Spanish as a Third Language

Print section

Cultural references

Learning a language and discovering the culture attached to it are inseparable. By familiarizing themselves with a variety of cultural references, students can gain a better understanding of the many dimensions of Spanish-language cultures and go beyond stereotypes. They also build bridges between these cultures and their own.

From the time they begin learning the language, students explore a diversity of cultural references from various Spanish-speaking countries. They gradually deepen their understanding of these references, which enables them to interact effectively with Spanish speakers (sociolinguistic aspect), to function in a Spanish-speaking milieu (sociological aspect) and to discover the cultural heritage of Spanish speakers in various countries (the aesthetic aspect).

The following table presents examples of the knowledge relating to sociolinguistic, sociological and aesthetic cultural references.

Cultural references

Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.


Cycle Two

  1. Sociolinguistic Aspect
3 4 5
  1. Recognizes linguistic and paralinguistic communication conventions used by Spanish speakers (e.g. addressing a person using the formal “you,”  proximity during conversations)
  1. Applies linguistic and paralinguistic conventions in a variety of communication situations
  1. Recognizes the language register used by Spanish speakers in different communication situations:
    1. informal (e.g. ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? / ¡Qué chulo!)
    1. neutral (e.g. ¡Buenos días! ¿Cómo está? / ¡Qué bonito!)
    1. formal (e.g. ¡Buenos días, señor Martínez! ¿Cómo se encuentra? / ¡Magnífico!)
  1. Uses the appropriate language register for the communication situation (e.g. formal when speaking to someone in a position of authority)
  1. Recognizes regional variations in Spanish:
    1. vocabulary (e.g. autobús in Spain, camión in Mexico, guagua in Cuba)
    1. phonetic variations (e.g. the elision of the /s/ in the Caribbean or the aspiration of the /s/ in Central America, such as in the word estar, thus [e:tar] [eʰtar])
  1. Recognizes the influence of French (e.g. ballet, bechamel) or English (e.g. computadora, béisbol) on Spanish words
  1. Understands certain forms of overt humour in Spanish (e.g. jokes, advertisements, riddles, puns)
  1. Uses Spanish, respecting its principal sociolinguistic conventions
  1. Sociological aspect
3 4 5
  1. Social and daily practices
    1. Compares various activities of young Spanish speakers throughout the world with those of young Quebeckers (e.g. sports, hobbies, recreational pursuits)
    1. Observes eating habits in Spanish-speaking countries (e.g. foods of Spanish or Spanish-American origin, typical dishes, mealtimes)
    1. Compares certain characteristics of foods or eating habits in Spanish America, Spain and Québec
    1. Observes the concept of time in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. the concept of punctuality implies tolerating lateness; work and school hours as well as mealtimes are not the same in Spanish America as they are in Spain)
    1. Recognizes certain customs and traditions particular to Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. la fiesta de quinceañera, which celebrates a woman’s passage from childhood to adulthood; las Fallas de Valencia, when giant artistic works are burned on the public square)
    1. Explores manifestations of religious beliefs in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. the presence of religious images and crucifixes in public buses, processions through the streets during Semana santa)
    1. Integrates his/her knowledge of social and daily life practices in Spanish-speaking societies into his/her interactions and productions in Spanish
  1. Living conditions
    1. Explores the living conditions in various Spanish-speaking countries (e.g. the main types of housing, social services provided by the government)
    1. Explores the influence of certain geographic features on the lifestyles of Spanish-speaking communities (e.g. a tropical climate favours an outdoor lifestyle)
    1. Connects the standard of living in Spanish-speaking countries with the regional, social and cultural situations of these countries (e.g. Employees working in large tourist resorts are better paid than their counterparts in remote areas.)
  1. Interpersonal relationships
    1. Observes the traditional structure of Spanish-speaking families (e.g. the father as the authority figure) and other existing family structures (e.g. the mother as head of a single-parent family)
    1. Explores various types of social relationships in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. lack of recognition for the rights of certain ethnic minorities, young people’s respect for older people)
    1. Explores cultural aspects that influence interpersonal relationships in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. the importance of family values, continuing prejudice against same-sex couples)
    1. Explores typical aspects of workplace relationships in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. great respect for one’s superior, increasingly egalitarian working relationships between men and women)
    1. Explores typical aspects of relationships with government authorities in Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. distrust of the police, resignation in the face of bureaucratic red tape)
    1. Compares how various kinds of interpersonal relationships are viewed in Spanish-speaking societies and his/her own culture
    1. Explores aspects of Spanish-speaking cultures that allow some of their values to be compared with those in Québec culture (e.g. family or work relationships)
  1. Social organization
    1. Explores elements of the education system in certain Spanish-speaking countries (e.g. number of years of mandatory schooling, functioning of elementary and secondary schools)
    1. Compares the education situation of young Spanish speakers with that of young Quebeckers
    1. Explores political events that have influenced past and present-day Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. Spain’s hegemony in the Spanish Golden Age, the advent of Communism in Cuba)
    1. Compares the political context of Spanish-speaking countries with that of Québec
    1. Explores economic developments that have influenced past and present-day Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. the demand for fair-trade products in North America has had positive impacts on the respect for the rights of Spanish American workers.)
    1. Compares the economic situation of Spanish-speaking societies with that of Québec
  1. Sociohistorical context
    1. Gives examples of historical, tourist or archaeological sites associated with the culture of various Spanish-speaking countries (e.g. Machu Picchu, an old Inca city in Peru, dating from the XVth century; the Alhambra, a major monument of Islamic architecture in Spain)
    1. Names public figures who have left their mark on past and present-day Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary; Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the IOC for 21 years)
    1. Explains briefly the contributions of outstanding figures who have left their mark on the culture and society of various Spanish-speaking countries (e.g. Rigoberta Menchú and her fight for indigenous peoples’ rights)
    1. Explains briefly the influence of certain social or historical events on Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. Free schooling in certain countries like Chile has raised the level of education. The colonization of certain countries like Mexico brought about the decline of spoken and written indigenous languages.)
    1. Gives examples of the contribution of certain Spanish-speaking cultures to modern society (e.g. the discovery of the concept of the ordinal and cardinal zero by the Mayans)
    1. Explores, by reading, listening to and viewing texts,  sociohistorical similarities and differences between Québec culture and the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries
  1. Aesthetic aspect
3 4 5
  1. Familiarizes himself/herself with certain rhythms, songs and dances typical of Spanish-speaking societies (e.g. flamenco in Spain, salsa in Hispanic America)
  1. Knows popular Spanish-language songs (e.g. Guantanamera, La Bamba, ¡Qué viva España!)
  1. Understands the meaning of Spanish-language songs
  1. Explores films from Spanish-speaking countries
  1. Explores different Spanish-language media (e.g. Web sites, magazines, television programs)
  1. Uses available Spanish-language media to improve his/her understanding of a subject or for entertainment purposes
  1. Explores Spanish literary works or excerpts (e.g. comic books, young adult literature)
  1. Explores works created by Spanish-speaking artists (e.g. painting, sculpture, architecture)
  1. Expresses his/her opinion on works created by Spanish-speaking artists
  1. Explores Spanish-language cultural outlets in his/her community (e.g. dance halls, restaurants, bookstores)
  1. Compares forms of artistic expression by Spanish speakers with those of his/her own culture

Haut de page