What is Cinco de Mayo?

One of the my favorite parts of teaching language is not only when our students start to independently form words and sentences, but also when they stand as proponents of multicultural understanding.  I like to give my students a challenge every Cinco de Mayo: for every person they run into that calls it “Mexican Independence Day,” be the person to educate them on the true history of the holiday!

To make a long story short, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla against the French in 1862.  The French both wanted to collect monetary debt owed to them by Mexico and establish a monarchy in Mexico.  In the infamous battle in Puebla, few ill-equipped Mexican soldiers defeated many well-armed French soldiers.  Mexico eventually lost the war, but Cinco de Mayo was declared a national holiday.

Our curriculum considers cultural education an important part of what we teach. Below is a piece of a Cinco de Mayo activity written into one of our intermediate levels:

El 5 de mayo

Narrador: Hace muchos años en el estado de Puebla en México, empezó una batalla. Durante la batalla, los mexicanos lucharon con mucho valor y honor. Recordamos su valentía con la celebración del “5 de mayo”. Aquí está la historia…

Benito Juárez: Soy el líder de México y dedico mi vida a este país. Tenemos un problema en México. No tenemos dinero. ¿Dónde podemos encontrar más dinero?

Napoleón: Soy Napoleón. Soy el líder de Francia. Yo quiero lo mejor para mi país.

(For the full dialogue, contact us for a lesson plan trial!)

Narrador: Así que, Francia le presta mucho dinero a México. México usa el dinero para la agricultura, la industria, y para ayudar a la gente del país. Después de varios años, Napoleón le dice a Benito Juárez…

(For the full dialogue, contact us for a lesson plan trial!)

Benito Juárez: Este día es un día muy especial. ¡Tenemos que celebrar!

General Zaragoza: ¡Tienes razón! Tenemos que celebrar la valentía de la gente mexicana.

If you click here, you can see how a group of our students took the historical information they learned and created their own dialogue!


Regardless of how (or if) you choose to recognize Cinco de Mayo in your own classroom this year, challenge your students to use their new knowledge outside of the classroom!