Every student in the eighth grade Spanish classes was given the option of attending a five day trip to Valencia, Spain. This opportunity allowed 40 students to experience Spain in a new way that they don’t get to experience in the classroom. The trip lasted from April 17 – 21. Each day, the students traveled through the city, participating in activities and learning new phrases in Spanish.
The trip to Valencia was an opportunity for all Spanish learning pupils to apply the subjects they learned in class to a Spanish speaking environment, where those skills were mandatory. “I would say the purpose of the trip is purely academic, but it’s not really, it’s to get the students involved in activities that we cannot have in the school,” said the trip leader and Spanish teacher, Mr. Carlos Alvarez. “These activities apply what they learn in class so that they can talk to people in the street, other people their age, and it gives them the chance to be culturally immersed in the different activities that we prepared.”
The students got the opportunity to test their Spanish speaking skills in a variety of environments.
One thing that the students especially enjoyed was the different types of food that they got to eat. Each night, they went to a different restaurant and ate tapas, churros, and other native Spanish foods.
During the day, the students also got to experience many different parts of the city and learn about the different aspects of Spanish culture. They visited sites including an orange orchard, where they got to try many different types of citrus fruits. They also went to El Oceanographic, which is a famous aquarium that hosts many different types of aquatic species.
One evening they went to a flamenco show, where the students got to experience traditional Spanish dancing. The students had also previously attended a flamenco lesson, where they learned a bit about the history and basics of flamenco.
Also, the Spanish class students had the opportunity to meet with students from another Spanish school in order to practice their Spanish speaking skills and communicate with Spanish kids their age.
One of the challenges that the teachers faced on the trip was the number of students who went on the trip. In previous years, there have always been fewer than 30 students; however, this year, there were a total of 40 students who travelled to Spain. “We had almost double the amount of students [than last year], so that actually got us into difficult situations such as taking public transportation,” said Mr. Alvarez. “This year, we had to call the city council to let them know that there would be so many [people] riding buses so that they could decide whether to put extra buses on that route and we also had to ask the driver. The driver was entitled to say, “Yes, you may all come into the bus,” or “No, you’re not allowed” which makes things much more difficult because we are on really tight schedules each day and losing one of those buses would have made the whole group late and then the activities would have also been late.”
Throughout the journey, students were required to take notes in a journal that would be submitted for a formative grade at the end of the trip. The journal was meant to be completed fully in Spanish, and students would be graded on the complexity of their writing and comprehensibility of the language. The content of their writing was based on the experiences that the students had during the trip. The writing reflected how well the students were paying attention to the culture of Spain and their surroundings while walking through Valencia.
The Spanish trip to Valencia allowed students to be immersed in the language in order to further the understanding of Spanish customs. By experiencing Spanish culture firsthand, students were able to learn about the different aspects that made Spain unique. Although the trip was not without its challenges, the students were able to lean more in Valencia than they would have been able to in the classroom.