Why I Stopped Trying So Hard to Get My Students to Speak Spanish

Why I Stopped Trying So Hard to Get My Students to Speak Spanish

 Inside: Shifting our thinking on speaking in the language classroom, and creating space for confident speaking.

 

As a new teacher, I was determined to get my students speaking. Everybody wants to get their students speaking, right? It’s the holy grail of language class, basically. 

I mean, why the heck else are we teaching Spanish, if not to produce students who can speak it? And yet… one of the biggest frustrations is students who don’t speak, don’t stay in the TL, or don’t participate.

For me, the most dramatic improvements in speaking came when I let go of “getting my students to speak up.”

WHAT? Ok, bear with me. 

In those early days, I was frustrated that my students weren’t speaking in Spanish like I’d hoped. They were holding side conversations in English; they clammed up when I asked questions. Even my eager students barely spoke up. What was I doing wrong?

I was tempted to blame them. They had bad attitudes, or were lazy. I needed to be stricter about “Spanish only.” I needed to immerse them more, set a higher standard, you know?

Try harder! If you don’t speak, you won’t learn Spanish. 

So I implemented systems. Tickets, charts, punishments. You know the drill. And still– I wasn’t getting the spontaneous communication I wanted. 

Finally, I began to wonder if the reason was deeper. Maybe it was deeper than not having good enough systems, or fancy enough rewards and consequences.

And one day, I stopped trying so hard to “get them to speak.” I started focusing on making our time together compelling and meaningful.  I had been trying to pull my little plants to make them grow faster. I stopped measuring their growth constantly; I started focusing on the soil, the water, and the sun: the parts I could actually control. 

 

 
Proficiency, Acquisition, and Comprehensible Input
 
 
 
(Before I dive in, I KNOW some classes are difficult and just harder than others. I know some classes aren’t staying in the TL language, and it’s a discipline issue. I know students aren’t passive plants. I’ll address this at the very end of the post, don’t worry!)
 
But I also believe that most students, deep down, are attracted to meaning. They want to communicate. They have things they care about, and want to feel successful in class. 
 
So what was I doing wrong?
 
 
 

6 Ways I Was Sabotaging Speaking in Class

 

 

1. Inappropriate Expectations.

 

As a new teacher, my expectations for output were way too high. No wonder my students shut down! I was doing so many activities they couldn’t be successful with, no matter their determination.
 
When I became familiar with the ACTFL guidelines, I was shocked. It was also a huge breath of fresh air. Novice-low was expected to produce lists, not full spontaneous sentences with perfectly conjugated verbs? WHAT? Here’s what the ACTFL has to says about Novice speaking levels:
 
“Novice-level speakers can communicate short messages on highly predictable, everyday topics that affect them directly. They do so primarily through the use of isolated words and phrases that have been encountered, memorized, and recalled. Novice-level speakers may be difficult to understand even by the most sympathetic interlocutors accustomed to non-native speech.”
It wasn’t lack of rigor, then— in fact, my imagined rigor was probably producing rigor-mortis. I had to re-adjust my expectations, re-work many activities, add lots of visual supports, and really re-work how I spoke to them.
 
For my novices, my questions were often too open-ended, so that even when they wanted to respond, they didn’t have enough language to do so (which made them feel like they were “behind” or “bad at languages,” and increased the fear factor). When I began rely heavily of yes/no questions, either/or, and one-word answers, participation shot up. I became more skilled at differentiating as I communicated, as well– adjusting individual questions to a particular students level.
 
 
 

2. Over-Emphasis on Accuracy.

 
Back when I taught with my textbook, the backbone of my units were grammar points. Instead of providing rich, whole language, we were hyper-focused on something like ser vs. estar, or memorizing the irregular preterites. So when my students spoke, they were trying to construct rules and piece together bits of language, while worrying it would come out wrong. 
 
