One of the challenging tasks on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam is the Cultural Comparison. In this post we will talk about the most important things your students need to know and practice for success! Here are my best tips for the cultural comparison!
Direct Instruction For The Cultural Comparison
Don’t assume your students will be able to figure this out on their own. Make time towards the beginning of the year to explain the purpose of the task and what is required. I use this presentation to do so, but it’s easy to create your own! Then be sure to give plenty of opportunities for practice.
Specifics For The Cultural Comparison
Your students will need to keep the following things in mind. One of my first tips for the cultural comparison is to make sure students really know these things!
1. They will have 4 minutes to prep
2. During those 4 minutes, they can write down ideas.
3. They only have 2 minutes to record their answer.
4. Their response must contain an introduction and a conclusion. (1 sentence for each is fine!)
5. They need to say which 2 cultures they’re comparing.
6. Their response must talk about similarities, differences or a combination of both between an Hispanic culture and their own.
Specific Tips For the Cultural Comparison: Prep Time
Over the years, certain pitfalls are predictable with my students. Here are some look-fors for you as a teacher giving feedback that will help your students.
During the 4 minutes of prep time:
-be sure to read and understand the question!
So many times my students have misunderstood the question and not scored well because they answered about something other than what the question asked!
-write down ideas about what to talk about, but don’t try to write full sentences!
Students are often tempted to write out what they want to say so they can just read it. But there won’t be enough time to write everything, so a better habit from the start is to just write notes on a T-chart (one side for each culture).
Specific Tips For the Cultural Comparison: Response
-Teach students to change the question of the prompt into a statement that can be used as the introduction. Even better if they can also work in the 2 cultures they will be preparing!
2 common pitfalls here: Either students talk WAY too long as an intro, or they forget to mention what 2 cultures they’re comparing.
-Teach students to take one point at a time and talk about both cultures before moving on to the 2nd example. A lot of times, students will say all their examples about Puerto Rico, and then run out of time before they can compare with the US! Going point by point will ensure that they actually make a comparison.
-Practice changing the wording of the intro slightly to create a short concluding sentence.
Specific Tips For the Cultural Comparison: General
The most common problem students have is that they can’t complete their response in the 2 minute time frame. This is how to overcome that problem.
- PRACTICE! Students need many, many opportunities to practice this, especially with the actual 4 minutes of prep and 2 minutes to record. This allows them to really have a feeling for what they can achieve in those time blocks.
- Some students struggle with feeling nervous about recording themselves and take up to 20 seconds to begin talking. Again, the best way to overcome this issue is to offer many practice opportunities.
- Allow students to record twice. Then let them submit the response they think was better. I do this a lot at the beginning. It eases their fear and anxiety.
- Consider teaching the format of this task in writing the very first time. So many students become incredibly anxious when speaking, especially under a time limit. Letting them write instead of speak the first time will allow them to practice the skills of an introduction, statement of cultures, 3 comparison points and a conclusion before adding the pressure of 6 minutes only!
I hope these tips will give you the confidence and know-how you need to guide your students! Please let me know if you need any other tips or strategies for your AP Spanish classes!