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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Spanish: Fruits of the Americas

Spanish I, grade 4: Teacher Carina Rodriguez combines visual media and multisensory activities in a vocabulary-building lesson about familiar and new fruit. Students learn what country the fruit comes from, try to identify the fruit solely through touch, and taste the fruit to categorize it as sweet or sour.



Carina Rodriguez






The Columbus Academy, Gahanna, Ohio

Lesson Date

November 11

Class Size



40 minutes three times every six days

Video Summary

In this lesson, students learn vocabulary for fruits grown in Latin America. Using iMovie and PowerPoint technologies to illustrate the fruits, Ms. Rodriguez introduces the vocabulary, then has students practice the new words in full-class and pairs activities. Next, the students taste the fruits and discuss whether they are sweet or sour and whether they like them. In a culminating activity, the students make and eat a big fruit salad.

Standards Addressed

Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretive, Presentational

Cultures: Products

Connections: Making Connections


Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES)
This elementary school model organizes instruction around a scope and sequence taught by a qualified foreign language teacher. Its goals include developing language proficiency with an emphasis on oral skills, as well as providing a gradual introduction to literacy, building cultural knowledge, and tying language learning to the content of the early grades’ curriculum. FLES programs vary, especially in the number of meetings per week or minutes per session. See also Foreign Language Exploratory Program (FLEX).

formal assessment
During a formal assessment, all students in a class are evaluated in the same manner. Their examination involves the same content, format (for example, chapter test or oral report), and testing conditions (for example, length of time). Results are reported as a grade or a score and are used to determine individual students’ abilities in a specific area of learning.

Total Physical Response (TPR)
Developed by Asher, Kusudo, and de la Torre (1974), TPR is an approach for teaching vocabulary that appeals to learners’ kinesthetic-sensory system. First, the teacher introduces new vocabulary words and establishes their meaning through corresponding actions and gestures. Students mimic the teacher’s actions as they learn the words, and eventually demonstrate comprehension through the actions and gestures. Ultimately, the language is extended to written forms, and students begin to respond verbally. Research evidence attests to the effectiveness of TPR for learning and retaining vocabulary. See also Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS).

Connecting to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • How do you find out what content your students are studying in other classes, so that you can incorporate it into your language lessons?
  • What kinds of hands-on experiences do you provide for students? How do you incorporate culture into these experiences?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you’ve just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • When planning units, think about including artifacts or experiences that help students learn through their senses of touch, taste, and smell. Because much of language teaching appeals to the senses of sight and sound, when it is possible to use the other three senses, the activities are more likely to be remembered and the vocabulary retained. If your school policy permits, bring in food from a local market or take students to an ethnic restaurant. The experience will be not only enjoyable for students but helpful in their vocabulary study. It can also prepare them for future trips to ethnic restaurants with their family and friends or even for travel abroad.
  • Review a lesson you recently presented, to see if it would be useful and appropriate to incorporate a hands-on activity like Total Physical Response (TPR). When students use gestures to pantomime real actions, they learn the associated vocabulary words and phrases faster and retain them better. Ms. Rodriguez’s students learned the Spanish words for peel, cut, and mix while reading a recipe for fruit salad and then performing those actions in making the salad. Other examples of hands-on activities include creating a board game, making a craft project such as a mask for the holidays Mardi Gras or Fasching, or even conducting a science experiment. Age-appropriate projects for older students can also involve concrete, hands-on activities.


World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages create a roadmap to guide learners to develop competence to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding. This lesson correlates to the following Standards:

Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication

Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Interpretive Communication

Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

Presentational Communication

Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.

Interact with cultural competence and understanding

Relating Cultural Products to Perspectives

Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the products and perspectives of the cultures studied.


Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations

Making Connections

Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and to solve problems creatively.


Lesson Materials
Fruits of the Americas (PDF, 13 K)
Worksheet that students used to record which fruits grow in which countries (Includes English translation)

Fruits: How Are They? (PDF, 14 K)
Worksheet that students used to classify the fruits as sweet or sour and record how they liked the taste (Includes English translation)

Curriculum References
Ohio ‘s Learning Standards for World Languages

Carina Rodriguez’s Additional Resources

Print Resources:
Haas, Mari. The Language of Folk Art. Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 1996.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2