For many students studying Spanish, the ultimate way to test their speaking skills is to become immersed in a culture where it is the primary language. These days, student travel groups may be less inclined to visit Mexico, due to news of attacks on American citizens traveling there. Europe may be overpriced for smaller school trip budgets. Puerto Rico is a great alternative to other destinations. Best of all – no passport is needed, since it is a U.S. Territory.
If the school group leader requests it – this tour is done completely in Spanish. Students are challenged to speak Spanish while they travel. Student travelers will eat locally made Puerto Rican food, learn Salsa dancing from locals, play dominoes and briscas, dine and converse with local guides and residents and swim and lodge where locals enjoy the beach. Student travel groups will tour San Juan and Ponce, two of the largest cities in Puerto Rico, and also have the opportunity to explore rural areas, like the pristine beaches of Boquerón and Luquillo, the fishing village La Parguera, and El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States.
Read on to find out how this tour is structured to teach the Spanish student through an immersion in Puerto Rican culture.
Dining Out in Puerto Rico
Student travelers will have authentic culinary experiences while touring. Eating locally prepared dishes is one way to learn more about everyday life in Puerto Rico. In San Juan, students will try authentic Afro-Caribbean dishes at Piñones restaurant. While visiting the small fishing village of La Parquera in western Puerto Rico, students will be treated to a homemade dinner and snacks prepared by locals. In Ponce, the group will eat an elegant Puerto Rican dinner at San Juan’s top salsa spot and may sample some churros – a fried pastry that is sometimes dipped in chocolate. While visiting El Yunque rainforest on the Northeast coast of Puerto Rico, students will sample Pinchos, a traditional Spanish snack eaten with toothpicks or skewers.
Experiencing Puerto Rican Culture
Salsa dancing is more popular than ever in Spanish speaking countries. Meanwhile a wave of enthusiasm for learning Salsa is sweeping the United States and other countries. On the first evening of the tour, students will take professionally taught Salsa lessons and participate in a workshop at one of Puerto Rico’s most prestigious dance schools. A few days later the group will dine in a top salsa restaurant in San Juan where they will listen to live Salsa music – where they may choose to practice some of the dance moves they learned.
On day two of the tour, students will see a Puerto Rican dance performance and participate in a workshop where they will learn the history and the moves of dance from Bomba y Plena to the current Reggaetón.
Towards the end of the tour students will learn to play dominós and briscas, two favorite local games, while relaxing after supper.
Spanish Language Learning Exercises
Foreign language teachers will be interested in hearing their students speak Spanish on tour, so the local tour guide has developed some fun and ingenious ways of learning. On the first day of the tour he will teach the group how to sing Marc Anthony’s Preciosa, Puerto Rico’s unofficial anthem. By the final day of the tour the guide will ask students to sing Preciosa by heart.
Near La Parguera, students will have the opportunity to tour a public school and see how children in Puerto Rico learn. The Principal will guide them around the school. Students will have a chance to test their Spanish by posing questions they may have about education in Puerto Rico – and be answered in Spanish.
While touring Ponce’s old and new farmers markets, students will participate in a Scavenger Digital Hunt. They will learn the Spanish names for native fruits, vegetables and meat products. This is a fun, hands-on way to learn new Spanish words using technology and real time interactions with the people of Puerto Rico.
This tour includes visits to rural areas and cities. It can be adapted to any student travel group’s needs or preferences. Because a Puerto Rican tour guide created it, the sites selected offer an insightful local viewpoint on culture, language and food.