Teaching Acceptance through Storytelling

This entry is part 45 of 48 in the series Teaching Transparently


Readers of LLU know that I am a huge fan of the work being done by the people at Radio Ambulante.   Not only is the audio in these 8 -15 minute radio shows beautifully and intricately crafted, the stories they tell are compelling and relevant  to the world that surrounds us. They are stories that we don’t always hear via the mainstream US media. Or as they identify themselves on their Tumblr page: “A monthly Spanish-language radio program telling uniquely Latin American stories.”

Radio Ambulante does not create audio specifically for the language classroom… their main audience is listeners for whom Spanish is their first language. In fact, the audio can be extremely challenging for students studying Spanish. My goal, however, was to make these stories accessible to my students so that they would want to talk about them in class.

What follows here are some of the resources I created to use with Radio Ambulante’s  “Yadira, Javier y Lucía”  which I am discussing with my class today, October 11th,  also known as National Coming Out Day.

Here is the description of the story in English:

Javier and Yadira met, fell in love, and made a life together. But sometimes relationships change in the most unexpected ways.

I asked my students  to review the picture that accompanied the recording on Radio Ambulante’s homepage.  I suggested that they look at it carefully and consider why the title of the story mentions three names.. and yet  the image only contains two people.


Image thanks to Radio Ambulante

Prior to assigning the story,  I prepared a script.  I identified the names of the narrators, gave a general idea of what was being discussed in certain parts of the recording and identified any expressions or regionalisms that I thought they would need to know (ex: “Y me aventó un rollonón, y le dije ‘al grano!’ ” or  “Cómo no me cayó el veinte”).

And while the story takes place in San Francisco, I asked the class to look at this site as well and to see what countries in the Americas had created  legislation to support and protect LGBTQ people (while emphasizing that  “support” and “protection” can vary widely…alas…),  How does our country compare to…say,…Uruguay?

And then…. they listened.

( Reported by Rosa M. Ramirez, produced by Nancy López, and edited by Camila Segura)

Finally,  I asked Ryan to help me brainstorm some small group questions for the class.  I wanted to find a way for my students  to think about the challenges that confront people who come out, not least of which is the reaction (sometimes unexpected, sometimes remarkable) from the people who love them.  I put them in a google doc here.  Feel free to add comments, suggestions, questions that you may have used when you used this audio in class.  The folks at Radio Ambulante are keen on figuring out ways to make these materials useful and accessible to our students… please join the conversation!

Small group conversation questions. Add yours!

As I was putting together these questions I did a little spell checking using the forums in Word Reference.com.  When I asked about the prefix trans, this is what popped up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 9.02.14 PM

Yes, this screenshot will also become a conversation topic in class today 🙂

So, feliz “Día del Salir Del Armario” (ah,  Google Translate) to all, and thank you once again Radio Ambulante for creating remarkable stories that enrich and enlighten our classroom conversations.

Comments welcome!



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Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

1 Comment

  1. LLU Hangout #3: Radio in the Language Classroom · October 15, 2013 Reply

    […] you have been following LLU you will see that I have been talking about using Radio Ambulante’s amazing shows in my conversation class.  RA’s shows are broadcast as radio shows, but are also available as podcasts via iTunes or […]

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