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El futuro

Through this post I try to put together some thoughts and resources to teach future tense in Spanish. The main idea is students constructing the knowledge by themselves by discovery/deduction. If a student figures out the endings of a verb conjugation (looking at patterns for instance) is more likely to be easier to remember than just transmitting them the information.

I have found out that teaching past, present and future tenses together help students to comprehend them better and that there is no problem understanding the concepts, in the contrary, they have more information to contrast, compare and therefore internalize these concepts easier and with less effort.

I usually use a simple table with three columns: past, present and future, in order to organize the information. We don't just talk about verbs, we write down every word that help us identify or talk in one of the tenses. The majority of the times, we brainstorm this in class, so they are the students the ones that actually build up this chart. If they construct the knowledge is easier for them to remember and internalize.

Additional resources:

Compartir una idea, tiempo, un libro,
eso es lo que cambiará el mundo.

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Appetizers: Criptogramas

This activity is to be used as a class starter (appetizer) to turn on your class attention in a dynamic way that will help your students to switch from other subject to Spanish and will help them focus on the language. 

Why cryptograms?

In order to solve a cryptogram our students have to confront a process of rewriting a word searching for meaning and at the same time they have to find and check a global significance for the phrase, sentence or complete message. 

Through this process students use a previous representation of the word that they will use as a guide to order the letters. Just the correct order of the different letters will result in a comprehensible final message.

By doing this our students are working out many different interesting skills (not just for language). If you want to know more, read the justification in the presentation.

If you want to reach somewhere new
you have to take a different direction
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El Indefinido: Pasados en español

Past tenses in Spanish and English are sometimes different in perspective and conception.

English past simple can be expressed in Spanish using Indefinido, Imperfecto or Perfecto, this can confuse our students.

That's why this time translation doesn't seem the best way to learn this particular concept.

Some useful strategies to teach/learn verb tenses are:

- drawing the concept
- connecting concepts to particular communicative situations
- interpreting significance from examples and drawing conclusions from them
- etc

Should we use translation in our class or teach as much as we can in the target language?

A lot has been written about this topic and still there are some doubts on both sides of the argument.
Sometimes translation comes in handy to speed up the learning process and can help you connect with a student. 
I am not a big fan of translating in class because I think that the most important thing that happens in class is the process, what students do to learn, and sometimes translating is kind of taking a shortcut with everything that doing that implies. But at the same time, one of our priorities as teachers is knowing our students, offering them different ways of learning and respecting the diversity in our class. So, in the end, I understand that we need to use our professional judgment to make the best decision according to our personal context. 

The best education I have ever received was through travel.
Lisa Ling

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ab Initio unit: Transporte

This unit about transports is inherently linked to Vacations, Technology & Environment but it is easy to connect with Daily routines as well.

Transportation is a perfect interdisciplinary topic that can be easily come up in conversations, texts or any other activities. So, to spend time on this always pays off to your students and their scores. Try to revisit these concepts when you are teaching other units that allow you to talk about this. Remember that re-utilizing something is a great way of helping your brain to recall information.

Presentation / Content

Oral activity

Teachers should guide without dictating
and participate without dominating

C. B. Neblette
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Mr Luna is absent

Las personas que eligen=escogen=seleccionan sus decisiones son más independientes y autónomas.

Choose any two of the following activities to complete. They must be turned in by the end of class. Keep in mind that this choice board is used for all levels of Spanish – you have the same guidelines, but my expectations for the product you produce are much different.  If you’re in IB, don’t turn in something that a student in Spanish 1 could produce.  And if you’re in Spanish 1, don’t turn in something you could have done during the first week of school.

Crossword puzzle

Create a crossword puzzle with 15 vocabulary words from the current unit. Clues must be in complete sentences in Spanish. Include both the finished puzzle and an answer key.

Write and illustrate a 6-10 panel comic strip using at least seven current vocabulary words and three examples of the current topic. Highlight the vocabulary and grammar examples.
Flexible task

Grab your computer and visit this link. Choose one task from here and attach it to an email to your teacher.

Choose a familiar tune and make a song based on your current grammar or vocabulary topic. Be prepared to either sing your song OR have someone else sing it to the class.

Create a set of picture flashcards for at least 20 vocabulary words from your current unit. Write the vocabulary word on one side and draw an illustration of it in the other side. You may use notebook paper or make them on your computer.

Come up with 15-20 questions based on the current vocabulary, grammar and/or cultural unit. Use the questions for your game board, include an answer key.

Play Scrabble with 2-4 of your classmates using the set we have in class. Make sure you use words from the current vocabulary unit. If you don't know the rules for this game, flip the board over.
Write down a paragraph telling your teacher what have you learnt.

