Friday, November 15, 2013

Guatemala Culture Report

The Country of Guatemala
By Caitlyn Hetzel
                Guatemala is a country of interesting history, people, animals, and productions. It is a country of volcanoes, mountains, and beaches on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. From the Cuchamatán  Mountains in the western highlands, to the coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, this small country is marked by contrasts. Three of Guatemala's 30 volcanoes are still active.
            Pacaya volcano located near Guatemala City is the most active volcano. Lake Atitlan formed when a volcano exploded over 84,000 years ago and collapsed to form a caldera. The lake is the deepest lake in Central America and is believed to be 900 feet deep and covers 48 square miles.

Pacaya Volcano
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            Only slightly larger than the U.S. state of Tennessee, Guatemala is a mountainous country with one-third of the population living in cool highland villages. The coastal lowlands are warm and humid. The country is bordered by Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize.
            High in the mountains in the misty cloud forests lives the colorful quetzal bird. In the bright sunshine, both the male and female quetzal bird have vibrant green, white, and red feathers, but only the male has the fabulous long tail that can measure 3 feet long.

Quetzal Bird in Flight
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            The ancient Maya people believed that the quetzal bird was the living form of the god Quetzalcoatl. Today the rare bird is listed as endangered due to destruction of tropical rain forests. The cloud forest mist provides a water source to air plants known as bromeliads which cling to tree trunks. The forest floor is also home to orchids, ferns, and mosses. The lowland Petén region in the northeastern part of the country is home to many plants and animals including, jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, mule deer, and the ocelot.
            Archaeologists believe that the earliest settlers to Guatemala crossed the Bering Strait from Asia 14,000 years ago and evidence of human settlements date to around 9000 B.C. People began to farm and form villages around 1000 B.C. and some of them became the Maya who dominated Guatemala history from A.D. 250 to 900.
            The Maya temple at Tikal was built over 1,300 years ago as a tomb to honor the Maya ruler, Ah Cacaw. Tikal, once an expansive city and home to 100,000 people, began to decline in A.D. 850, and was abandoned about 50 years later. The ruins were not discovered until 1695.

Maya Temple at Tikal National Park
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            In the 16th century, the Spanish invaded and fought the largest remaining group called the Quiché. The Quiché were overpowered and forced to work on vast estates in the newly established colony of New Spain. In 1821, Guatemala claimed independence from Spain.
            The Maya civilization was very advanced in math and astronomy. The Maya probably developed the concept of zero and left written records using hieroglyphics and whole words. While historians are not sure why the Maya Empire collapsed, the Maya society began to shrink in the 10th century and split into separate groups. They may have suffered from overpopulation and the effects of drought.
            Maya women continue to weave brightly colored cloth and fashion the same traje, or suit, that their ancestors wore. More than half of the population is indigenous. The largest of the 20 Maya groups, the Quiché, live near the city of Quetzaltenango, called Xela (SHEH-la) by the locals.

Guatemalan Textiles
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            Many believe that the name Guatemala comes from the Maya word Guhatezmalh, that described the volcano near the old capital in Antiqua, the "Mountain That Vomits Water." Today the volcano is simply called the Volcan de Agua, "Volcano of Water."
             Decades of civil war and repression of the indigenous people killed hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans in the 20th century. In 1996, a new president, Alvaro Arzu, signed a peace agreement with rebels and ended the 36-year civil war. A new constitution in 1986 established three branches of government. The president serves for only one term and is assisted by a vice president and the Council of Ministers. New laws are passed by Congress. President Alvaro Colom Caballeros was sworn in January 2008. 
            Guatemala's economy boomed in the 1870s thanks to coffee exports. Wealthy landowners pushed Maya communities off their land to make way for more coffee plantations. And we all know that coffee and sugar go hand in hand. They produce 52.84% of the sugar supply in the world. In addition to coffee and sugar, Guatemala is known for their plethora of bananas. Today, they ship out more than $300 million bananas to the U.S. alone. Guatemala is a country of interesting history, people, plants, animals, and productions.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SER vs. ESTAR--Midterm Review for Beginning Spanish

Over the next few weeks I will be posting videos to help my Beginning Spanish students with reveiw for their upcoming midterm exam!  You can learn along with us or, in the comments below, suggest your own videos or ideas for review of the current grammar points.  Or just give them a shout-out below for studying hard!

