I happened to take a look at some of the products a popular Spanish-teacher catalog was promoting. As someone who enjoys not only the language, but the culture of the Spanish-speaking world I was embarrassed by what I have seen in my profession. The number of stereotypical imaging used on the products was considerable. I can’t even tell you how many maracas, chile peppers, burritos, and tacos that I came across.
Now some of you may find these images “cute” and think I’m just being grumpy (I did see a lot of that reaction to this image on pinterest). Maybe these items are targeted for an elementary audience, where “cute” is appropriate, but I’ve seen teachers in secondary levels using these types of images as well. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of this too. We want to “spice up” a worksheet or document with clipart and without many options we choose something arbitrary, such as a piñata. However, if this is what we expose our students to, we are perpetrating these stereotypes. I want my students to see these countries for the beautiful things that they offer. I don’t want them to associate the Spanish language with a taco. Every taco is not created equal. And if your students think Taco Bell is representative of Mexico, then we are failing them.Share your thoughts below.
Update: We’d like to highlight some clipart that teachers can use that are culturally rich. Check out these amazing sets of clipart for Spanish class including Powerpoint backgrounds that respect the culture!
And for further reading on the harmfulness of stereotypical images, read this article.