¡Chanfle! Chespirito’s Legacy is Alive

I frequently struggle when deciding what videos to show my students. I want for their Spanish learning experience to be as culturally authentic as possible. Therefore, my first resource is to think of my own experiences growing up in Puerto Rico. What did I watch? What did I sing? What games did I play? Of course many years have passed since I was in fourth grade. But my students are immediately engaged the moment I tell them that what I am about to show them was part of my childhood.

So this week I decided to go on YouTube and check out some videos of the Chespirito shows. If you are one of the few people who don’t know who he was, Chespirito was the pseudonym used by Roberto Gómez Bolaños, a Mexican screenwriter and actor (just to name two of his many creative roles), who passed away last November. He was the creator of shows like “El Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulín Colorado.”

Growing up, my usual after school routine was to get home, eat a snack and watch the show that was broadcasted daily. As I grew older I didn’t make it home on time to watch the shows, and little by little I started forgetting about them. This week, as I browsed through the original episodes on YouTube, I was laughing like a kid again.

One particular song that touched my heart was “Joven Aún.” Of course I knew the words but the knowledge that I now have as an adult helps me appreciate it more. The chorus says:

“Si eres joven aún, joven aún, joven aún,

mañana viejo serás, viejo serás, viejo serás.

A menos que con afán, que con afán conserves

Tus inquietudes y así nunca envejecerás.”

(English translation)

“If you are still young, still young, still young,

tomorrow you will be old, you will be old, you will be old.

Unless you maintain your interests with eagerness

so that you don’t grow old.”

This particular song is from the late 70s. The lyrics could very well be from a song written today. On a daily basis, the Internet is filled with quotes about how age shouldn’t matter when pursuing your goals. If today, in 2015, we still have labels to define people by age, I can just imagine what it meant to encourage children to stay young at heart by having a positive attitude, and being lifelong learners, over forty years ago. At that moment I understood the wonderful legacy that Chespirito left through his work.

I then decided to take a chance and show an episode of “El Chapulín Colorado” to my fourth grade students, while I conducted one-on-one interpersonal assessments. And guess what? They loved it! To see them watch the video attentively and laugh hysterically at the clumsiness of “El Chapulín” just like I used to do, was priceless. More than the opportunity to learn a few phrases in Spanish, they were able to experience a little bit of my childhood and the one of so many children in Spanish speaking countries. At the end of the day, those are the moments that make me feel accomplished as a Spanish teacher. They might have trouble remembering some of the vocabulary words they are currently learning in the future. Yet, I am confident that they will never forget who “El Chapulín Colorado” is. So, like Chapulín would say “¡Síganme los buenos!” and let us consider the cultural value of Chespirito’s legacy and how we can incorporate it in our lessons.

¡Hasta pronto!


Copyright © 2015 Ericka Collado
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