This paralyzed them, obviously. When explicit grammar lessons took a backseat, I naturally switched to giving them whole language from the beginning. I didn’t present ser as a conjugation chart: I introduced it as “Mira clase, hay una chica. ¿Es alta or baja?” And bam— in the first week of Spanish they were responding in phrases, just like that: “¡Es alta!”  without mentally running through a conjugation chart to land on es. When I laid off the explanations and just told them what a phrase meant, they ran with it.
 
The day I realized ACTFL classified consistently conjugating verbs correctly as an advanced-level skill I felt FREE. Accuracy has a place, but it’s a small place in novice-intermediate levels. An over-emphasis on accuracy, will hamper risk-taking and fluidity in speaking. This quote says it better than I can:

I would humbly submit to you that many teach grammar and syntax as prerequisite knowledge for communication. I contend that this notion is misguided, at best, and leads us down the wrong path instructionally. Grammar and syntax are important, not for the creation of communication, but rather for the avoidance of miscommunication.
– Jon De Mado, On the Role of Grammar

 
 

3. Not Centering the Course on High-Frequency Words.

 
When I followed my textbook to a T, we learned ar, er, and ir verbs in-depth because they were “easier” than irregular verbs like “gustar” or “tener.” It was months before we got to those. 
 
I suppose the textbook was arranged that way because the thinking goes how can you use and understand a word you couldn’t explain/dissect? (Even though my two-year-old could, just like most English speakers can use do and does quite accurately, without being able to explain why.)
 
But how the heck can you have a interesting conversation without gustar? Once I focused FIRST on high-frequency verbs, the change was huge. We could talk about SO MANY THINGS. We could get the gist of SO MANY authentic songs and #authres. If students know even twenty core words, so much can be said.
 
 

4. Phony Conversation Topics. 

 
My students are human beings. They are actually dying to talk and communicate: it’s why I have to make rules about side conversations. They LOVE sharing their opinions and talking about themselves. 
 
They’re just not dying to talk about inane topics. Before I centered my program on high-frequency words, we were stuck in really unnatural partner activities and conversation. Every teacher– no matter the method– can fall into the land of boring and pointless conversation.
 
So I began a new rule of thumb: if we wouldn’t talk about it in English, why would we talk about it in Spanish? If the game wouldn’t be fun in English, why are we playing it in Spanish?  I began choosing games that were so fun, they wanted to speak Spanish— not because they were practicing, but because they were lost in the fun of the task (= game, in this instance). Mafía, Mano Nerviosa, Manzanas a Manzanas, and the Circumlocuation game are good examples of this. 
 
I am by no means 100% successful here, but I’ve learned to take a step back if a class discussion is bombing: is it really that my students are being uncooperative, or did I just ask a dumb question? Are we dealing with bad attitudes, or would I also be crying inside if I had to talk about this for 20 minutes?
 
 

5. Lack of Focus on Input.

 
Ironically, when I had an output-focused mindset, the output was worse. When we did lots of memorized dialogues, presentational tasks, paired partner speaking, and games that “practiced” speaking, the output suffered. You can actually acquire a language on some level, without speaking. You can’t speak a language without massive input, though. 
 
When I let go of “getting my students to speak Spanish,” I focused my energy on fantastic, compelling input. I gave them tons and tons of things to read. I told them stories and held conversations, and we watched movies and listened to songs. I zeroed in on what my students cared about.
 
I stopped the endless quizzes to know what they’d memorized the night before. I stopped thinking they could memorize their way into fluency. My assessment in the lower levels became more relaxed and unrehearsed (“tell me about your family”) as I began to search for what language had made its way into their minds, and could naturally flow out. 
 
And guess what? The output blossomed. When I let go of “getting my kids to produce,” they largely spoke when they were ready. 
 
