Spanish Learning Scenario:
Conflict Resolution

Authors: Ginger Cline & Ricci Hatten
Level: Advanced/Native Speaker

Using a variety of Web sites and a video clip, students are introduced to the topic of conflict resolution both as a social and a personal issue. They consider risk and protective factors and discuss different responses to conflict or stress in some Spanish-speaking countries. They also discover how conflict resolution skills are marketable professionally and enormously useful personally. Finally, students create posters and produce a skit illustrating what they have learned about conflict resolution issues.

ACTIVITY SET 1: Introducing the Topic
To introduce the topic of conflict resolution, students watch—without sound—a short video clip from Corte de Pueblo (a Spanish version of The People’s Court) in which a conflict is developing. (Stop the clip before a judgment is rendered.) In pairs, students spend one minute discussing the conflict they see evolving; then, the whole class watches the clip again with sound. This time they spend two minutes in pairs describing what they’ve seen and heard. Once all students have a general understanding of the video clip, the class lists on the board the behaviors they’ve observed in two categories: those they believe were helpful and those they believe were harmful. Students then vote on what they think the resolution will be before watching the rest of the video clip to see what the judge decides.

Next, the class considers a stressful “scenario” provided by the teacher, or they can be asked to provide a personal or hypothetical scenario instead. The scenario is used to help students complete a graphic organizer on ways people commonly respond to conflict or stress (see Expansion Ideas). Students share their responses with other groups as well as sharing personal experiences about how they’ve responded in situations of conflict.

ACTIVITY SET 2: Seeking Solutions
Now that the topic of conflict resolution has been introduced, students learn about methods for resolving conflict. In this activity, students investigate the Web site of a non-governmental organization in Colombia called Fundación Gamma-Idear (see Resources) that has been concerned about the number of people experiencing violence in their daily lives. This non-profit agency’s work has been realized primarily in Columbia. However, it has investigated factors that promote or prevent conflict resulting in violence and has developed an anti-violence initiative that is potentially universal. Students are asked to read and find answers to a series of questions (see Expansion Ideas). In asking these questions, they discover what the organization hopes to accomplish and learn more about risk and protective factors. (Risk factors include stress, normalized violence, experiences, etc.; competencies, relationships, and ethical beliefs are included among protective factors.) Students are encouraged to visit several of the links on the Web site that detail the results of the initiative. These links show positive feedback and continuing evaluation and improvement of the program.

After reflecting on what they’ve read, students personalize what they’ve learned by writing a journal entry on a topic such as the following:

  • Which protective factors do you have in your life? Describe how
    you acquired them or a time they have protected you.
  • What can you do to help a friend you think is being mistreated?

ACTIVITY SET 3: Resolving Conflict
Once students have learned about protective and risk factors related to conflict and violence, they begin to learn about conflict resolution using an online Web site from the Universidad Technológica Equinoccial of Quito, Ecuador. The eight chapters of the course (each 5–8 pages in length) are used in a way that best suits the individual class context. Students work in groups reading and presenting highlights of an assigned chapter; the class works together on all the chapters; or certain chapters or portions of chapters are assigned as time allows. Groups use their creative strengths to determine how they will share what they’ve learned with others in the class: a dramatic skit, a song or poem, a PowerPoint slide presentation, a list of bulleted points, etc. When all presentations have been completed, the class can complete the “tests” provided at the end of each chapter to see how well they understood.

ACTIVITY SET 4: Learning from Professionals
In this activity set, students discover that resolving conflicts is a marketable professional skill. As a class, students look at the Web site of a Spanish-speaking mediation specialist (see Resources) to determine basic information: Whose site is it? What is his job? Where is he? By clicking on the name at the end of the page, they discover he is a lawyer in Buenos Aires. Students are encouraged to infer what they can from the information given on the site. Next, working in groups, students find answers to such questions as: Who could use the information provided? What is private mediation? What are some of the client’s rights? What if mediation does not work? They are also encouraged to follow links on the page and then share their findings with classmates. Finally, students use what they’ve learned about the benefits of conflict resolution to create a television commercial advertising the services of this mediator. (They are encouraged to think about commercials they have seen for law firms.) Working in groups, pairs, or individually, students again use their creativity, props, and a video camera to record the commercials which are replayed for the whole class. (On the Web site, the mediator’s name is a link to an ad for his services. After students have created their own commercials, they might enjoy seeing his ad.)

