In a soap opera, everybody’s got ambición, pasión and, of course, secretos terribles — that is, ambition, passion and terrible secrets.
In Spanish, a soap opera is called a telenovela, or television novel. At Evergreen High School, teacher Matt Hanson has been working since last year with his advanced Spanish-language students to stage a play based on the classic Mexican telenovela “Cuidado con el ángel.” That’s a sprawling serial that broadcast 194 episodes between 2008 and 2009, and remains mega-popular in reruns and on video.
Video is where Hanson introduced his students to “Cuidado con el ángel,” or “Don’t Mess with the Angel.” They followed the spectacular and terrible crimes, loves and mysteries of doctors and judges, runaways and robbers, priests and prostitutes — all spoken in speedy Spanish and delivered in super-dramatic, soap-operatic style.
“It’s a great way to listen to language and learn about culture,” Hanson said. This is an increasingly popular strategy for teaching language called Total Physical Response Storytelling, he said, which emphasizes overall comprehension through immersion in tales.
Last year’s Advanced Placement Spanish class took up the big challenge of starting to slim down “Cuidado con el ángel” from 194 episodes into 80 minutes of stage time, Hanson said. Many of those students volunteered to return this year to keep the project moving forward with the new class.