 

6. Changing My Immersion Mindset.

 
When I clung to the idea of immersion, I was not understanding that all input is NOT equal. Comprehension was more important than immersion. My immersion was a lot of noise. It made my students shut down. When I allowed myself to speak English, I found that 10% of class spent in English made the 90% REALLY effective. To me, 90% of class time in Spanish that is comprehended Spanish is better than 100% of class time in Spanish that is only 70% comprehended. 
 
(This isn’t to say that teachers who do 100% immersion are wrong— as long as they’re getting 90%-100% comprehension, we’re on the same track. I just found that allowing myself 10% in English meant a rich 90% in Spanish. It may be I haven’t developed the skills to do this!)
 
 

Conclusion  

 
I don’t mean to paint my classroom as rainbows and unicorns— there was/is still a range. There were still students who didn’t gush over Spanish and decided not to take Spanish 3. And in the end, our students are not passive plants. They can choose to pay attention and participate, or not. 
 
So in the end, I STILL found some of speaking-in-the-TL systems helpful. Why? 
 
First: I speak Spanish. And yet, with my friends who are native English speakers but also speak Spanish, we chat in Spanish. People by nature revert to what is easiest and most comfortable, so most people need accountability. 
 
Second, there will always be classes whose departure from the TL is a character issue. Sometimes it is a discipline issue, and sometimes an issue of laziness.
 
I keep my systems lighthearted, like a game, and celebrate their speaking like a crazy. I gush over bravery in speaking, and celebrate them. 
 
One year, in the spring, I told a level-2 class they would get ten minutes to watch extra, at the end of the period. If they unlawfully spoke English, I’d erase a minute. If I slipped up and said anything in English, they got an extra minute. We had so much fun with this, and it worked for that last stretch of the school year when everyone was stir crazy. 

My favorite post with ideas for target-language accountability is this quick one one from Sherry, at Secondary Spanish Space, and then her longer post at World Language Café

 
I would love to hear your thoughts too. Let me know in comments below!
 
 

 

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Fun Spanish Learning Games for Kids (Preschool & Early Elementary)

Fun Spanish Learning Games for Kids (Preschool & Early Elementary)

Inside: Spanish learning games for kids (preschool and elementary). 

 

I have a ton of Spanish learning games I’ve collected over the years. But I’ve been missing a list just for younger kids! 

Here are games that are easy to explain, not-too-competitive, and require more listening than speaking. These are best for preschool and early elementary, before drawing and writing skills are ready to go. 

Little learners have tiny attention spans. In my experience, they’re even shorter in a foreign language class. So keep it moving along, and end the game if the interest is waning.  Anytime you are working with young kids, I recommend lots of songs, puppets, and movements. If you are looking for preschool, you may want to see my Spanish preschool series

 

Spanish Learning Games for Kids

 

1. Musical Cards

 

This one is similar to musical chairs, and requires a set of cards with images of the target vocabulary. 

If you are studying numbers, for example, hand out number cards to all of the students. (It’s okay if several students have the same number.) Turn on music and allow them to move around. When the music stops, call out a number. Whoever has that number sits down, and play continues until one student (or one number) is left!

(I saw this game discussed in the Facebook Group Teaching Spanish to Children, run by Munde de Pepita. Definitely join if you haven’t already!)

 

2. Where is the button?

 

Again, prep a set of picture cards. (Credit to Susan O’Donnell Bondy for the idea!)

Have the students sit in a circle, and spread the cards out, face up, in the middle of the circle. Tell the students close their eyes, and hide a cut-out of a button (or whatever object you choose) under a card. The students take turns guessing which card it’s under. This sounds like an output-heavy activity (the students have to say the word), but you can provide a ton of input here: A ver, ¿está debajo del queso? ¡No, no está debajo del queso! ¿Dónde está? Or, if someone says el pollo, point to the zanahoria  and ask, ¿Éste? ¡Ay no, no es el pollo!

Susan shared that she has a chant that her students do. In Spanish, it could be something like Boton-cito, boton-cito, ¿dónde está?

