Group Project Idea for a Foreign Language Class: Geography of a Country
written by: Eric W. Vogt
• edited by: Rebecca Scudder
• updated: 8/2/2012
Get intermediate foreign-language students doing research to find data and present it! This brief series will use intermediate Spanish as an example, but it can be easily adapted to any language.
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Lesson Plans for Foreign Language Students: Learning about a Country
This series give you ideas for a group project for your students. They will work in groups of four and investigate different aspects of a country. These are geography, history, economics and culture. Each student in the group will then present a two or three minute presentation on the section they researched- in the language they are learning.
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There is Much More Than Landscape to Talk About
True, but there is so much to talk about when observing the landscape. Students should be assigned; four to each country. One will be responsible for doing research on the geography of the country. In some ways, this is the easier of the four areas, because the vocabulary is easily found and is largely cognate with English (costa, montaña, norte, etc.)
The student assigned to present (orally) the geography of a country should be presented with this format:
1. Give the location of the country in terms of continent and its size in square miles and kilometers. Be sure to use the correct verb to express location (estar);
2. Tell what countries border it, in terms of cardinal directions;
3. What seas or oceans does it lie on? Again, present this in terms of cardinal points;
4. What are the neighboring countries?
5. What are the main geographical features or distinguishing landmarks --- geologically? Is it a mountainous country or a flat one?
6. What is the climate like around the year?
7. What are some natural disasters that the country is prone to? Give at least one example, telling when and where it happened, how many people died.
8. Has the country ever had different borders? (This is last because the next presenter will deal with history and politics).
Students sometimes need a model in order to get a feel for stringing the answers to these question together in a natural way. Rather than give them one, have them put one together about the state in which they live. Do this as a group so as to involve everyone, asking and prompting them to answer the questions above. This can be done in English first, or directly in Spanish, depending on how strong they are. At this level, the formatting level, facts are less important than learning the vocabulary and getting a feel for doing an oral presentation.
The presentation should be delivered orally, in front of the class, with no more information that the student can put on a 3X5 card.
Author's more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish.
Lesson Plans for Intermediate Foreign Language Classes
This series of four articles shows how to use national data of different kinds to move students from the textbook to using their second language to find, assemble and present meaningful information -- in short, to begin to master their second language.