Document Type

Essays, Studies, and Works


Most methodological approaches to the teaching of culture and civilization for second language students tend to have two things in common. First, they put an emphasis in history and high culture: fine arts, literature and film. Second, when they cover current events, they tend to take what I will call horizontal views of the civilization, trying to cover a wide spectrum of aspects of society, and not getting into an in-depth study of any of them.

This article wants to propose a different methodology on both counts. First, instead of focusing on high culture, I want to use an item of popular culture to illustrate a certain civilization. Second, this article proposes a radically vertical view, which will center around a very specific aspect of the country’s culture.

More specifically, in this work I will attempt to use sports as a way to understand the culture and civilization of Spain. Although for a long time sports were ostracized from most intellectual studies, recently we have seen more attention paid to them in fields such as business, sociology, anthropology and media studies. I believe that sports and the spectatorship that they generate are so widespread that they offer unlimited windows into society as a whole. In this article I will focus exclusively on Spain, but this point of view can undoubtedly be extended to many other Latin countries, in the case of the teaching of Spanish, and to most Western countries for many other languages.

This article will look at several ways in which sports provide a significant representation of Spanish culture and civilization. I will cover issues such as the media, the ways that Spaniards see themselves, political symbols and conflicts, and the status of certain social groups. I do not believe that such a view stands in competition with the more accepted horizontal views that focus on history and high culture. Rather the intention is to provide an alternative and complementary approach, as well as a handful of useful examples for all views from an often over looked field. I hope that this journey through sports in Spain will offer at least some ideas that will help teachers of Spanish use this topic in a culture and civilization class.

Publication Date

Fall 2006

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©2006 Juan Castillo



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