Celebrations of Independence in the Hispanic World: History & Resources for SLPs

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Mid-September to mid-October marks the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries that include Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Chile. and Brazil. Living in California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas makes it somewhat easier to remember that Mexico gained its independence from Spanish ruling on September 16, 1810. The movement was accomplished through the efforts of leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, almost 200 years ago. A table at the end of this column includes listings of other leaders of independence of several Latin American countries.

The Webster dictionary defines INDEPENDENCE as “the state of quality of being independent, freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another or others.” It is a term frequently used to refer to one’s ability to manage one’s life as well as being applied to the fundamental rulings of governments. Regrettably but realistically, the course of civilization has been lead by wars and fights to gain independence from other governing parties.


The concept of INDEPENDENCE can serve as a thematic approach to develop lesson plans to meet speech and language goals Furthermore, the work done in therapy can serve to reinforce class discussions centering on this topic.

The SLP will need to modify the breath and depth of the topic depending on the age/grade level as well as ability of the students. Some suggestions follow: In any event, selecting a book about one of the heroes of a country’s independence is helpful in reinforcing the students’ oral and written language skills.

A few titles that I have been able to find in the Internet include…

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson (1993)
Raintree Steck-Vaughn
ISBN# 0-8172-2905-1
A biography of Miguel Hidalgo, the Mexican priest who led his Indian followers to revolt against the Spaniards and became known as “The Father of Mexican Independence.” Spanish/English text

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla: Father of Mexican Independence
Frank De Varona
1993-The Millbrook Press
ISBN# 1-56294-370-7
Ages: 4-8.
Relates the life story of Miguel Hildalgo, the Mexican priest who became an activist in working to free Mexico from Spanish rule.

Miguel Hidalgo (Biografias Para Niños)
Victor Hugo Reyes Maldonado
Paperback, 43 pages in Spanish only
Publisher: Selector
ISBN: 9706436200

An additional website to gain further information on Hidalgo is http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/kids/history/html/independ/biohidalgo.html
and in Spanish type: http://www.kokone.com.mx/tareas/mono/indepen/como/home.html

Simon Bolivar
Dennis Wepman
1992-Holiday House
A biography of the South American statesman, revolutionary, and general who liberated several countries from Spain. Recommended for Grades 2-4

Simon Bolivar
Jan Gleiter, Kathleen Thompson, Tom Redman
Publication Year: 1989 Raintree Pub
Ages: 4 – 8
ISBN: 0817229027

For a brief outline on Latin American Countries you can type: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/l/la/latin_america.htm

Books can serve as “powerful pillars” to achieve speech/language therapy goals. A few ideas follow and many more can be created.

  1. Use the biographies as targets to discuss the concept of independence.
  2. Make a list of the students’ input and engage the students in thinking about similarities and differences between their ideas.
  3. Brainstorn about the characteristics of a “leader “. Ask the students to list some persons they feel are leaders and ask why they think so.
  4. If you have two different book versions of a given leader like Hidalgo or Bolivar, compare and contrast the points focused in each version.
  5. With younger children work through the content of each book by looking at the pictures first while asking them for their feedback.
  6. If some of your students are working on certain sound patterns, select some words that could be helpful for them to practice at the phonological as well as grammatical levels.
  7. Working on this unit can also serve to instruct students on how to best understand the content of a book or how to describe and write about the deeds of a leader.

Argentina José de San Martín 1853
Bolivia Simon Bolívar 1809
Brazil Prince Dom Pedro I Sept. 8, 1822
Chile José de San Martín and Bernard O’Higgins September 18, 1818
Colombia Francisco de Paul Santander and José de San Martín. 1819
Cuba José Marti/Refer to Spanish/American War 1902
Ecuador Simón Bolívar-then became an independent nation 1822-1830
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras First as United Provinces of Central America then became independent in 1840. September 15, 1821
Mexico Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla September 16, 1810
Nicaragua First as United Provinces of Central America then became independent in 1854, September 15, 1821
Panamá Joined the Gran Colombia of Simón Bolivar. Refer to historical events including the political impact of the canal. 1821
Paraguay Government defeated Spanish rule. 1811
Perú José de San Martín and Simon Bolivar. 1821
Uruguay Initially annexed to Brazil then became an independent country. 1828
Venezuela Simón Bolivar –full independence was not gained until later because was part of other neighboring countries. 1811


Please be sure to read the October ¿Qué Tal? column
The American Continent: Discovery or Rediscovery?

As always, I do welcome your comments.

Henriette W. Langdon, Ed.D., F-CCC-SLP
Communicative Disorders & Sciences
College of Education
San José State University
San José, CA 95192-0079
408-924-4019 voice
408-924-3641 fax


Gracias – Thank you.

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