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Immigration: General Introduction
Why Immigration?

This unit is an exciting integration of geography and Spanish on a topic of critical national and local importance around the globe: immigration. Using case studies from Oregon, a state with a substantial Spanish-speaking population and vibrant immigrant communities, students will learn some of the fundamentals of geographical analysis as they plot the growth and settlement patterns of Hispanic populations across the state. Students will explore key important geographical questions:

  • What compels people to uproot themselves from their home culture and reestablish their lives somewhere else?
  • What is the impact of immigration on the places that receive immigrant populations?
  • What is the life of an immigrant like?
Each of these questions can draw students deeper into the issues surrounding immigration, and the customizable activities presented in these units allow teachers to personalize the topics for their students by examining their own local communities. At the same time, students receive linguistic input and produce output on crucial Advanced level language functions such as detailed descriptions, comparisons, and past narration, in addition to recycling lower-level functions (e.g., asking information questions).

Objectives Students will be able to...
  Geogrpahy Standards:
  • describe and compare the physical, human, and cultural characteristics of places
  • describe the distribution of human populations and their changes over time
  • use maps/charts to express spatial relations and to represent demographic and historical data
  Second Language Standards
  • describe and compare location, physical characteristics of places and people
  • narrate in past and present time frames
  • ask information questions

Unit 1: Basque immigration to the western U.S.

This unit examines an interesting and little studied wave of immigration to the US state of Oregon: Basques from northern Spain came to the western US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and established stable communities that are still in existence today. The examination of this group serves as a case study, introducing students to the general phenomena that characterize human migration. Students learn about the basic "push" and "pull" factors that motivate migration and study details of the consequences of displacement on peoples and their communities. Changes in demographics have an impact on every aspect of human activity, language, and culture.

Unit 2: Past and present immigrants from Mexico

Unit 3 examines two waves of immigration from Mexico to Oregon. The first group arrived in the years following the Second World War under the Bracero program. The second group began arriving in the 1980's and continues to the present day. These activities allow student to gain a historical perspective through chronological ordering. Also, they investigate the specific demographic differences between the groups, in terms of occupations held, settlement patterns, and cultural impact on the state.

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