CAPÍTULO 1: EL COMIENZO (The Beginning)

Pre-Activity

A. Introducción

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome! This is the first step in your journey in Spanish via la Red (the Web). In keeping with the overall philosophy of Plazas, the accompanying Web activities are designed to be interactive and immersive, and to stimulate your curiosity about the Spanish language and culture. The Plazas Web activities take place within the framework of an unfolding story, the personal journey of a graduating college student attempting to reconcile his early childhood in Honduras with his adolescence and early adulthood spent in the United States. John Winston is, by all appearances, a typical zoology senior with hopes of landing a research fellowship after graduation. However, his plans are interrupted by a visitor from his past-a girl named Miranda. John and Miranda played together in the small town of Catacamas

Catacamas

when they were six years old. Sixteen years later, he receives word from his mother that Miranda will be coming to his university on an exchange program.

The following is the first entry in John Winston's diary regarding his upcoming reunion with Miranda, his childhood friend. Click here for more information on their past in Honduras.

(From the diary of John Winston, August 1st)

Mom e-mailed me to let me know that Miranda, a girl I played with in Honduras as a kid, may be coming here to school next year. I couldn't believe it! Well, I've been hoping something would happen to change the boring routine around here. But the truth is, I don't remember much about Miranda. The last time I saw her we were both only six years old. Mom gave her my email address, so maybe she'll write me.

Web Activities

B. ¡A leer!

Have you ever traveled to or studied in another country? The opportunities and challenges, both cultural and sociological, are immense. Read the following e-mail from Miranda to John and then take a look at the links that follow. Try to imagine what it will be like for her to come to this country from Honduras. What do you think are some misconceptions she might have about the United States, its people, and its education system?

(Mensaje electrónico de Miranda a John, 3 de agosto)


Juanito:

Me llamo Miranda. Do you remember me? We used to play together in the plaza in Catacamas [http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/namerica/ctrmaps/honduras.htm] when we were children. I believe your mother told you I would be coming to the United States to study. What a coincidence, no? My university has an exchange program with yours. I hope we can see each other when I arrive!

Tu amiga,
Miranda


As an introduction to the lives of John and Miranda in particular, and to Hispanic culture in general, view the links listed below referencing Honduras, Studying Abroad, and Hispanic Culture in the United States. After you have visited the links, write down three things that were new to you regarding each topic.

Honduras

1. Honduras

Estudiando en el extranjero

2. Studying Abroad

La cultura hispanoamericana en los Estados Unidos

3. Hispanic Culture in the United States

C. ¡A escribir!

Carta electrónica (E-mail) John wants to respond to Miranda and surprise her by writing in Spanish. He knows he doesn't have the same level of grammar and vocabulary in Spanish as she does in English, but he thinks he can write a simple and convincing message. Below is the e-mail message he sends her. Notice how "normal" the letter seems despite the fact that John is only a beginning Spanish student. As might be expected, he did look up a few words in the dictionary and guessed which definition would be appropriate.


Miranda:

Hola. Gracias por la carta. Yo estudio zoología aquí en California. Me gusta leer, jugar al fútbol y escuchar música. ¿Qué clase de música escuchas? ¿Te gustan los deportes? Deseo practicar en español más y escuchar de la vida en Honduras.

Hasta luego,
John


Preguntas Now, answer the following questions about university life around the world and Latino culture in the United States. Consult the Web links in the ¡A leer! section above as needed. Remember, Web sites are in a constant state of "construction". Therefore, do not be alarmed if one or more of the sites listed fail to provide you with relevant information. To access additional Web sites, just type various keywords into one of several Web browser search engines. Press the "submit" button to send your answers to your instructor, or print out your answers to be handed in during the next class period.

4. List three differences between universities in the United States and those in Hispanic countries.

5. Describe three areas in which a visitor to the United States might notice the pervasive influence of Hispanic culture. Give specific examples.

6. What one element of culture in the United States do you feel will be the most challenging for a student from Honduras like Miranda? Why?

Composición Now, write your own e-mail message in Spanish to Miranda. Pretend she is coming to your university to study and you have been asked to serve as her contact and guide when she arrives. Tell her something about yourself, your family, and/or your university. Be as creative and positive as possible. You should organize your ideas before beginning to write by creating a list of topics or a chart. Once you have finished, press the "submit" button to send your answers to your instructor or print out your answers to be handed in during the next class period.

Miranda:

7. E-mail message for Miranda

D. ¡A escuchar!

Visit the following Web sites and spend five to ten minutes listening to the Spanish language in some of its different forms. Don't allow yourself to be frustrated by the many words you do not know. Instead, try to pick out familiar vocabulary, both cognates and non-cognates. One suggestion is to make a list of words you recognize. In this way, you are already aware of how rapid the learning process is. A text box is provided beneath the links in which you can write down the words you recognize.

For most sites it will be necessary to have a version of Real Player http://www.real.com/realoneplayer.html?pp=choice&src=120303r1choice_c1_1_2_1_1 or Windows Media Player http://www.microsoft.com/windows/mediaplayer/en/download/Win32IE4x86.asp which can be downloaded from the links provided.

8. Recognizable words

 

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