Many professionals such as judges, mediators, counselors, police officers, lawyers, sales persons, etc. use conflict resolution skills in their work. To connect more personally to the target culture community, a Spanish-speaking professional is invited to class to talk to students about the benefits of conflict resolution. Students prepare questions in advance, and afterwards, they select a written assignment to complete: a thank you letter for the guest speaker, a list of rules by which the person would expect clients to abide, etc.

ACTIVITY SET 5: Putting it All Together
The following activities provide students an opportunity to express, orally and in writing, what they’ve learned about conflict resolution. First, they create posters with slogans in Spanish and visuals promoting a conflict resolution skill or awareness of an issue they have identified in the previous activities. Posters are displayed in the school.

Next, students have an opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice. The teacher prepares note cards describing a scene where conflict is likely and indicating that the resolution should be either win-win, win-lose, or lose-lose. In small groups, students draw a card and prepare their skit. Each scene is acted out, and the class identifies what kind of result was obtained. When circumstances warrant, they also discuss how the resolution could have been win-win.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Concept of Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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  • Computer with Internet access
  • VCR and video clips of Corte de Pueblo
  • Video camera and blank videotapes
  • Props for making a “commercial”
  • Guest speaker

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met


Communication: The interpretive mode is used as students read, gather information from and analyze texts and spoken presentations. The interpersonal mode is used as students work collaboratively to brainstorm, verify gathered information, share personal experiences, interview a guest, and analyze data. Students use the presentational mode in sharing their TV commercials, presentations, skits and written communications.

Cultures: Students learn about target culture products and practices such as the use of professional mediators and the legal system to resolve conflicts, and they understand target culture perspectives on violence.

Connections: Students use the target language to access information through Internet resources, a television program, and a guest speaker. They connect to social studies through the study of conflict resolution.

Comparisons: Students compare their own responses to stress/violence and conflict resolution with that of some Spanish-speaking countries.

Communities: Students connect with the Hispanic community through the Internet and the guest speaker. They use Spanish to learn about a potential career in mediation.

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Expansion Ideas

  • Several of Ana María Matute’s works on social conflict would provide a wonderful springboard for the discussion of conflict resolution. Consider also the historical conflict between social classes in Mexico and the U.S. (Look for information on César Chávez, the colonization of Texas by Anglos, and the subsequent acts of injustice toward Hispanics, for example.)
  • After students watch the Corte de Pueblo video, ask them to imagine that the characters in the video clip are different (both female, both of another race, both older or younger, one rich and one poor, etc.) and to suggest what might be different. Present findings by Ruby Payne, nationally recognized speaker and author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, on how different social classes view and respond to conflict. Ask students to verify their predictions in light of her research or verify her research in light of their own opinions or experience (see
  • To support Activity Set 1, use a table (see Resources for a sample) to graphically organize the ways people respond to conflict or stress.
  • Questions for Activity Set 2 Web readings include the following. On the first page of the site: Where is this program being developed? What do they hope to accomplish? On the second page of the site, there is a chart of risk factors and protective factors. Define each factor, give examples, or illustrate what each factor might refer to. (Choose the response method that best suits the abilities of the students.) There are four types of weapons listed. Illustrate each and tell what kind of damage they can cause. What would happen to the person who uses the “weapon” and the person it is used on? On the third page of the site, the chart of risk factors and protective factors is elaborated. Verify your predictions from page 2. Which are the same? Which are different? Do you think any of your differences should be added to their list? Explain.
  • Students write in a journal. What would make you fight? What would you do in this (give one) situation?
  • Students assume the rationale of the Colombian organization of the Web site on Activity Set 2 and look for comparative data on violence in the U. S. and other countries. Colombia was alarmed to find such overwhelming statistics on domestic violence in their country. (Students may be interested in an article—Ann Landers in the Dallas Morning News, 7/24/01—with statistics about guns being a major killer of children and youth in the United States.) Students present a summary or highlights of the data they find in Spanish.
  • Students learn peer mediation techniques and hold mock mediations. Ask about involving the established peer mediation program of the school.

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Sample Table for Activity Set 1

Behavior Consequences for both parties specifically and if they are win-win, win-lose, or lose-lose When the behavior is appropriate Alternative behaviors
Call names      
Clam up      


NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.

Activity Set 2


Activity Set 3

  • (link no longer active 11/2008)

Activity Set 4




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