Instructor Guide

Comunidades is an open-access curriculum for first-semester Spanish students focused on teaching novice-level students about and through the Spanish speakers who live, work, and thrive in their communities.

The Comunidades philosophy

The organization of this text may seem strange to those instructors who are accustomed to more traditional textbooks that focus on structures in isolation first and then conclude with more integrated and culturally focused activities. Since the impetus to write this book has come from our desire to teach the Spanish language through exposure to the richness and vitality of Spanish-speaking cultures and the Spanish speakers who form part of our university communities, we have placed emphasis on exposing students to:

1. Native speakers and native language usage. Rather than tailoring the content to privilege the vocabulary and structures we think are important, we have instead oriented the text toward providing the scaffolding students need to access, interpret, and interchange with native speakers and authentic texts.

2. A rich variety of input. We know that students will acquire Spanish as a new language through their meaningful interaction with input in that target language. To that end, each chapter has multiple interpretive activities that are sequenced to show students how language and structures are used and allow them to engage with those structures in context.

3. Communicative activities. In every chapter, we provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational communication. Since these are the most important activities to foment acquisition, instead of separating them into their own section at the end of each chapter, they are interspersed throughout the book. Interpretive activities, interpersonal activities, presentational activities, cultural reflection activities, and cultural research activities are all identified by a callout in the margin. We suggest you dedicate class time to exploring and carrying out these activities, since they will be what promotes proficiency in Spanish for your students.

4. Cultural products and practices to work toward an understanding of cultural perspectives. Especially in the variety of interpretive activities, but also through the “Tira cómica,” “¿Te fijaste que…?,” and “Ampliación,” we seek to expose students to the diversity of cultural products and practices that enrich our world.

How to assess student progress using Comunidades

Each chapter ends with at least one complete Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA), which is a three-part assessment that provides students an opportunity to both demonstrate what they know and continue to learn throughout the assessment process. The first part, the interpretive task, asks students to use a variety of strategies and demonstrate skills to interpret a text, including guessing meaning from context, identifying key words, identifying supporting details, identifying the main idea, describing the author’s perspective, and making a personal connection with the text. Next, students complete an interpersonal task in which they are given a conversational topic and a task to complete within the conversation. Finally, with the knowledge gained from the interpretive and interpersonal tasks, they complete a presentational task either orally or in writing in which they present specific personal content to the class. Chapters 1 and 2 ease students into the process by providing contrived texts at their level for the IPA. Chapter 3 helps bridge the gap using an authentic infographic as the main text. Chapters 4 and 5 present two options for the IPA, one with a contrived text and one using an authentic text. Instructors should feel empowered to use parts of the IPAs as practice, interspersing them into class as content for daily lessons and as formative and/or summative assessments.

Chapter structure

Each chapter follows the same structure.

  1. Tira cómica—Brings vocabulary and structures to life by presenting them in the context of the Midwest college student experience.
  2. ¿Te fijaste que…?—Allows students to explore their prior knowledge, confront stereotypes, and make connections by asking them to explore cultural practices and perspectives in the Spanish-speaking world and reflect on similarities and differences across cultures.
  3. Ampliación—Provides contemporary examples of the modern cultural products and practices in the Spanish-speaking world, extending “traditional” cultural content and exposing students to the modernity of the Hispanic world.
  4. Vocabulario—Exposes students to key lesson vocabulary and provides structured practice, moving from self-corrected homework activities to tasks that ask students to use the vocabulary to communicate personal meaning.
  5. Video entrevistas—Puts vocabulary and structures in context and requires students to interpret real individuals’ sharing of personal information related to lesson topics.
  6. Gramática—Explains target structures, provides examples, and guides students through application from structured responses and other self-corrected activities for out-of-class practice to open-ended, communicative tasks to use in class.
  7. Evaluación—Presents an IPA created from a modified or authentic text. IPAs are three-part assessments that evaluate students’ performance and proficiency in the three modes of communication related to the chapter topic. IPAs require students to interpret a text, engage in a meaningful conversation connected to the text for a specific purpose, and complete a presentational writing or speaking task to demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency.
Capítulo 1—¡Soy yo! Capítulo 2—Mis amistades Capítulo 3—Mi familia Capítulo 4—Mi comunidad Capítulo 5—Mi universidad
Communicative goals 1. Greet, meet, and introduce individuals and say good-bye.

