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Historical Spanish Advertisements for the Language Classroom

Module by: Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson. E-mail the author

Summary: This module provides examples of authentic Spanish ads and sample questions that can be used in the Spanish language classroom.

Using authentic historical advertisements can provide a new dimension to the Spanish-language course. They not only provide an interesting glimpse into the past, but also expose students to historical vocabulary, cultural history, and various descriptive phrases. The structure of print advertisements lend themselves to learning about using visual clues before beginning to read and also include varied adjectives to describe the product or service.

Objectives

  • To learn about historical products/services
  • To identify descriptive words and phrases
  • To learn how to use pictures as clues when reading in Spanish
  • To identify verb tenses
  • To learn new vocabulary words
  • To use a Spanish-English dictionary

For special projects

  • To advertise a product/service in Spanish (written and/or verbal exercise)
  • To describe a product/service
  • To use a Spanish-English dictionary
  • To use a Spanish Thesaurus
  • To learn new vocabulary words
  • To work on writing/speaking skills

Figure 1: 19th century ad for Hotel Maverick
Hotel Maverick
Hotel Maverick

Sample questions

  • What product or service is being advertised?
  • What is unique or special about this product service, according to the advertisement?
  • Is this still used or is it out of date?
  • Is an address or location given for the store or service location? If so, what is it?
  • What verb tenses are used in the advertisement?
  • What words are new to you? Keep a list of new words and their definition/translation. Use a Spanish-English dictionary.

Sample projects

  • Create your own ad in Spanish for a historical product or service. Include a picture and use adjectives to describe your product/service. Use a Spanish-English dictionary and/or a Spanish Thesaurus.
  • Create your own ad in Spanish for a modern product or service. Include a picture and use adjectives to describe your product/service. Use a Spanish-English dictionary and/or a Spanish Thesaurus.
  • Translate the Spanish ad. Use a Spanish-English dictionary for words you don't know.
  • Oral presentation: Write a script for a radio/tv ad for this historical product/service and present it to the class. Use a Spanish-English dictionary and/or a Spanish Thesaurus.
  • Oral presentation: Write a script for a radio/tv ad for your product/service and present it to the class. Use a Spanish-English dictionary and/or a Spanish Thesaurus.

All these projects can be done individually or in a group.

Figure 2: Image from a 19th century Peerless printing press ad
Peerless Press
PeerlessPress

Resources

19th century ads can be found in the digital book linked above, "De México a Chicago y Nueva York: guía para el viajero en la que se describen las principales ciudades y ferrocarriles." They are found toward the end of the book (starting on page 758) and vary in length and difficulty. Both the transcription and page image are provided (click on thumbnail for image).

Figure 3: 19th century ad for a jeweler and watchmaker
PE Kern ad
Relojero

Here are some suggestions:

  • Fábrica de sombreros, p.759
  • Cajas de seguridad, p. 761
  • Dentista, p. 762
  • Pasta Oriental, p. 763
  • Agencia internacional mexicana de mejoras, p. 765
  • 3 ads: State National Bank,EA Stuart & Co., Grand Central Rooms, p. 769
  • 2 ads: PE Kern Joyero y Relojero, Jno. Brunner sastre, p.771
  • Cosmopolitan Dispensary, p.772
  • Chicago Cottage Organ Co. p.773-776
  • El Ferrocarril Baltimore & Ohio p.777
  • Story & Clark Organ Co., p. 778
  • various Emerson Pianos ads, p. 782-785
  • The Clyde Steamship Co., p. 787
  • 3 ads: Sastre e Importador, Girsch & Roehsler litógrafos, Hotel Maverick p. 789
  • The Clyde Steamship Co., p. 787
  • Prensa Peerless, p. 791
  • Cortadora Peerless, p. 792
  • John Peerless Works, p. 793

For more advertisements, see Los Estados Unidos: descripciones de viaje, starting on page 337 to the end.

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