- Peer Review: Mexico para niños
Mexico para niños
- Dec 31, 2005 by World Languages
- The site, which is provided by the Mexican government, is one of the richest
content-based sites on Mexican culture designed for use by young native
speakers. Nonetheless, the material is ideal in teaching Spanish language and
Mexican culture to any learner regardless of age.
The user will find information and activities on history, geography, music,
legends, games,and gastronomy. The site also provides a monthly magazine,
"La Tija," that includes similar topics of interest.
- Type of Material:
- Recommended Uses:
- This site is especially beneficial for an overview of Mexican culture, history,
and current events. It is ideal for developing reading skills using authentic
materials in bilingual and immersion programs, and also foreign language k-14
- Technical Requirements:
- Real Player amd Macromedia Flash Player. A broadband Internet connection is
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- The site is designed for Mexican children to develop pride and knowledge about
their heritage through an overview of Mexican history, government, geography,
- Target Student Population:
- The site's title, México para niños, along with the colorful presentation,
photos, and games, indicates that the target population is young learners, such
as elementary or middle school students. However, 15 of my 17 college Spanish
students found the site appropriate for learners of all ages. Therefore, this
site is ideal for Spanish foreign language learners in 7-14 programs, immersion
and bilingual students in 3-6 programs, and heritage speakers.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
- No prerequisite skills are needed, as versions of the site are presented in
other languages besides Spanish. Students of Spanish should be enrolled in a
beginning Spanish course or higher for the Spanish site. If a user does not
reference the material to another language, e.g., one's native language, the
material can ideally be aimed for reading at an Intermediate reading
proficiency, or for use at a lower reading level when making connections with
the richness of images.
- The authentic materials were designed for young native speakers wishing to
explore Mexico's history, geography, music, legends, games, and food
recipes. From a scientific perspective, learners can also explore biodiversity,
conservation and the ecosystems native to Mexico. The rich content provides for
use in multi-disciplinary settings.
Both the cultural content and the Spanish used are accurate. The written
Spanish was easy to understand, regardless of my learners level of Spanish.
SPA 101 college students described the site as "cute, interesting, colorful,
bright, festive, and awesome." One said the variety of subjects presented was
"impressive." Another said that she "could learn about a few things that we do
not cover in class." A third student said that it is "an exciting alternative
to the traditional methods of learning Spanish." A fourth student said, "The
fact that it is a children's site makes it a great benefit to students new to
the language because it presents material in baby steps and isn't impossible to
read." The most popular sections of the site for these students were
Biodiversity, about Mexico, News, Mexican toys, Mexican traditions, and Mexican
holidays. A few of these learners who are parents visited the site with their
children and both generations enjoyed using the site. The children especially
enjoyed the games. One student stated that children would love the activity
section, where they would get to make things related to what they just learned,
like a volcano, or they could send a card. Another said, "It really shows
children in other countries that we as people are not so very different." This
statement says it all.
- One student suggested that she would have liked the site even better if one
could roll the mouse over or click on a Spanish word and the word's meaning in
English or another language would be shown, instead of having to open the
English site and click back and forth to try to find the meaning of an unknown
word. Two students said that they did not like the games section because there
was little detail or direction given as to how to play the games.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- The material is primarily visual in nature. Learners navigate through sites
that provide a wide variety of information about Mexico, such as its history,
government, geography, population, ecosystems, flora and fauna, traditions,
myths and stories, music, holidays, toys/games. There is also a current
events/news section and a games section.The site allows learners to either
idependently or with parental/instructor guidance interact with the material
through an interactive multisensory exposure, which promotes visual, auditory,
and tactile/kinesthetic activities.
The variety of themes encourages and respects diverse learning via use of
materials representative of the Multiple Intelligences.
The site is also made available in Italian, English and French. Consequently,
if an instructor or student wish to use the native language, e.g., English,
along with the target language of Spanish, it may be beneficial in developing
reading and vocabulary skills. This aspect of the site provides excellent
authentic materials for use in FLEX elementary programs.
The simple and cohesive written text, and use of rich images throughout, create
authentic texts that are ideal reading materials for non-native speakers. The
webpage, Tra la la," incorporates rich folkloric material of "Tradiciones,
Mitos y leyendas, y Cuentos" representative of each state. There are also
audiofiles of traditional music that again represent each state.
The "Fondita" page includes gastronomy from every state in Mexico. A cookbook
is provided with a recipe, its ingredients, and a colorful image for
experimenting with different traditional dishes. An instructor can introduce
the informal "Tu" commands easily employing TPR to work with grammar using this
this ideal cultural context.
If an instructor were to limit the use of the site to the topics of history,
geography, gastronomy, and biodiversity, it would still require an extended
period of time to cover the material. Yet, each page can be presented
independently on its own without reference to other webpages within the site.
An instructor could assign individual sections of the site to students as
homework and then ask them written or spoken questions in Spanish about the site
as follow-up the next class period. Also different sections can be assigned to
different students and have them prepare a class presentation in Spanish to
share with the rest of the class. One of my students thought that the site was
"a good tool to learn and practice Spanish," because "it is good for students to
be immersed in a language" while learning about the culture and history.
Another student said the site could be used in a classroom of learners just
beginning to use the Internet and as a point of departure for starting to learn
a new language. A third student said that the site could be used "to evaluate a
student's competence and ability to read Spanish." A fourth student said many
of the activities could be assigned as either homework or class work. A fifth
student said the site would be a "great at home reference" about Mexico. A sixth student said that it would "help younger students get excited about
Mexican culture and the Spanish language." A seventh student said that it
exposed her "more to Spanish grammar and I think it will help me when I try to
write out my own sentences for class." An eighth student said, "I think that
the history and culture of a country whose language you're studying is an
important thing in understanding that language." Many of these remarks
underscore the importance and ease of teaching language and culture using
- The creative teacher will welcome this rich cultural information, and use the
materials repeatedly. However, the instructor may need to develop
study sheets to accompany the use of the different webpages for use in
synchronous or asynchronous settings, eg., online and hybrid courses.
For some adults, using a children's site may seem insulting, or use of authentic
materials may be pitched too high for beginning learners. For example, two
college students did not like the site at all. One said it was "not the most
educational or appropriate site for a college student who is only a beginner."
These two students thought that the Spanish site was too difficult to understand
and they did not like going back and forth between the Spanish and English
sites. One of these students thought that the information provided was
abbreviated for a child audience.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- The user can generally navigate easily throughout this site. The user is drawn
to explore and engage actively with the site due to the richness of bright
attractive images and colors, motivating learners of all ages. There is a site
map to facilitate locating particular links within the site. Anoather good
technical feature is that links are provided to download needed plug-ins.
Some of the student that used the site reported that the informational parts of
the site were easy to access and use, because of the menu on the left side of
the screen. Anotaher student said the categories were "helpful and well
organized" and the "information was simplified into understandable steps." One
student expressed that "the greatest thing is you don't have to be at school,
you can access it at home." Another student said that the site worked "fine and
dandy" and it "came up fast."
- Eight of the 17 students who visited the site reported technical difficulties of
some sort. A few of the students had trouble getting the games to load and/or
work. One student said that her computer froze when she was moving pieces in
the sliding games. Another said she had to print the games to be able to play
them. One student said she tried to go to the traditional music section and
when she pushed play, there was an error message saying the link could not be
found. Another said that it "took too long for my computer to load." Two
students said that it took a few times for the site to load both at home and
school. One student did not like "constantly going back and forth" to find
additional information. Another student said that when she selected a
subsection, she could not get back to the main menu without having to start over
and reopen her browser and the website.