¡Vamos a la feria! / Let's go to the Fair!

A Project Prototype by Stacy Amling

not published

Typical celebrations and fairs often have deep cultural ties that go far beyond the surface images and practices in which participants engage. In this project, community-college learners of Spanish will engage in an exploration of the similarities and differences some of the common celebrations in Spanish-speaking countries to that of the Iowa State Fair, one of our state’s most iconic events, in order to prepare a culturally appropriate marketing campaign in Spanish about the Fair. While visitors may be able to navigate the Fair without Spanish-language materials, this is our opportunity to collaboratively provide a more welcoming environment by supplementing the existing English language materials.

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Key Knowledge and Understanding Grid, and Product Reflection Square

Driving Question & Learning Targets

Launching the Project

Entry Event: Compare/Contrast

Brainstorming / Generating Ideas

Intercultural Exchange Interviews

Managing the Project

Scaffolding their Development

Drafting Spanish-language Materials

Final Version!


Assessment Plan

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Key Knowledge and Understanding Grid, and Product Reflection Square




How can we effectively promote the Iowa State Fair to Spanish-speaking residents?

To increase awareness of culturally-relevant celebrations in Iowa

To develop materials reflecting the rich history and cultural traditions of the Iowa State Fair  



Specific format will be determined cooperatively with students as the project unfolds, but perhaps a brief video commercial or print materials/infographic or website

Spanish-speaking visitors to Iowa

Why do learners care?

Students generally enjoy learning about culturally-relevant celebrations and traditions and sharing their own with others. This project will give them the opportunity to share this important tradition from Iowa culture with others, and to compare/contrast their experiences with the native-Spanish speaking cultural informants they will interview.

Possibilities for Cultural Interaction and Reflection

Students will explore the target culture(s) and their own through interpretive and interpersonal experiences. We will first watch videos and read a variety of texts to develop some initial background knowledge before engaging in some interviews with cultural informants. Along the way, learners will be encouraged to reflect on their own growth and deepening understand of some of the cultural aspects that are similar and different between the target culture and their own. The final product will media developed for use by members of the target culture who want to develop a deeper understanding of a time-honored Iowa tradition, so it is important that our work help them to more effectively participate by offering relevant suggestions.

Driving Question & Learning Targets

Driving Question: How can we effectively promote the Iowa State Fair to Spanish-speaking residents?

Intended Content: 

Discipline-specific content: Students will need to gain a better understanding of other common celebrations, in order to compare & contrast.

Content resources: readings & infographics, videos, invited speakers

Cross-disciplinary work: This may vary somewhat (based on the direction in which learners take the project), but may include: agriculture, sociology, culinary arts, art, and music, among others.

Student Learning Targets:

Language Specific:

Vocabulary: Celebrations, foods, common activities

Grammar: Students will need to summarize and synthesize information related to various celebrations. They will likely need the past tense and the commands to describe the history as well as language to make recommendations (commands or subjunctive)


Language Competencies: This project will engage students in many aspects of the 5 Cs (Communication in all 3 modes, Cultures, Comparisons, Connections between their cultural practices and those of the target culture(s), and Communities).  

Overarching goal: Draft, revise, and finalize a written document (likely a website/infographic) to inform, persuade, or narrate on a variety of topics related to the Iowa State Fair.

Language Competencies (Interpretive):

  • I can understand short, simple descriptions with the help of pictures or graphs.

  • I can understand the main idea of published materials.

  • I can understand simple everyday notices in public places on topics that are familiar to me.

Language Competencies (Interpersonal):

  • I can greet and leave people in a polite way.

  • I can introduce myself and others.

  • I can ask and answer a variety of simple questions.

  • I can make some simple statements in a conversation.

  • I can communicate basic information about myself and people I know.

  • I can communicate some basic information about my everyday life.

  • Communicate and exchange information about familiar topics using phrases and simple sentences, sometimes supported by memorized language.   

  • Handle short social interactions in everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions.

Language Competencies (Presentational):

  • I can present information about my life using phrases and simple sentences.

  • I can tell about a familiar experience or event using phrases and simple sentences.

  • I can present basic information about a familiar person, place, or thing using phrases and simple sentences.

  • I can give basic instructions on how to make or do something using phrases and simple sentences.

  • I can present basic information about things I have learned using phrases and simple sentences.

To improve their language proficiency, students will be reading, listening, writing and speaking in the target language about a high-interest topic. They will have to negotiate meaning with their native speaker informants. They will also create Spanish-language materials for native speakers using all that they have learned (content & language).


Launching the Project

Entry Event: Compare/Contrast

In order to prepare culturally appropriate materials in Spanish about the Iowa State Fair for our visitors, we’re going to first look at some of the other traditions.

  1. View the video about Feria de Abril (Sevilla, Spain) without sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBrAnxh6UHU Students discuss in small groups: What do you see? (eliciting basic description in Spanish: people in fancy clothes, attending a fair, people on horseback, tents) Where is this taking place? What do the surroundings look like?