 

3. Bingo

 

Bingo is fun for all ages, but doesn’t always work with younger crowds. If your students aren’t able to grasp the concept of 4-in-a-row, simply play to fill the boards, without a winner. They’ll still enjoy playing, and it’s a great listening activity. 

 

4. What’s missing?

 

I’ve played this one for a long time, but I love Julie’s take on this one from Mundo de Pepita. Read her post for a full explanation, but here is the basic explanation of how I play: have a set of objects or pictures in front of the students. Have them close their eyes (or turn away!), and remove one object. They open their eyes, and guess which object is gone. 

You can maximize the language opportunity here by chatting about their guesses. ¿La manzana? ¡Uy, la manzana está aquí! No es la manazana… ¿qué es, clase?

Spanish learning games

 

5. ¿Qué hay en la bolsa?

 

This is another fun guessing game, and best if it’s a real object or toy. I like to call up one student to put their hand in the bag, and feel they object. They can guess what it is, and if the answer isn’t correct another student gets to try guessing. 

For slightly older classes who know some basic like colors, big, small, you could also give them clues about what’s in the bag, and have them take some guesses after each clue. 

 

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The Numbers in Spanish for Kids: Fun Learning Activities

The Numbers in Spanish for Kids: Fun Learning Activities

Inside: Lesson and activities to learn the numbers in Spanish with kids.

Lesson 11 Goals: I can count 0-15 in Spanish.

Target Structures: cero, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, trece, catorce, quince

(Secondary terms: el mono, la cama, se cae)

Click to see my outline of Preschool Spanish Lessons for Los pollitos dicen. (Each lesson provides enough material for multiple classes.)

Review: Sings the songs learned so far, ¿Cómo te llamas? ball chant.

Movement/brain breaks: Stretch with our movement words: levántate, siéntate, manos arriba, and manos abajo, corre and salta, Duck, Duck, Goose in Spanish, or ¡Salta, salta!

 

Lesson 5 Numbers in Spanish Activities

 

Activity 1

 

Introduce numbers 1-5 with the song Cinco monitos. 

 

Activity 2

 

Act out the song Cinco monitos with props or finger puppets. You could choose someone for mamá, and someone for el doctor. Use props like a phone or stethoscope if you have them. Sing or play the song, and let them act out. To make it super-visual, lay down a sheet for la cama, and they act out saltando and se cae.

Or, print out my freebie Cinco monitos titeres, and act out the song that way. 

cinco monitos

 

 

Activity 3

 

Once numbers 1-5 are down, choose a song for the numbers 1-10, or 1-20. There are many to choose from on YouTube (linked below!) You could also sing to the tune of One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians as Uno, dos, tres pollitos (or monitos!). Finger puppets are provided in the activity pack for either way. You can line up the students, and they lift their puppet finger as part of the song.

 

Activity 4

 

Play an alternative to”Musical Chairs.” Hand out enough number cards for everyone (it’s fine if some students have the same numbers). Play music and the students can dance or walk around. When the music stops, call out a  number. Whoever has that number sits down. The last ones standing win.

Supplemental Numbers in Spanish Resources:

Another cama song like Cinco monitos, with numbers 1-10 this time:

Song for learning numbers 1-20:

Authentic children’s song in Spanish (Chocolate) that repeats 1, 2, and 3:

Another classic children’s song in Spanish with counting:

And one more authentic song in Spanish with numbers!:

Want More?

Click to purchase the whole unit. You’ll get games, printables, mini-books, and more!

With Unit 4, you’ll get a class set of game cards and Bingo for numbers 0-15. You can also make mini-books, on the Cinco monitos, and with farm animals. 

Buenas Noches: A Preschool Goodnight in Spanish Lesson

Buenas Noches: A Preschool Goodnight in Spanish Lesson

Inside: A preschool lesson with activities for good morning and goodnight in Spanish, sleeping and waking up, with activities for Spanish learners.

Lesson 10 Goals: I can talk about sleeping and waking up.

