unit is an introduction to basic human and physical geography, with a
focus on topics that will prepare students specifically to study issues
in immigration. It is assumed that students who study this unit will
have had some exposure to geography and social studies in their first
language; these lessons serve as review of basic concepts and an
overlay of new second-language vocabulary.
Geography as a
discipline is characterized by a spatial approach to description and
problem solving, with a crucial emphasis on the notion of mapping, or
representing data in graphical or other non-linguistic formats. In this
unit, students will engage in activities that require them to
"translate" personal and new content information expressed in Spanish
to maps and diagrams, and vice versa, consolidating their language
proficiency and building their understanding of how information is
represented and presented. Specifically, the lessons lead students to
answers to the following key questions:
- What is our basic environment like: climate, geography, population?
- What connections are there between our physical environment and the economic activity in a region?
- How do urban and rural lifestyles differ?
answering these questions, students will learn to describe a variety of
contexts in which humans live, both physically (terrain, weather, etc.)
and in terms of social organization and economic activity (urban versus
rural settings). In each case, students are encouraged to personalize
the information, either by expressing their own reality or by viewing
another’s reality through a character’s perspective. This approach
should make the new information more engaging for students at all
The specific examples used in the activities are
based on the U.S. state of Oregon, but maps and demographic information
for other states are available on the Internet or in libraries.
Teachers should be able to use these activies as templates for
personalizing materials for their students' own context.
will (1) write a descriptive letter to the Spanish classmates in Oregon
while on an imaginary trip to Mexico, and (2) prepare a presentation in
Spanish on their state/region for a professional delegation of visitors
from Mexico. In both activities, studentss synthesize the demographic,
economic, and physical geographical features studied in the unit in
detailed descriptions and comparisons between their state and Mexico.