Connecting students and activating background knowledge are both important components of teaching students of Latin American origin and American children as well. One way Rayito de Sol Spanish Immersion Early Learning Center connect with students is by understanding the cultural knowledge we bring with them into our classroom, including the stories, proverbs, and legends they’ve learned. Many of these stories may be different from the stories we learned as a child, or the tales that American children hear today. By learning a little about the folklore of Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, etc children will better understand our culture and they will know more about our background knowledge.
For instance, Latinos, we have a strong oral tradition, in which knowledge is passed down through generations via storytelling and the use of proverbs. Oral culture is shared during work and leisure time, both inside and outside the home. Often, it imparts a lesson or tradition from the older generation to the younger. For example, older relatives may convey information to young family members about roles within the family, concepts of masculinity and femininity, and values and expectations, all through sharing stories and proverbs that have a moral or central message of their culture on a daily basis, including Mexican folklore.
Using Latin American folklore as we teach can also help us to tie our instruction to latino students background knowledge. Many of our American students will share a body of cultural knowledge in which we may also be well-versed. For example, most American-born children know the stories of the Three Bears, Sleeping Beauty, and Hansel and Gretel, but Mexican-born students may not share that knowledge. By learning the stories that our students do know, we can incorporate that knowledge into our lessons and avoid frequent use of stories and proverbs that as a Latinos may not be familiar with. Of course, using American and European folklore in the classroom is also important, teachers are aware that they may need to scaffold that knowledge for students who don’t have a Latin American cultural background.
At Rayito de Sol sharing our folklore is important for students who aren’t of Latino background; it increases knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. Students will love hearing the vibrant and new stories gathered from Latin American folklore, and will better understand our cultural knowledge. By presenting Latin American Folklore in Rayito de Sol Spanish Immersion classroom, we are signaling to all students that it’s a valuable subject to learn about, as we expanding the background knowledge of Latin American culture.