Redefine your first weeks of Spanish class, and beyond!


How to use input-rich videos for structuring simple activities in Spanish class 

This week I decided to change things up a bit. This was my second week of classes, and I wanted to immerse my students as much as possible to the wonderful world of language. One of the limitations we may have in doing that in the lower-levels, is the lack of vocabulary and familiarity with Spanish. That's where this amazing Spanish video resource came in!

In keeping with my theme: Spanish Spanish from the very first day (check out these posts on "quick win" Spanish usage and cultural immersion), we took a plunged, and they loved it! Although the featured video is purely authentic, the words flashing across the screen, and the enthusiastic people from all walks of the Spanish-speaking world, made it culturally rich, and down-right enjoyable. I got a lot of mileage out of this video. Check out these free resource by clicking the link below:

Authentic Spanish Video Free Resource

You may also want to check out: 5 ways to get students talking from day 1!

This post will feature two activities that I have created around the use of basic level 1 Spanish. I struggled with teaching the first month of Spanish so I am really digging deep to make the experience as much as enjoyable as intellectually stimulating. The activities are designed to give students exposure to a wide range of simplified input that ties into the cultures of Latin America.

Los Saludos en Español

I found this great video about greetings and leave-takings in Spanish (Spanish in a Flash produced it). In this video, they interview a host of Spanish-speakers from different parts of Latin America. These people share what a typical greeting is like in their country. They are authentic, animated and of course natural in their sharing. The activity for this resource features a short reading with vocabulary, pictures of the speakers, and multiple-choice options based on their responses. We had a very good discussion, on why there are so many greetings (which are addressed in the one-page guidance notes, and in the short reading).

This video is very chévere because it:
  • Features people from all over
  • Has a wide range of diversity and races from Latin America
  • Is dialectically rich.
*I learned some new one from La República Dominicana. ¿Qué es lo que?

How am I using this resource?
  • My students will watch the video once without notes (Give them a chance to take it all in)
  • I asked them to share "observaciones." Most shared that there were may different ways to say "hi" or "how are you doing."
  • I engaged them in a conversation as to why that is, and then gave them examples of how we say "hi" in the US.
  • Ask students what greetings did they hear, where w
  • They watched a second time and third time, connecting the people with the greetings.
  • Click on Video
  • Download activity here.
Extension activity:
*First, I had students choose three of the greetings and go around class to greet three students. They was energetic and fun!
*Second, I had them create a dialogue (very basic) introducing themselves to other classmates. This was not memorized, and it was a lot of fun! Students added their own rejoinders (Spanish 1!), and they got a chance to introduce their classmates. Most importantly, they included some of these authentic expressions!

My journey this year to redefine the beginning of the year. If you have any suggestions or activity, please comment below and add your website.

New spin on teaching the date, and other boring things! Mix it up with these input-rich activities

Use this detective activity to practice dates, numbers, time and more in Spanish 1

Click here for activity!

I  am always looking for creative ways to teach important vocabulary and grammatical points that form the ABC's of learning Spanish.  I have become a detective in a way myself,  constantly looking for ways to spice up a lesson to deliver content that is original and fun for me as well.

I love role play, creating stories and dialogues that contextualize to such a way that students learn more than they bargain for incidentally. This method has earned many dividends over the span of my 14 year career.

This year, I have found a new twist to teaching the days of the week, dates and other ancillary but important building blocks to the language.

At my school, we do not use the Realidades series, but I happened to stumble upon the connected series Eres Tú María a few years ago; and I have shown it ever since. It can be found on Youtube and Vimeo. This series is wonderful in starting with basic Spanish and then getting more complex.

I usually show the first 10 episodes sprinkled throughout the school year as each one builds on the other in terms of vocabulary, structures, themes, and storyline. My students love when it is Maria time. At first, I was showing it as a treat more or less. After an arduous 90 minutes of class, this was a good brain break every couple of weeks. However, now that I have a better idea of how best to engage students in the first couple week of my Novice Level Spanish I class, I will use this resource to maximize and capitalize on input for listening and practicing:

  • Days of the week

  • Dates in Spanish 
  • Highlighting countries 
  • Greetings 
  • Simple vocabulary words such as libro, periódico and some verbs to get them started.  

Since Lola is a detective privada in the series, I created this investigative report/ detective activity in where students will:
  • View content with a specific purpose 
  • Write for a specific purpose and have an audience in mind 

In this role-play activity, students are tasked with watching Lola (who is investigating a possible crime). As such the activity calls for them to: 
  • Answer 7 basic questions related to the video. They actually get the information while watching the video the first or second time. The video is about 10 minutes. 
  • Investigative cloze-text report template with word bank
  • Section to fill out their own information (includes writing out numbers and email)
  • Directions for filling out the report. 

Are there any basic videos or series you'd recommend for teaching the first few weeks of Spanish 1?

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