Target Structures: duerme, se despierta, les da, busca, la cama, el oso (review: buenas noches, buenos días)

Click to see my outline of Preschool Spanish Lessons for Los pollitos dicen. (Each lesson provides enough material for multiple classes.)

Review: Sings the songs learned so far, ¿Cómo te llamas? ball chant

Movement/brain breaks: Stretch with our movement words: levántate, siéntate, manos arriba, and manos abajo, corre and salta, Duck, Duck Goose in Spanish, or ¡Salta, salta!

 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Lesson 10 Buenas Noches Activities

Activity 1

 

Show and discuss the mini-story Pablito no duerme.

To prep the story, you might gather some common items children sleep with and talk about them, or have the kids bring a special item they like to take to bed. You could also do a class graph: ¿Duermes con un oso? ¿Duermes con una manta especial?

In this story, the little boy asks for several things before going to sleep. After telling the story, it would be fun to act it out with props, and have a child pretend to be going to bed. You could change some of the details (for example, his mom doesn’t give him a cookie– she gives him an apple). 

 

Activity 2

 

Play a version of Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?, to get in repetitions of duerme, despiértate, and busca. To go along with the unit, we’ll call it Gallina, gallina, ¡busca tu pollito! Here’s how to play!

You Need:

  • A small cut-out of a pollito (a small object will suffice if you don’t have that prepped)
  • A chair, facing away from the rest of the group

To Play:

  • Teacher picks one child to be the “gallina.” The rest of the class sits in a circle or in chairs. 
  • Teacher tells the gallina: “¡duerme!” with the pollito under the chair. 
  • One student is picked form the group to walk up and quietly grab the pollito, then sit back down with the pollito hidden. 
  • Teacher tells the gallina: “¡despiértate!” The gallina has to guess who has the pollito. 
  • The class chants: “Gallina, gallina, ¡busca tu pollito!”
  • The gallina gets 3 chances to guess who has it.
  • If the gallina can’t guess, the class says where it is. Then pick another student!

 

 

Activity 3

 

Show and tell the story Los pollitos y su mamá. This is a long story! Review the vocabulary and make sure that everything is already familiar for your students. 

Activity 4

 

You could also supplement this lesson with the book Buenas noches, Gorila.

Spanglish Schoolhouse has a lesson and cute freebie to go with this book:

Supplemental Buenas noches/ buenos días Activities and Resources

Here are some sweet books for read alouds:  

A collection of Spanish lullabies and folk songs for bedtime, all on YouTube:

spanish lullabies

A nice, clear song with buenas noches repetitions:

Includes buenos días, buenas tardes, and buenas noches:

Pocoyó episode on going to bed, that goes along well with the story Pablito no duerme (also has a pato, which the kids should recognize as they listen!). You could listen to the original and pause to talk about it, or turn the sound down and narrate the video yourself .

Peppa Pig episode on nocturnal animals (especially fun if you have my Unit 4 packet, which studies nocturnal animals!):

Peppa Pig episode on a sleepover with friends. The language is complicated, so you might have to narrate quite a bit:

A silly, highly comprehensible song that teachers me gusta/no me gusta:

Want More?

Click to purchase the whole unit. You’ll get games, printables, mini-books, and more!

In Unit 4, I also have extension activities for reinforcing good morning and good night activities in Spanish. There are PPTs, printables, and a mini-book that study nocturnal animals versus those that eat during the day. 

Thanksgiving in Spanish: Your Mega-Collection of Classroom Ideas

Thanksgiving in Spanish: Your Mega-Collection of Classroom Ideas

Inside: A round-up of classroom ideas for Thanksgiving in Spanish.

Are you wondering how to handle the week of Thanksgiving in Spanish class? If half of the students are gone anyway, should we hand out a bunch of worksheets and call it a week? I’m not one to judge: I know it’s what an exhausting time of year it is.

