Let’s Fly: A Flight Simulation

Today my little darlings and I flew to Costa Rica… sort of. We’re in the Travel Unit in Spanish 2, it’s the end of the year, and we all needed something new and fresh. So I decided to play flight attendant, they would play passengers and we would “fly” to Costa Rica. And it was so much fun!

It’s kind of the perfect simulation for a CI class…most simulations (market, restaurant, whatever) require a lot of forced output…but an airplane is perfect! When else in real life do you have a captive audience who mostly just listens and follows instructions?!

 Setting up a realistic situation is all in the details, and here are a few that made today special:

  1. Pre boarding announcements:  I scheduled remind.com announcements so my little darlings got a text 15 minutes before class started, stating (in Spanish) The flight to Costa Rica will leave in 15 minutes.
  2. Locked them out: (No pre-boarding!) Normally my little darlings mill in a few minutes before school starts, but today I made them wait outside. And I put a sign on my door:
  3. Dress the part: This was fun  because I love playing dress up and I have a patient husband who weighed in on the question: Which outfit looks most like a flight attendant? (Answer: dress, blazer, scarf tied around neck)
  4. Set up airplane: Since my little darlings were going to fly economy class, I set up the chairs pretty close and in rows. One row of double seats, an aisle, a center row of 3 seats, another aisle and a final row of double seats. And since I was going for authenticity, there was minimal legroom. (Insert evil laugh). I also set up First Class with the 2 plush chairs I have, and left “reserved” signs on them).
  5. In flight entertainment: I made this slideshow for our in flight entertainment. Feel free to make a copy and edit it as you’d like! (Personalize away!)
  6. Boarding: Right as the bell rang to start class, I opened the door and welcomed my “Pasajeros” aboard, instructing them to get their free reading novel and find a seat. (It was open seating like Southwest…. No time to make boarding tickets and make seat assignments!)
  7. In flight announcements: Don’t forget to make lots of announcements: “Pasajeros, su atención por favor”  and remind students, er, passengers that the seat belt sign is on, to tuck their backpack under the seat in front of them, to stow their tray table (mini whiteboard!) for take off and landing, phones are not permitted, etc.
  8. Flight attendants: After everyone had boarded and in their seats, I asked for 2 volunteers to be flight attendants. They were “upgraded” to the “First Class Seats” and put on wear  aprons. They helped me distribute materials, pass out food and drinks and collect the trash.
Look at that plush first class section!

So now they’re on the plane…what do we do?!   I wanted to think of activities that they can do seated, that would be realistic for an airplane, that would also load them up with lots of input:

  1. Take off video: Search you tube to find a take off video from your nearest airport. Great time for chatting with students, I mean passengers: Who likes to fly? Who is nervous? Who has been to Costa Rica before? Who is going to Costa Rica for the first time? 
  2. Flight safety video and announcements: Search YouTube! I bet you can a video for your target language! My kiddos got a kick of out it!
  3. Silent Reading: While they read, I put up a picture of an airplane window with clouds (it’s in the slideshow above!) The flight attendants collected their books after 10 minutes and returned them to their appropriate shelf.
  4. Beverage Service: Two students had brought in Horchata and Orange Juice (they thought we were having a “fiesta” Ha!)  and my flight attendants distributed beverages.
  5. Food Service: Since we were going to Costa Rica (and I had told them ahead of time that we would be eating in class today) I had prepared Gallo Pinto at home warmed it up while students watched a Gallo Pinto cooking show video. Here’s a whole post about making Gallo Pinto in class (and lots of Costa Rican tidbits)   Generally I cook in class Cooking Show Style, it made things much easier to cook it at home and warm it up in the classroom for our Flight Simulation.


  2. Travel Video: I found a great travel video on YouTube (it’s in the powerpoint!) but it wasn’t very comprehensible, so I asked them to watch first, then fill out this sheet with the important details. (Really I just wanted them to read some more 🙂 and be able to chat more as a whole class, um…. I mean plane. Who wants to learn to surf in Costa Rica? Who is going to the Tabacón River to swim in the hot water? Who is going to walk in the jungle? Be careful, there are really really big bugs in the jungle in Costa Rica! Who is going to the beach first?
  3. Migration and Customs Forms: Of course they have to fill out the Tarjeta de migración…. I couldn’t find a Costa Rican one online, but I did find Venezuela with an excellent “How to fill out this form” and I just changed Venezuela to Costa Rica. Don’t tell anyone! My Flight attendants passed out this form, printed back to back.  and I explained how to fill out the form,  reminding them to write their birthday in Spanish, and talking about 2 last names in Spanish…all that great, fascinating culture stuff!
  4. In flight movie: My colleague Julie recommended this adorable short film set in Costa Rica called Temorada de Amor. I was planning on doing a Movie Talk and a Quick Write, but alas! We were nearly to Costa Rica and ready to begin our decent!
  5. Landing Video: Search YouTube to find a landing video for whereever you’re flying. Remind them they cannot stand up until you have arrived at the gate!
  6. Customs and immigration: I stood at the door and stamped their Tarjeta de migración as they deplaned, just as the bell was ringing.

My favorite part about teaching with comprehensible input is that we have so much freedom- there are so many ways to provide input.   Today I did the same thing I do every day, load up my little darlings with slow and comprehensible Spanish, but by changing the situation, it gave us so many possibilities to explore. It felt new and exciting and it was exactly what we needed at the end of the year!


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