2. Exchange basic personal information.

1. Describe daily activities.

2. Make plans with friends.

3. Express likes and dislikes.

1. Describe families.

2. Share feelings.

3. Elaborate and clarify information by asking follow-up questions.

1. Identify and describe places in the community.

2. Ask for and give directions.

3. Make purchases.

4. Express agreement and disagreement.

5. Offer recommendations and opinions.

1. Ask and answer questions about your field of study and courses.

2. Express opinions about classes.

3. Give advice to fellow students.

Cultural goals 1. Learn appropriate behavior when meeting someone from a different culture.

2. Understand how people from different Hispanic cultures greet one another and the courtesy expressions expected on a day-to-day basis.

3. Begin to form cultural sensitivity that will transform into cultural competence.

1. Compare and contrast activities that young people in different parts of the Hispanic world enjoy and consider entertainment.

2. Compare and contrast climates and the months in which different regions of the world experience their seasons.

1. Compare and contrast the makeup of families.

2. Review what families do when they spend time together.

3. Explore the relative importance of families in different cultures.

1. Research and present on notable places in the Spanish-speaking world.

2. Become familiar with and compare different currencies in the Spanish-speaking world.

3. Compare and contrast aspects of Spanish-speaking communities and students’ home communities.

1. Compare and contrast different educational systems and practices.

2. Explore educational offerings in other countries.

Tira cómica Meet Ana and follow her as she greets and meets friends and acquaintances at home and on her university campus. Ana and Carlos spend the afternoon together and discuss their hobbies and favorite activities. Ana invites Carlos to spend Sunday at her house with her family. Ana goes to the farmers’ market and shares a coffee with her neighbor, Señora Martínez. Ana and her friend Pablo discuss their math class. Ana offers Pablo some advice.
¿Te fijaste que…? La cortestía en el mundo hispano

• Greetings and good-byes

and usted

• Los besos

Los pasatiempos en el mundo hispano

• Las actividades de los jóvenes

• El fútbol

• The metric system

• El paseo

• Public transportation and urbanization

• Climate

Las familias en el mundo hispano

• La composición familiar

• Uso de tú y usted entre familia

• Los padrinos

• La unidad familiar

• Linguistic comparisons of relational categories

Las comunidades en el mundo hispano

• Las tiendas y la práctica de comprar

• La cortesía en las tiendas

• Las plazas y su calendario cultural

• La identidad colectiva

La educación en el mundo hispano

• El sistema escolar

• Sistemas de evaluación

• Grade inflation and el examen de admisión

Ampliación La diversidad hispana

• Preconceived notions about Spanish speakers and the Hispanic world

• Diversity in the Spanish-speaking world

La comunicación virtual

• “Traditional” hobbies versus high-tech hobbies

• WhatsApp, social media, and streaming

El tamaño de la familia

• Housing in urban and rural environments

• Modern cities and public transport

Las entregas al domicilio

• Traditional markets versus modern shopping

• Online shopping and las entregas al domicilio

El papel de la universidad

• Differences in university life and perspectives on the value of a university

Vocabulario • Greetings and good-byes

• Courtesy expressions

• Introducing oneself and others

• High-frequency words and phrases

• Days, months, and seasons

• Expressions to make plans

• Regular verbs

• Key nouns

• Weather and time expressions

• Question words

• Irregular verbs

• The family

• Descriptive adjectives for physical characteristics

• Descriptive adjectives for personality

• Possessive adjectives

• Question words

• Stem-changing verbs

• Emotions and feelings

• Places

• Additional vocabulary related to the community

• Prepositions

• Making recommendations

• Phrases that indicate agreement or disagreement

• Direct object pronouns

• Places on campus

• Areas of study

• People on campus

• Additional vocabulary related to the college experience

Video entrevistas • ¿Cómo te llamas?