  2. Watch either of the videos about the Iowa State Fair (without sound): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExzVf1hd-4A or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o21p3_Zr2Dw Students discuss in small groups:  What do you see? (eliciting basic description in Spanish: people in casual clothes, walking & eating, attending a fair, people on horseback, tents) Where is this taking place? What do the surroundings look like?

  3. After watching, students fill out a Venn diagram (see diagram provided in linked site below) with characteristics of each celebration and then post-watching discuss with small groups the similarities/differences they noticed.
  4. Students discuss their own experiences with fairs, such as the Iowa State Fair. How often do you go? What do you like to do there? What, if anything, do you dislike about going to fairs? (Do you like/dislike going?) Who do you go with? What is your favorite food at the fair? This can be expanded to highlight other "knowns": When is the Fair? What is the weather like? What do people do at the Fair?
  5. Finally, students (either in a small group or as a whole class) can brainstorm additional questions they have after watching (i.e., How often does this fair take place?, Are there other similar festivals or fairs?, etc.)

Link to GoogleDoc with handout

Technology Tips

These videos were available on YouTube at the time this project was created. Other more suitable short videos can easily be substituted. 

Task Extension

Given the time constraints we face at the community college level, this activity has been limited to two videos. However, as time and resources permit, students can view additional videos of other festivals/fairs and discuss in greater depth. The compare/contrast framework can be expanded to include other fairs or festivals to give students additional perspectives. 

Brainstorming / Generating Ideas

Students will work in small groups to formulate interview questions relating to interviewees' experiences with a variety of cultural celebrations as well as what they know or would like to know about the Iowa State Fair.  

Intercultural Exchange Interviews

After drafting/revising and practicing their interview questions, students will work in pairs or small groups to interview our Spanish-speaking informants from the community. They will record the interviews and self-assess their ability to carry out the interview in Spanish.  

Task Extension

As time permits, students could interview more than one informant to gain a broader perspective on important celebrations. 

Managing the Project

Scaffolding their Development

Through the project process, a variety of steps will be taken to scaffold learners' work. These will include: 

For discipline-specific content: Students will interview cultural informants to gather information. Representatives from the Iowa State Fair Board will be invited to class to provide insights (likely in English) for the Fair that may not be noticeable to regular visitors. Students will use authentic materials in Spanish to build their knowledge of culturally relevant celebrations and for linguistic models.

For language: Students will engage in guided practice for linguistic features necessary for the project (particularly for the interview and for making recommendations in the final product). Their language proficiency will be expanded and supported through “pop-up” grammar instruction to address necessary topics on an as-needed basis. Native speakers from the community will be invited to review the product along the way and provide feedback.  

For technology: Mini-lessons will be scheduled to support students’ needs as the technological applications are incorporated. This could include addressing how to use additional Google apps, web design, or social media strategies, depending on the project format selected.

For the project process: Students will co-construct the project timeline and will have “check-ins” along the way. They will be asked to reflect in a Google doc after each phase of the project in order to gain an understanding of their learning (both linguistic, content, and culturally) during the process and to help keep them on track.


For the final product: Students will engage in self- and peer-review critiques. Native speaker informants will be invited to give feedback during the revision process and their suggestions will be incorporated into the final drafting steps. 

Drafting Spanish-language Materials

Though much of this will be determined in collaboration with the students as the project is carried out, it is planned that students will divide up the topics to be presented in Spanish and draft materials. The group will determine the format and each sub-group will contribute a piece of the whole (whether it be a multi-part infographic, website, etc.).

Students will work in self-determined small groups that may focus on: getting to/from the fairgrounds, popular foods, important events, and/or other helpful hints for a successful visit. 

These drafts will be shared with other groups in class as well as reviewed by the instructor and Spanish-speaking informants to revise the content and language use. The feedback will be used to prepare a new-and-improved version. 

Final Version!

Students will incorporate the feedback gleaned from the revision process and prepare a polished final version of the Spanish-language materials. 


Assessment Plan

In order for students to grow and improve their cultural, linguistic, and collaborative skills, they will be encouraged to reflect throughout the process as well as to receive feedback from the instructor, their peers, and whenever possible, from our Spanish-speaking informants/partners.

Some of the formative assessments will include:

Understanding checks during in-class activities

Quick exit tickets to measure what students are gaining from the content, language, and project process. These may be handwritten on slips of paper or done using Go Formative!

Reflections via our Google doc journals

Feedback (likely informal) during the questions generation phase (preparing for the initial interviews)

Collaboration Rubric--students will self assess and get feedback from the instructor and from group member peers

Summative Assessment will be provided via rubrics, particularly on the interpersonal interview and the project final product. In order to make them more user-friendly, a single-point rubric format has been implemented, in keeping with the other rubrics that students see in class.

Vamos a la Feria! Final Product Rubric (subject to change based on negotiation with learners)

Implementation Info