Thanks to embracing comprehensible input, I no longer view holidays as isolated themes– time to teach some random vocabulary that won’t come up again until the next year. Nope! As long as we make in comprehensible, any theme can work for any student. That said, I do think it’s okay to accept that a few days of the year won’t be as content-packed as the others. If you’re going to do something like a craft, holidays are a good time to do them.

But let’s not re-invent the wheel. I’ve gathered some awesome resources to make the most of the week, with a little bit of everything, for everyone.

Here are some ideas for a typical Thanksgiving week:

Monday: Story, MovieTalk, and/or discussion. Pick one of the videos and infographics below, and plan your classes around it– even if you have different levels! Just adjust your own language to each group.

Tuesday: Craft day or hands-on day, if you’re planning to do one. From Monday, you probably used terms like turkey, so you can bring them around again today. Pick songs to play in the background; talk about one if it’s helpful. With younger classes, a mini-book might work well.

Wednesday: Game day. Go easy on yourself this day; it’s probably a weird half-day. Celebrities, Mafia, or Categorías are all perfect for crazy schedules and ancy students! If you have younger ones, Ponle el sombrero en el pavo or Pavo, pavito might be fun.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Spanish Thanksgiving Activities

Easy & Fun Ideas

 

 

  • Ask or tell a funny Thanksgiving story: a turkey who tries to avoid ending up one the dinner table, a family member who tries to enact a vegan Thanksgiving, or mishaps on the way to spend the holiday at the cousins’ house.

 

  • Choose a song and just focus on a few keywords (like gracias!). Do a really easy listening activity like Draw, Listen, Check

 

  • Lots of teachers do the traditional turkey or leaf crafts. This of course is easy to adapt to the Spanish classroom: students write things they’re thankful for, in Spanish, on the leaves or feathers.
  • If you can, take it up a notch to make it more input-based: generate some options and talk about them. Brainstorm things that students are thankful for, boil them down to common themes among the students, and categorize in “necessities” and “luxuries.” Make it Comprehensible has a great explanation for how to set up and guide this sort of discussion so the students are getting lots of input.

 

  • Retell the original Thanksgiving story. Use a picture book, draw as you go (a la Story Listening), or use a video from below as your visual.

 

 

 

#authres

There are lots of infographics, songs, and video clips you can throw in during Thanksgiving week. These are fun to to prompt discussion and give the students a chance to see what they can understand from an authentic resource.

Credit: Speaking Latino

Credit: Infografias en Castellano

Visit my Thanksgiving in Spanish page on Pinterest to find lots more Thanksgiving in Spanish realia!

 

Songs

I have a whole post just on Thanksgiving songs for kids, if you’re teaching a younger crowd. This first song is nice because it uses the “Doy gracias por…” refrain that is part of many of the mini-books and crafts teachers like to do.

Día de acción de Gracias

 

If you’re looking for older kids, I love Mercedes Sosa and Gracias a la vida is a classic. Gracias has good repetitions of “gracias por…”, and Fonseca’s positive song Gratitud fits in perfectly if you’re doing a grateful-for theme. Or try this great Latino Thanksgiving playlist.

Gracias a la vida by Mercedes Sosa

 

Gracias – Silvestre Dangond & Juancho de La Espriella

 

Gratitud Fonseca

 

For Kids

Doy Gracias Mini-Pack (If you would like to purchase ready-to-go materials, I recommend this one from Mundo de Pepit! $3)

Free Spanish Doy Gracias Mini-Book

Free Bingo & Memory Games from Spanglish Baby

Free Doy Gracias Activities from Mrs. G Dual Language

Color-by-Number Turkey from Mix Minder

Five Crafts for Kids from Spanish Playground

Older Students

Spanish Turkey Glyphs (If you want to save time and purchase an activity, I recommend these glyphs from Sol.Azucar, available for a variety of proficiency levels. Students get to relax and color, plus lots of comprehensible input! $3)

A whole month of free Thanksgiving projects from La Profesora Frida

5 Ideas for Thanksgiving in Class from Sol.Azucar. I like the “Que linda manito” idea, especially!

Info in Spanish from Illinois University 

Free Activity Sheet to go with a reading of the Celebra día de acción de gracias con Beto y Gaby from Santilla

 

MovieTalks

These would make great MovieTalks for a Thanksgiving in Spanish day. You narrate the stories in language the students understand, discuss, possibly type up a reading, and voila– you have a high-interest, language-packed activity. 