Practice for SER vs. ESTAR
Watch all of the following videos and follow the comment prompts below.

1.  Ser or estar? [Speaking Spanish]

a.  What are the categories the profesora in the first video gives for SER?
b.  What are the categories given in video one for the verb ESTAR?
c.  How would you describe a sqaure mesa versus a square libro?
d.  Where is Thomas from and his family from?
e.  Where is Thomas' mom from?
f.  What time is it in the video?
g.  What is the first fill-in-the-blank answer on Video 2?
h.  What is the second fill-in-the-blank answer onVvideo 2?
i.  What is the third fill-in-the-blank answer on Video 2?
j.  What is the phrase used in Video 3 to help remember the differences between SER and ESTAR and what does each letter stand for?
k.  In video 4, how does the video describe Jorge and what verb is used?
l.  What example does Paralee give to explain using ESTAR for conditions?

Answer two of the above questions in the comments section below.  Be sure not to answer a question that has already been answered.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

As a blogger, one of my favorite things to do is find and follow new blogs--not just about Spanish, but about motherhood, homeschooling, food, fashion to name a few.  One blog I follow, The Domestic Fringe, does a fun bit called "What I Wore Wednesday" where she links up to a link party of lots of bloggers who do the same.  Bascially they talk about the outfit they are wearing for the day, or showcase the outfits they have worn throughout the week.  Well, of course, I thought this would be a fun way for my students to practice talking about clothing, describing things, working on noun/adjective agreement, and using the PAST tense.  So here is the first installment of What I Wore Wednesday in Spanish!

Can you translate the text? Take a shot at it in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Verbs & The Personal "a"--Midterm Review

Over the next few weeks I will be posting videos to help my Beginning Spanish students with reveiw for their upcoming midterm exam!  You can learn along with us or, in the comments below, suggest your own videos or ideas for review of the current grammar points.  Or just give them a shout-out below for studying hard!

Practice Conjugating Regular Verbs
Watch the following videos and follow the comment prompts below.

1.  Conjugating Verbs - Gangnam Style Parody (-AR, -ER, -IR)

Choose two of the following questions to answer in the comments below.  Remember to answer questions that have not already been answered below.

a.  What AR verb did the first video use as an example for conjugating AR verbs?
   In Video 2, what is the English translation of:
b. sentence 1?
c. sentence 3?
d. sentence 4?
e. sentence 7?
   In Video 2, what is the Spanish translation of:
f. sentence 9?
g. sentence 10?
h. sentence 11?
i. sentence 14?
j. sentence 16?
k. sentence 17?
l. sentence 15?
Practicing the Personal "a"

Watch the following video and answer one of the following questions about the Personal "a."  

3.  The Spanish Personal "A" ~ LA "A" Personal del Español

m. How do you say "I want to see the doctor"?
n.  Fill in the blank: "When a person or ________ immediately ________ a verb, it must be introduced by the word "a."
o.  How do you say "I want to see the movie"?
p.  How do you say "She wants to kick the ball"?
q.  How do you say "She wants to kick the cat"?
r.  Do we use the Personal "a" when we call (llamar) an office, school, or pharmacy?  Why or why not?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Definite & Indefinite Articles--Midterm Review for Beginning Spanish

Over the next few weeks I will be posting videos to help my Beginning Spanish students with reveiw for their upcoming midterm exam!  You can learn along with us or, in the comments below, suggest your own videos or ideas for review of the current grammar points.  Or just give them a shout-out below for studying hard!

Listening Practice for Definite & Indefinite Articles
Watch the following videos for practice and review of the definite and indefinite articles.  

1.  Probaditas de Español by Live The Language: Definite and Indefinite Articles

3.  Choose a video from Manuel, study the vocabulary and take the quiz.

For videos 1 & 2, answer one of the following questions in the comments below:

a.  What are the names of the mujeres in the video?
b.  When do they use the definite article?
c.  When do they use the indefinite article?
d.  What are the ladies going to compartir?
e.  How do we know the word for tree in Spanish is masculine?
f.  With what do our articles in Spanish have to agree?

