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Appetizers: Sudoku de verbos

Revisiting the idea of Appetizers, quick, interesting activities to start off your class, this week we are looking at incorporating this traditional Japanese game. The adaptation is simple, switching numbers for verb conjugations.

If you want to know my students experience. Just by asking around I thought that some of them love this and others hate it. Hence, so far I was not clear on whether this activity is one of the best to start classes with or not, but just exposing students to it and paying attention to their feedback is enough to get to know if it is going to be productive with that class or not. Remember that flexibility is important as well as listening to your students to build up a positive and productive class environment.
Forms response chart. Question title: 1.- Do you enjoy playing Sudoku in your Spanish class?. Number of responses: 42 responses.Please, let me hear how does it go in your class ;)

Then, I thought I would just pass a google form to collect some feedback and the results surprised me, 83,3% enjoyed practicing and it turns out it's their favorite activity to start the class

Creativity is putting your imagination to work,
and it's produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.

Ken Robinson
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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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