 

 

Salt, sugar, cooking terms

 

Re-tell the Story

 

Retell the original Thanksgiving story, perhaps choosing a character from the perspective of the Native Americans, and one from the perspective of the Pilgrims. You could use this video for visuals (definitely address that it’s a simplified version– it glosses over the complicated story of colonization and it’s impact on native people in the Americas). If you like, contrast it with the version below.

 

 

#authres Movies

 

How Latino immigrants are adopting the holiday of Día de acción de gracias:

 

La historia de Thanksgiving en español (very much from the perspective of the Pilgrims, but fairly comprehensible with subtitles):

 

Report on Free Birds in Spanish:

 

La historia de Thanksgiving, en español:

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Spanish 

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Thanksgiving in Spanish Activities

Lesson 9: Simple Questions in Preschool Spanish

Lesson 9: Simple Questions in Preschool Spanish

Inside: A preschool lesson that introduce asking and answering questions in preschool Spanish, through comprehensible stories and input.

Lesson 9 Goals: I can answer very simple questions about myself.

 

Target Structures: busca, ve, eres, soy

Click to see my outline of Preschool Spanish Lessons for Los pollitos dicen. (Each lesson provides enough material for multiple classes.)

Review: Sings the songs learned so far and do the ¿Cómo te llamas? ball chant. If you are incorporating calendar time, ask about the day, the weather (¿Hace frío o ¿Hace calor?)

Lesson 9 Activities

Activity 1

In the previous eight units, the students have heard es many times. Today, we’ll start working with eres a bit, and try it out with our animal words.

Gather or make some farm animal masks (they’re included in a Unit 3 purchase). Call up a student to try a mask on. Point to them and say, “¡Eres una vaca!” You can ask them questions, too: “¿Eres un pollito? Eres un elefante?”

At the beginning, I don’t worry about answering with soy– sí o no is a good start. If you use this activity over several classes, you can add in asking the class: “Es un caballo?” Throw in other questions, of course, if you want: “El caballo dice muu? Es verde or marrón?” Then go back to the student, “¿Dices muu o nii?”

Activity 2

TPR ve and busca (attach motions to them). There are lots of little games you can play to practice these words. Here are some ideas:

  • Play “I spy” for ve. (If you want, you can play by saying “Veo un…” or “Veo con mi ojito pequeñito…”) Incorporate the colors, and big/small to give clues.
  • Hide some objects in the room. Say, “Uno, dos, tres, busca!” and they try to find them.
  • Have one student leave and give a small object to someone in the room. The student comes back, and everyone chants, “Uno, dos, tres, busca!” The student guesses who has it. You can give clues about which student it is by saying clothing colors.

Activity 3

Project and tell the story La gallina que busca a su pollito.

 

Activity 4

Story-tell using authentic books in Spanish. Oso pardo, oso pardo and ¿Eres mi mamá? would go well with lessons 7-9.

You *can* read the story in the full text, and let the kids see what language they recognize. I recommend narrating the book yourself, using only vocabulary that the students know. Since your students are probably non-readers, you are telling the story; they’re listening and enjoying the pictures.

If you’d like to hear the full story in Spanish, there are some read-alouds from native speakers below. You can always mute the sound and narrate yourself, too!

Stories for Activity 4:

 

Want More?

If you like this lesson, click to purchase the whole unit! You’ll get an editable skit, a printable mini-book, and more.

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