Love is in the air.
Whether you’re on a date with that special someone or simply strolling down the greeting card aisle decked out in pink, red and white at a store, you’re bound to feel it.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is here again, providing yet another means to incorporate cheerful holiday vibes into your Spanish lessons.
Below are just a few ideas about how to dedicate a lesson to the holiday of love. Choose one for Valentine’s Day itself, or use one per day for the whole week leading up to it.
4 Fun Spanish Classroom Activities for Valentine’s Day
1. Lyric Gap-Fill Exercise
Ah, Spanish: the language of love. Oh wait, I guess people generally consider that to be French. Or is Italian the language of love? Regardless, Spanish is still a Romance language, and there is no shortage of love songs in Spanish.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share some of these songs with your students.
One way to center a lesson on Valentine’s Day is to play a Spanish-language love song or two for your students. Before playing the songs, hand out the lyrics as a gap-fill worksheet, with key vocabulary removed. Then have your students fill in the blanks as they listen.
Leaving out words, as opposed to providing your students with the complete lyrics, will ensure they remain engaged while listening instead of just tuning out (pardon the music pun).
If you don’t have time to put together gap filling exercises for love songs, then you might want to check out FluentU. FluentU is the best way to bring immersion to your Spanish classroom. FluentU takes fun videos like music videos, movie trailers, and TV shows and turns them into language learning experiences. FluentU will have your students singing songs backwards and forwards.
You may be wondering which words to withhold (there’s some nice intentional alliteration for you). Personally, I suggest leaving out words from the lyrics that are specific vocabulary to Valentine’s Day. For example, in the song “Héroe” by Enrique Iglesias, omit the word “acariciarte” or the phrase “puede ser mi salvación.”
2. Write a Spanish Love Poem
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Nothing says “I love you” like a romantic poem, and there’s no better time to write romantic poems than on Valentine’s Day.
During your Valentine’s Day lesson, have your students practice writing romantic poems for their crush or significant other, or just for a friend. If they don’t know who to write to, suggest that they write a poem for their celebrity crush.
Before starting the exercise, hand out examples of poems written by famous Spanish-speaking authors. Give your students some time to read them on their own and write down the words they do not understand. Afterwards, go over the meaning together as a class and teach your students the vocabulary words they didn’t know before.
Challenge your students by asking them to make rhyming poems. Trying to find pairs of Spanish words that rhyme will require a bit more effort on the part of your students.
Another way to incorporate poetry into a Valentine’s Day lesson is to have your students form pairs or groups and translate an English love poem into Spanish.
3. Watch “A Charlie Brown Valentine” in Spanish
School kids of every age love watching movies and television in class. It provides a way for them to learn without exerting too much effort, which can show them that language learning doesn’t always have to be dry and demanding.
Depending on the age and language ability of your students, you can choose whether or not to use subtitles. The benefit of using movies with simple plots like Charlie Brown films it that even low-level students can follow along, without understanding every single word the characters say.
If you opt to forgo subtitles, ask your students to write down words they hear that they don’t understand. After watching the movie, ask your students to look up the words that they wrote down either alone, in groups, or together as a class.
For homework, have your students write a short summary of the movie in Spanish. For more advanced levels, have them write a review of the movie, including their opinions and what they did and didn’t like.
If Charlie Brown doesn’t float your boat and you prefer another movie or television episode, don’t fret. Most DVDs or Blu-Ray Discs available today have the option for Spanish audio.
4. Make Spanish Valentines
Hand-made Valentines are a fun craft that your students have likely been making since their earliest school days. During your Valentine’s Day lesson, have your students continue this tradition with a Spanish twist.
I can imagine the dubious thoughts of some of my readers now… why would my students want to spend an entire class chopping up paper and making boring old valentines? Stop that thought right there—valentine-making can be super exciting!
This activity can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it. If you teach relatively young students, focus the activity on teaching shapes. Prior to making their valentines, ask the students to write a list of shapes in English and then look up the corresponding Spanish word. Next, ask them to make valentines for their friends, family and classmates using the different shapes.
For older students or those of higher Spanish ability, focus the valentine crafting lesson of writing messages inside. This activity will prove to be extremely useful in your students’ lives especially if they spend time abroad and need to write cards for their Spanish-speaking friends and family.
Teach your students to write phrases like “Espero que lo pases bien durante el Día de San Valentín.” Also inform them that this phrase can be altered for almost any occasion or holiday, for example, “Espero que lo pases bien durante la Navidad.”
This lesson can also provide a great way to teach the verb “gustar,” which can always be a bit tricky since it doesn’t translate literally to English. Ask your students to make valentines for their friends and families, and write down what they like about each other on the inside. For example, “Me gustas porque siempre eres simpatico/a” or “A mi me gustan tus zapatos.”
Overall, this activity provides a great way to teach Spanish vocabulary to your students. I mean, when else are they going to learn to say “sweetheart” or “be mine” in Spanish?
Do those phrases sound familiar? They aren’t only found on Valentines; you’ve probably also seen them if you have ever eaten the famous little heart-shaped candies. Some schools today are getting stricter about whether or not you can bring in candy for your students due to food allergies. However, if you can bring in candy, try to find candy hearts in Spanish to give to your students. Most grocery stores these days carry them in both languages.
Yes, you can stick to teaching your students the obvious terms like “mi amor” to write on the inside of their valentines. Or, you can really help your students sound like native speakers and amp up their vocabulary by teaching them colloquial phrases specific to different Spanish-speaking countries.
While they are making their valentines, play some fun Spanish music in the background to make the ambiance feel livelier and lovelier.
The above are just four of the endless ideas you can try for incorporating Valentine’s Day into your Spanish classroom.
Other quick ideas include asking your students to plan a Valentine’s Day party or sharing their favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with the class.
So what are you waiting for? Put a little love in the Spanish class, for the love of Valentine’s Day!
And One More Thing…
If you already love the idea of teaching with snippets of authentic Spanish content, another option is to use FluentU.
How can video clips aid Spanish teachers in class? FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, cartoons, documentaries and more—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons for you and your students.
We’ve got a tremendous collection of authentic Spanish videos that people in the Spanish-speaking world actually watch on the regular. There are tons of great choices here when you’re looking for material for in-class activities or homework. Plus, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students.
Each video has interactive subtitles. If a student comes across a word they’re unfamiliar with, they can hover their cursor over the subtitled word. That word’s definition, pronunciation and in-context usage examples will all pop up on-screen instantly. This is what your students will get after they click “watch” on a video. Clicking “learn” opens up a whole new learning experience for them.
In learn mode, all the vocabulary and grammar from the video is taught and reinforced through varied repetition (practicing the same concepts in different forms and contexts). They’ll play with flashcards, games, word matches and exercises like “fill in the blank.”
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that they’re learning, and it recommends examples and videos based on what they’ve already learned. Every student has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Use FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU App for iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store. The Android App is coming soon!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach Spanish with real-world videos.