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Language and Literature in Spanish

Olga Valeria, Upper Division Spanish Teacher

In Spanish 5 class, upper grades students were introduced to the topic of language and literature and the contexts of:

  • Literary production and creativity in the Pan-Hispanic world, social fragmentation, and the expansion of cities and growth of the middle class;
  • Magical realism, European and North American influence and the first Latin American literature published in Europe.

The following essential questions guided their inquiry and understanding:

  • How does literature reveal the cultural practices and perspectives of the people?
  • What questions does literature pose in relationship to reality and fantasy?
  • What is the meaning of life and how does it relate to the concept of, or belief in, death? 
  • How do sociocultural, historical and political contexts influence the expression of identity and impact interpersonal relations?

Students conducted research on magical realism, a literary genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic techniques are combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy. They also examined the characteristics of the “Boom” as an emerging cultural movement, and the impact of the sociopolitical situation of Latin American countries on artistic innovation and the new literary identity. Students read a fragment of Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez and watched the movie Love in the Time of Cholera, based on the novel by García Márquez—a story of love separated by time and family obligation, only to be reunited 50 years later. 

Discussing Como Agua para Chocolate
Discussing Como Agua para Chocolate

Throughout the whole school year, students read and enjoyed Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), Laura Esquivel’s moving novel about family life and traditions in Mexico, destiny and love, food and cooking. Each month, students participated in Exchange discussions about each chapter of the novel, analyzing, summarizing and clarifying the text, asking questions and making suggestions, offering examples from the novel, giving an opinion or reacting to comments and making connections with other texts or situations. Students then watched the movie based on this novel, comparing and contrasting the book with the movie. They were encouraged to think critically and deeply about the movie adaptation, to pay attention to very specific details, to identify the characters, setting, and plot in a book and in the movie, describe how the elements of the book and movie are alike and different and to hypothesize reasons that movie makers altered characteristics from the book. 

Discussing books in Spanish

As the culmination of the unit, students worked on the group project Book Trailer, sharing their knowledge about their favorite books. Their goal was to entice others to read their book and share its important literary elements in an original, creative and innovative way using digital tools. See some examples of their trailers below. 



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