all of the cards. 4. The whole class shares their results and gives reasons for their choices in the group discussion. Students are given copies of an interview (in English) to read as homework. It addresses the growing market for Hispanic language greeting cards. Students are given the following question to consider for discussion: ¿ Por qué es importante que una compañía haga una investigación sobre los gustos de la cultura latina antes de producir un producto nuevo?

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Day 3: Interpretation of Material
Material: • Greeting cards from previous day’s lesson • Copies of all of the greeting cards for each student (4 greeting cards can fit on one sheet of paper using both sides) • Vocabulary list of key words and phrases (in Spanish only) Activities: Exercise: 1. Students assemble in groups of three and each group is given one of the cards from the previous day’s activity. Each student in the group receives copies of all the cards. 2. Working together and only with the original card at their table, the group skims the graphics and text of the card to identify the key themes and meanings. Each student takes notes on his copies, underlining and making notations as she sees fit. 3. After the initial skimming, the group reads the card and tries to get as many details as possible in terms of specific meaning and sentiment. 4. When prompted, the groups exchange cards. The exercise is repeated until all groups have read and discussed all the cards. 5. Vocabulary lists are distributed with key words and phrases from all the cards that are represented in the class. 6. The whole class reviews the vocabulary list and the students provide the meanings using Spanish synonyms instead of English translation where possible. Post-Exercise Discussion: • Students discuss the similarities and differences that they observe between English and Spanish language greeting cards. The article that was read for homework is also discussed. • Each student is asked to draw a number to choose the profile and situation of an individual for whom they will be creating a card. • Each student will begin preparing the layout and content of the card at home. They will need to have the copy written and appropriate imagery selected for the next day’s class.

Days 4 & 5: Application/Creating a Greeting Card
Materials: • Layout (including written text) • Craft materials and clip art as needed for card construction • Internet access to create card online

Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School

7 Activities: 1. Students begin final card project. During set-up, the teacher reviews the text and corrects any grammatical errors. If the content is inappropriate or very awkward, this is discussed with student. Students may work together and share information, but all conversation must be in the target language only. 2. The teacher acts as facilitator during this session. The students will be expected to complete their cards in class.

3. Students who finish quickly will be able to create an electronic greeting in Spanish for the person of their choice.

Day 6: Extension/Sharing and Comparing Cards
Materials: • Final hand-made cards • Hard copy of e-cards or, if possible, projection screen for class to view electronic cards online. Activity: 1. Students share their cards and tell the stories behind them. 2. The class provides feedback and votes on a variety of categories: funniest, most artistic, most sentimental, most original, etc. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to create cards and share them with members of the Latino community through a local church outreach. This is optional and may be done for extra credit.

Assessment Strategies: The primary goal of this lesson plan goes beyond merely finding the proper words and images to create a greeting card in Spanish. Students, who appreciate the importance of cultural awareness as essential for proper communication, possess a powerful tool that has many applications in this increasingly diverse world. The greeting cards themselves are a partial indicator of ability and understanding. The presentation of the cards also indicates that the student is able to interpret the material and apply it using appropriate language and imagery. A multiple-choice quiz listing possible scenarios and responses is another way to gauge understanding.

Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School



Text- How to Succeed Writing Spanish-Language Greeting Cards… Interview with Susana Baughman, Spanish Language Editor

Text/Images: Alma Greeting Cards Alfred Mainzer Card Long Island City, NY 11101

Vocabulary List quinceañera primorosa tierno amparo fortaleza auxilio querida amistad amiguitos desear derramar sabiduría hogar bendición la despedida de soltera bondad

Christine Harrington Plumstead Christian School