Create a survey based on your current unit. Interview at least half of the class and take notes on their responses. Then create a graph to summarize your classmates' answers to each question.

Write an entry in your journal reflecting upon your current unit, an activity, a particular assignment, etc. what could you do better, what could be improved and make a personal connection. Use He + participio to express your ideas.

Sign up clicking here and create a Kahoot based on your current unit/topic. Share it with your teacher and enjoy while the class is playing and you know all the answers ;)
Pen pal

Write an email to a Spanish pen pal. Use more than 10 words from the current unit and 3 examples of the current grammar topic. Highlight vocabulary and grammar examples.

Write ten questions using vocabulary words from the current unit. Interview two classmates and write down their answers. Please, write in complete sentences.

Write a letter. Imagine you are writing to an Internet Manager from a company of your choice. You get tons of Spam and you want to complaint because of this.
  • Greet him/her and explain your problem
  • Express what do you would like to happen and why

With a partner create a dialogue based on your current unit. Write at least ten lines per person.
Remember to be accurate with punctuation. For instance, in Spanish we use two question marks: ¿ ... ?
Word search
Create a word search with 10-20 vocabulary words from the current unit. Clues must be in complete sentences in Spanish or visuals. Include both the finished word search and an answer key


This choice board is just my own, but you can find multiple types and different content-based on the Internet.

If you like this idea, you may check this post about Flexible tasks / homework as well.

Share your knowledge. It is a way go achieve immortality

Dalai Lama

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Bellwork is just an activity that students complete as they walk into the class before the bell rings for the lesson. 

That's the definition, but we don't need to be that strict when doing bellwork in our classes. Actually, there are activities in this bellwork presentation that will last 10 minutes, that will have a different impact in your instruction time depending on how long your classes are or any other factors. 

Anyways, the idea behind our bellwork activities is that our students are engaged as soon as they walked into your classroom and (hopefully;) focused on the subject. 

Different light: use these activities as an exit ticket from your class, or as flexible homework, or as enrichment, sub-plans, or ... 

It is impossible for a man to learn
what he thinks he already knows

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El Condicional

The Conditional tense must be introduced to students in early stages, the CEFR places it in the A1,A2 level, that is an emergent communicator phase or beginners level. The expression possibilities that we are opening up for our students are very interesting. 

The theory is not really difficult is just adding endings to the infinitive and if you work with patterns or chunks it can be combined at early stages with some really difficult tenses such as subjunctive, as we do for instance in the Twitter activity in the presentation.

Education is no substitute for intelligence
Frank Herbert
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ab Initio Unit: Problemas ambientales

This unit focuses on Environmental problems. As it can seem a bit technical at the beginning it turns not that complicated if you connect it to their other subjects: Environmental Science, Biology, Geography, etc

Usually, most of the content of this unit is well known by our students, we just have to activate it in the target language and for that, it is fundamental we use their prior knowledge.


Presentation + Activities

Oral activity

Believe in yourself,
everyone else is already taken
Oscar Wilde
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ab Initio Unit: Relaciones

En el tema Relaciones se pueden tratar diversos aspectos, pero si hay que priorizar los más importantes serían la familia, y los amigos. Después hay temas que son muy interesantes como pueden ser los estereotipos o los festejos familiares. 

En el currículo específico se detallan:
  • amigos
  • familia y festejos familiares
  • animales y mascotas
  • asociaciones
  • comunidad
  • estereotipos





You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak

― George Clooney
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ab Initio Unit: Atributos personales

Usually this is our first unit when starting our ab Initio courses, along with greetings and introduction dialogues. 

The guide from IB recommends the following break down for this particular unit:

  • Casa: habitaciones, mobiliario
  • Dirección
  • Edad
  • Fecha de nacimiento
  • Idiomas
  • Nacionalidad

It is crucial that we introduce our students in a comprehensive manner to such important verbs in Spanish as Ser / Estar / Tener.

It is the perfect time to start talking about the difference between Ser and Estar. If you want to know more about this, please click here.

Something I always connect with this unit is body parts, if you want to know more about this, please click here.

In this presentation below you will find tons of visual resources to learn/teach personal information, basic numbers, physical descriptions and character along with activities.

Actividades en línea

Actividad oral
Selecciona=escoge=elige una imagen y descríbela, usa el grabador abajo para grabar tu respuesta y enviársela a tu profe.
Presta atención a sus comentarios y soluciona tus problemas.

Read a short story every day.
By the end of the week you would have read volumes of stories.

― Lailah Gifty Akita




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