*Note: Please do not answer a question that has already been answered.

For video 3 answer these questions in the comments below:

g.  Which video did you watch?
h.  What was the question?
i.  What did you notice about Manuel's accent?
j.  Where is he from?
k.  Which question on the quiz was hardest for you to answer?
l.  Which words did you have to look up?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nicaragua--Land of Debt, Perseverance & Geographical Wonder

Every year that I teach Spanish, I assign culture projects and reports to my students.  Learning about the people and culture of a language is as important as learning the language itself.  This year I will be sharing with you on the blog, the projects and reports from my students.  The work is all their own, only edited for puncuation and grammar.  I am sure they would love your comments and support, and any knowledge of the country or subject you may be able to add!  

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Rarely does anyone give the struggling country of Nicaragua any thought. They struggle economically due to natural disasters and the like. In the past, groups of dictators or specific political parties have dominated the Republic in Nicaragua. Despite the strife, the country still offers vibrant scenery, a characteristic of Central America, and a mysterious mountain top. Don’t cross off Nicaragua from your vacation list just yet.
Nicaragua functions consistently like the other Central American countries. In September 1821, the Nicaraguans gained independence and later enacted a republic form of government. As their official language, they speak Spanish. Predominantly, the people of Nicaragua claim to be Roman Catholic. The population count, as of July 2005, reached 5,465,100 which still ranked them as the largest and most sparsely populated country in Central America. If measured against a state in the U.S., New York would come the closest. Bordering Nicaragua, Honduras lies to the north and Costa Rica covers her flank. On each side, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea churn and rumble. Sandy beaches run up and down the east side of the country, and bubbling volcanoes smoke along the west coast. Tropical valleys, enigmatic mountains, and a memorable lake all compile together in the middle with the capital Managua.  Nicaragua has catastrophic debt. It accumulated to such a tragic number; they qualified for a debt reduction by the sum of $4 billion. Besides their massive debt, Nicaragua similarly resembles its neighboring countries.

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Nicaraguan history spins a tale of dictators and a fight for peace. Their name came from the dominant native tribe who lived there when the Spanish discovered Nicaragua in 1522. The people of Nicaragua declared independence in 1821, but they established themselves as an Independent Republic in 1838. After a few assassinations and a short civil war, the group Sandinista Guerrillas overthrew the harsh family, the Somozas that had been previously running the country. They were no better. With the help of a war, the Sandinista Guerrillas were overthrown in 1981, and free elections were held on Nov. 4, 1984. Sadly that did not halt corrupt leadership, however Nicaragua has taken positive steps. Just as Nicaragua undertook the process of rehabilitation, hurricane Mick, which left 2 million homeless and killed 9,000, struck the country. Now Nicaragua remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The story depicts a struggling republic that creditably persists.

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Mystery surrounds the mountain of Mogotón. Set on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua, Mogotón reaches the highest point in the nation. In the 80s, the Sandinistas activated mines which still remain on the mountain. Stories arose about people sustaining injuries or even dying due to the mines: “Si te Atreveis, no volveríes.” (If you have the guts to go you will never return.), the saying went. Truthfully mines do exist on the mountain; however, some locals know a safe route that leads to the top. During the week, sweeps are made for old mines and they are detonated in controlled circumstances. Swindlers, who charge the worth of an heirloom, lead unsuspecting marks up a phony path, so check for a four-foot-tall border marker to assure you are really at the peak of Mount Mogotón  People view the mountain as an adventure waiting for their gumption.

Little credit does the country of Nicaragua receive. Through the hardships, they have persevered. Their history was dominated by criminal leaders, yet their land still holds its beauty. Nicaragua is a part of God’s vast world worth exploring.
Laurie is a junior in high school.  She enjoys riding horses,
dancing, and taking Spanish classes from
her awesome sister.  Unsure yet of her future, she
anxiously awaits hints from God.  (In other words,
she has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up,
so don't ask her!)

Bibliography, Nicaragua,, November 2, 2013., Nicaragua, November 2, 2013.

Rodriguez, Christina. Cerro Mogotón, Nicaragua,, September 26, 2008, November 2, 2013

Summitbreeze. Climb Mogotón, Break the Myth.,, March 12, 2008. November 2, 2013