Teaching Compliments and Physical Appearance in Spanish

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Genoveva Di Maggio


The goal of the present teaching activity is to introduce five tasks to improve Spanish learners’ intercultural competence in a foreign language classroom. Intercultural competence involves not only the appropriate use of linguistic features but also of sociocultural ones. It aims to raise awareness, discuss topic appropriateness, and develop curiosity for Spanish-speaking cultures and interaction skills, specifically how to appropriately pay compliments and talk about someone’s physical appearance, useful to successfully communicate in such cultural contexts. The five tasks introduced, piloted in a Spanish classroom, allow the student to raise pragmatic awareness about physical appearance and compliments in the Spanish-speaking world. The task choice followed Byram’s (1997, 2021) Intercultural Communicative Competence model, which comprises raising intercultural competence, interpreting and relating cultural beliefs, interpreting and relating cultural practices, discovering and interacting with cultural practice, and discussing and evaluating cultural practices. Students are also given the opportunity to reflect on the input provided. All the activities were organized keeping in mind the learner’s background and the target culture.


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