Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Learning Spanish with Bogotá urban messages

Sentences like “Hoy no fío, mañana sí”, (Today I won’t give credit, but tomorrow I will) and “Minuto a 100” (A minute for a 100) and other urban street signs will help teach Spanish to foreigners.

Bogotá D. C., 09 de junio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The student took pictures of the urban popular signage in Bogotá.

The tool can help foreigners who want to learn to speak Spanish.

The researcher toured the Suba and Teusaquillo neighborhoods.

The street signs include food offerings and repairs of all kinds.

The didactical tool shows the Spanish spoken in Bogotá.

This is a didactical unit designed by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Philology and Language Teaching senior Ángela Milena Maldonado, who employed urban artisanal street signs used by salespersons to sell their good or services in Bogotá, to teach foreigners Spanish. 

For her project, Maldonado visited several neighborhoods in Bogotá such as Suba and Teusaquillo, and photographed some of the street signage used in several urban retail stores. 

Later she chose the most frequent signs not manufactured digitally or belonging to corporations or multinational companies. She collected signs relating to food sales and services, such as repairs of all types. 

“This is an intercultural project, in other words it represents the identity of Bogotá and is a didactical tool which shows everyday language spoken in Bogotá,” she said. 

Furthermore the inhabitants of the city take for granted that the signs and signboards are there; they are also related to the culture and the current forms of expression despite new technological tools. 

After observing the pictures gathered, they were shown to students of a certificate course on Spanish as a Foreign Language and stemming from their opinions they chose the contents which were useful to teach communicational skills. 

According to the students, the signs demand attention due to the vivid drawings and illustrations and they are all around town; besides stimulating passersby, it guarantees they will be seen. 

“Taking into account what the students said, we understood that the signs with greater artistic content were more admired by strollers and therefore easier to remember,” said Maldonado. 

The proposal includes a table of contents with the objectives, the linguistic material and the activities which should be performed. The signs are not translated and taken as authentic material presented to foreigners. This motivates them to learn as these signs are made for native language speakers. 

The didactical unit called “¡Buenas!, ¿tiene minutos? Compro bueno, bonito y barato en los negocios de Bogotá”, is divided in a series of tasks. The final goal is for the student to visit the city commerce and effectively purchase and interact with salespeople. 

The first activity is to show the signs and identify the places where they are displayed. Show the sales vocabulary and determine the places such as bakeries or barber shops and become cognizant of which products or services each shop has to offer. 

Afterwards they are asked to make a shopping list and identify the locations they need to visit to purchase each product. The unit also includes linguistic content, such as how to conjugate verbs and buy and sell in present indicative. 

The tool designed to teach A1 Spanish level also has a cultural tidbit which explains sentences such as “se vende”, “se hace”, “sí hay” and the meaning of the following expressions: “las vueltas” or “el sencillo”. 

“Learning what each sign says is a challenge for the students and motivation for class, this is something of the reality of Bogotá which cannot be taught in any book,” said the student.

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 879

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