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Content Type4
TitleUnit: Understanding Different Scenarios in Immigration

This unit was planned in collaboration with and implemented by Andrea Bohling at Glastonbury Public Schools. A prior version of this unit (Wallace and Tombarello, forthcoming) is published in Byram, Perugini, and Wagner (forthcoming).

In the following, we share a unit we developed for Spanish 5 as a culmination of a year-long study based on topics related to immigration (e.g., stereotypes, identity, immigrant populations, and the immigrant experience as an all encompassing concept).  The student population that took on this specific assignment were juniors in high school, with the exception of two students who were seniors.


When Andrea volunteered to collaborate with Fabiana, Manuela and Michael to integrate intercultural citizenship in the final unit of her Spanish 5 level 1 and level 2 high school classes, Manuela suggested that they modify a unit developed by Deanne Wallace and Jocelyn Tamborello (forthcoming) because that unit seemed to be a good fit for Andrea’s objectives in her class.  Over the next weeks, we met in person and online to modify the unit and to design the following assignments and assessments.

Main goals:

The main goal for this activity was twofold. First, the objective was to allow students to utilize the cultural information and insights they had studied throughout the year in order to better understand the immigrant experience. With a focus on Puerto Rican, Mexican and Dominican immigrant groups, students were expected to incorporate mathematical concepts and calculations in order to design, as interpreters/facilitators, a product that addressed all fundamental necessities to establish a life, as an immigrant, in the United States. Secondly, students were required to produce a piece of reflective writing addressing and considering their experiences while facilitating the process of creating an action plan for the designated immigrant families for getting settled in the USA. Using a specific writing prompt, as well as an ICC and Proficiency rubric that delineated the expectations (See: ICC Project Final Reflection Rubric and ICC Project Product Rubric), students produced a piece that culminated their experiences as students of the Spanish 5 curriculum. As detailed in the final reflection prompt (See: ICC Project Description), students were encouraged to reflect on the different aspects (challenges, triumphs and obstacles) that may be part of an immigrant’s experience and, as complemented by the activity’s investigation, they were prompted to synthesize the unique and ever evolving nature that characterizes the immigration and assimilation processes. Students were expected to use Spanish throughout all conversations, reports, and presentations. As such, this project serves as a teaching tool for developing students’ intercultural communicative competence as well as an assessment of what they have learned in the prior units.

Context of Implementation:

Throughout the school year, Andrea’s students had learned about immigration as well as the different immigrant groups in the United States, mainly from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. In her final project, Andrea intended to address intercultural competence (IC) (Byram, 1997) and intercultural citizenship (ICC) (Byram, 2008; see also Part 1 and Part 2 of Wagner and Byram, 2016, and Wagner, Cardetti, and Byram, 2016).  She had a solid foundation in these theories having worked with them in her methods course and also in her inquiry project in her graduate studies.  Nevertheless she shared with us that she would love to see concrete examples of how to teach and assess IC and ICC.

The Spanish 5 curriculum at Glastonbury High School has the following as its essential questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What are the concepts of “self” in Hispanic cultures and in diverse societies?
  • How does self-identity change?

In addressing these questions, all students following the Spanish 5 curriculum delve into the study of the different Spanish-speaking immigrant groups (specifically the Dominicans, the Puerto Ricans and the Mexicans) in the United States. As students learn about these groups’ historical backgrounds, they are also able to further analyze the commonly held and continuously perpetuated stereotypes and preconceptions that exist about these immigrants in a way that allows students to uncover the richly varied experiences that separate these groups from one another. Students learn about the immigrant experiences that each group has, based on their unique history and relationship to the United States. In addition, students are faced with questions about the processes of coming-of-age, language acquisition, and assimilation; in addressing these inquiries students are encouraged to dissect the different dimensions of the immigrant experience.

Two of the three classes following this curriculum were “Spanish 5, Level 2” classes. Students at this level range between an Intermediate Low (IL) and Intermediate Mid (IM) based on the ACTFL Proficiency Scale for Speaking. The third class of students, “Spanish 5, Level 1” are estimated to range between an Intermediate Mid (IM) to an Advanced Low (AL). Due to each class’s composition, students were arranged in groups of four, three or pairs in order to complete this assignment.

Project Description:

As a concluding activity students were able to incorporate prior knowledge on the different immigrant groups, as well as the information on both the causes and the process that constitute immigration to the United States in order to prepare a logical action plan for an immigrant family with specific characteristics.

The allotted class time for the production of their plan, as well as the research and data organization needed for it, was a week and a half. This is the first time, we implemented this unit and we decided to use this as a pilot project which can be modified for later implementations.  All reflections, pre and post assignment, were completed at home; however, preparation and organization for the final reflection was assembled during class time following an organizer prepared specifically for these classes (See: ICC Project Final Reflection Organizer). 

Project Implementation:

Download a day-by-day description of the project implementation along with the teacher's reflection here.

Additional Materials

  1. ICC Project Survey
  2. ICC Project Description
  3. ICC Project Product Rubric
  4. ICC Project Final Reflection Organizer
  5. ICC Project Final Reflection Rubric


Byram, Perugini, and Wagner (forthcoming). Implementing intercultural communication in the classroom. In Byram, M., Perugini, D., & Wagner, M. (forthcoming).  Teaching Intercultural Competence Across the Age Range: Theory and Practice. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Wagner and Byram (2016). Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence in the World Language Classroom. CASLS InterCom. Available from

Wagner, Cardetti, and Byram (2016). Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence in the World Language Classroom and Beyond. CASLS InterCom. Available from

Wallace and Tombarello (forthcoming). Teaching Intercultural Competence Across the Age Range: Theory and Practice. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

SourceCASLS Topic of the Week
Inputdate2016-06-16 10:34:32
Lastmodifieddate2016-06-20 03:36:33
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Publishdate2016-06-20 02:15:02
Displaydate2016-06-20 00:00:00