Research papers are a good learning -- and testing -- activity for a Spanish class. Writing a research paper gives the students a practical and creative way to use the language -- each sentence poses a new creative problem to solve. Spain is such a rich and colorful country that writing projects that match a wide variety of interests are easy to find--and Spanish is also spoken in many other countries.
Countries Other Than Spain
There are a lot of countries other than Spain where Spanish is spoken. The differences in how Spanish is spoken in various countries supply materials for dozens of essays. For one thing, the "z" is pronounced "th" in Spain and nowhere else. There is a legend that this is due to a Spanish king who lisped, but some scholars disagree. It is true that this sometimes causes confusion for words like "casa"-- house -- and "caza"-- hunt. There are also dialect differences in the way Spanish is spoken in different South American countries that is a source for some amusing anecdotes.
The regions of Spain almost seem like different countries--each could be the subject of a Spanish class research paper. Andalusia is famous for flamenco, but also as an agricultural region and the home of Moorish monuments like the Alhambra. Catalan is the home of the Architect Antonio Gaudi -- and his unique style can be seen everywhere. It also has its own language and music. In the north of Spain is the mountainous region of the Basque. This region also has its own language and characteristic cuisine, which is completely different from the rest of Spain.
Spain has produced famous people in all human endeavors: explorers, artists, musicians and scientists. Some of the most famous explorers of the New World were Spanish, including Cortez, Coronado, De Soto and Ponce de Leon. Many other famous explorers sailed from Spain, including Balboa, Magellan, Columbus and Vespucci. Some of the most famous painters in the world came from Spain, including Picasso, Diego Rivera, Goya, Velazquez and Salvador Dali. Foremost among Spanish scientists is Santiago Ramon y Cajal -- the Nobel Prize Winner who first identified the fundamental cellular structure of the brain. Each and every one of these famous individuals could be the subject of an engaging research paper.
Spain is an agricultural region -- south of France and with a warmer climate. It is one of the major suppliers of fruits and vegetables to Europe. Like France, it has a rich and complex culinary tradition, ripe for a paper to be written that includes recipes and the history behind them. The only Spanish dishes known to most people are Piaia and horchata, but there are a rich array of meat and seafood dishes that are famous all over Europe. There are also recipes like Sangria (red wine, sugar and citrus fruits) that are enjoyed -- especially in Latin cultures -- all over the globe.