• ¿De dónde eres?

• ¿Cuál es tu estación del año favorita?

• ¿Cómo es el clima en tu país?

• ¿Cómo es tu familia?

• Diferencias familiares

• ¿Cómo es tu comunidad?

• El Día del Amor y la Amistad

• La Navidad en México y Argentina

• ¿Qué estudias?

• ¿Cómo son tus clases?

• ¿Qué le recomiendas a otro estudiante?

Gramática 1-A. The verb form hay

1-B. Cardinal numbers

1-C. Gender and number of nouns

1-D. Definite and indefinite articles

1-E. Indefinite articles

1-F. El verbo ser

2-A. Regular verbs

2-B. ¿Qué hora es? Telling time

2-C. El verbo ir

2-D. El futuro inmediato: Ir + a + infinitive

2-E. Expressing likes and dislikes: The verb gustar

2-F. Making plans: Accepting and declining invitations

3-A. Los adjetivos descriptivos

3-B. Los adjetivos posesivos

3-C. Communicative strategy: Forming questions in Spanish

3-D. The verb estar

3-E. Stem-changing verbs

4-A. The verb estar to express location

4-B. Estar para condiciones

4-C. Los mandatos

4-D. Vosotros commands

4-E. Object pronouns: Avoiding repetition

4-F. Estrategias de comunicación: Expressing agreement and disagreement

4-G. Asking for and expressing opinions and recommendations: ¿Qué piensas?

5-A. El presente progresivo

5-B. Ser versus estar resumen

5-C. Pronombres de complemento indirecto

5-D. Verbos como gustar

Evaluación Interpretive task

Comprehend an introduction statement.

Interpersonal task

Learn basic information about a peer.

Presentational task

Present yourself to the class.

Interpretive task

Interpret a description of a typical week in Buenos Aires with Carlos.

Interpersonal task

Share hobbies and make plans.

Presentational task

Explain how you spend your time.

Interpretive task

Interpret an infographic about the values of Mexican families.

Interpersonal task

Discuss roles and responsibilities of different family members.

Presentational task

Present the unique attributes of your family.


Interpretive task

Interpret a letter from Ana’s neighbor Señora Martínez about Mercado el Carmen.

Interpersonal task

Discuss and make decisions about where you will go clothes shopping.

Presentational task

Research and present on a market or store.


Interpretive task

Interpret an article about the neighborhood Coyoacán.

Interpersonal task

Plan a visit to Coyoacán with a friend.

Presentational task

Write a postcard to a friend about your visit to Coyoacán.


Interpretive task

Interpret an email from Pablo to the university registrar.

Interpersonal task

Discuss fields of study, classes, and academic interests.

Presentational task

Email a prospective student who is interested in your field of study.


Interpretive task

Interpret information about La Universidad de Salamanca.

Interpersonal task

Help a friend decide whether to live in a dorm or at home.

Presentational task

Write a letter of application to be an RA.

How to use this book

We suggest assigning readings in English, including cultural readings and grammar and vocabulary explanations, along with the auto-graded and controlled practice activities as homework and using class time for the called-out interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational activities. Activities are numbered by chapter and individual activity (e.g., 1.19 for chapter 1, activity number 19), and grammar (and sometimes vocabulary) points are labeled by chapter and letter (e.g., 1-A for chapter 1, point A).

Retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute

Remember that this is an open educational resource that you may revise, remix, and redistribute as fits your needs. As the Comunidades community grows, we hope to publish additional resources, supplementary materials, and edits. We welcome any and all questions, comments, additions, and corrections.

Yuriko Ikeda and Julia Baumgardt


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Comunidades by Yuriko Ikeda and Julia C. Baumgardt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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