Planning the novel Problemas en Paraíso

This year another novel I am teaching for the first time as a class is Problemas en Paraíso. It is an older novela that I have used it in literature circles with great success. The students who had the book thought it was funny, entertaining and had an exciting plot. We will be using it second quarter of Spanish 3. You can see my full tentative curriculum plan here. Update here are chapter by chapter plans for Problemas.
Planning the novel Problemas en Paraíso

I have the Problemas Teacher’s Guide, but it is obvious why this guide is so much less expensive than the newer ones. It is from 2010 and is very basic. It has good discussion questions, but the authentic and relevant cultural component I usually love about the guides is missing. I am working to try and piece together more cultural resources to make this a full unit. The book is mostly set in Mexico and some of the possible themes or topics that could be pulled from this book are: dating, travel, resorts vs. real Mexico, narcos and abduction.
This novel could be taken in many different ways. It could be a fun fluff book talking about dating, travel and the pretty resorts of Mexico, or it could dig deep in the drug trade, wars, and abductions. My goal is to try and mix the two, while also connecting to current events in Mexico. I have personally been to Mexico four times, once on a mission trip in Tijuana, where I saw the dark side working at an orphanage and soup kitchen, and three times to resorts in Playa del Carmen, Puerta Vallarta and Tulum. Each time I purposely left the resort to experience “real” Mexico. I want students to have a realistic and balanced view, that includes both the beauty of the coast, and the real deeper issues. I know some teachers do not want to talk about narcos for fear of perpetuating negative stereotypes, but if we ignore the elephant in the room we are not doing our jobs as Spanish teachers to get students thinking critically about their world. 
Here are some of the resources I have collected so far. Nothing is set in stone, and I would love any more suggestions you have to better balance out the unit. I am particularly looking for a film study to accompany the novel. 

Mexico – current news

Since this particular class was in the middle of a novel, when all of the natural disasters recently struck, we did not get a chance to really discuss them besides just our free reading of the news. Since we will be focusing on Mexico for this unit, I think it is important for students to understand current events in our country of study. I think we may informally start the unit with the Earthquake in Mexico readings from Martina Bex. There are also more earthquake materials here.


I am excited to use this song unit from Nelly Hughes. I just purchased it and it looks awesome. The song Yo te esperaré de Cali y el Dandee includes the theme of abduction and the additional resources included about abductions in Colombia would parallel well with what happens in the book. My plan is to do this song unit before starting the novel. 

Mexico – tourism

As we get into chapter 2 where they get to Mexico, I plan to show my own pictures from Mexico. Also here are fotos from Ixtapa, which I have not personally visited. 
Here are possible videos to show as well:


I am not sure how much I will do with narcoviolencia and narcotraficante in Mexico, but I will likely look to Kara Jacobs’ past units for guidance and ideas. 

Other Novel Resources

Chapter 3 – Cada oveja con su pareja – Martina Bex
What other resources do you know of that would work well with this unit? Please let me know!

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