5 Fun High School Spanish Activities to Increase Student Participation
Are you looking for some fun Spanish classroom activities to help keep your students engaged?
When learning a language, it’s important that students stay motivated while also having fun. The key to achieving this is to make sure that you have a creative Spanish language activity that reinforces learning goals.
In this post, we’ll share 5 fun and engaging Spanish activities for high school that you can start using in your Spanish classes.
- 1. Describe People to Police as a Crime Scene Witness
- 2. Create Spanish Stories with Storybird
- 3. Move Around the Room While Playing “Find Someone Who…”
- 4. Use Authentic Spanish Menus in a Fun “Take My Order” Game
- 5. Lead a Successful Field Trip to a Local Spanish-speaking Restaurant
- What Makes a Good High School Spanish Activity?
- Considerations for Planning High School Spanish Activities
1. Describe People to Police as a Crime Scene Witness
This activity is great for getting students to talk to one another and practicing their descriptions of people. You’ll need at least one picture of a person for every student, and a few spares if you want things to be more challenging.
Explain to your students that they are going to help solve a crime. Split the students into pairs. In each pair, one student will be a policeman and one student will be a witness. Call the witnesses to the front of the classroom and have the police officers turn their backs.
Give each witness a picture of a person to look at. Tell them that the person they are looking at is a criminal. Once they’ve had some time to memorize the picture, they can go back to their seats. Then you can put all of the pictures up on the board, as well as a couple of red herrings (those extra pictures) if you want to make it more difficult!
Now the police officers must ask their witnesses questions in order to discover who their criminal is. If your class can handle the extra element, it’s fun to give the police officers a notepad and have them make a sketch based on the witnesses’ descriptions.
Once the police officer has a complete description of the criminal, they can come to the front and try to point out the correct suspect. Don’t forget to compare the sketches to the real pictures to see who the best artist is!
2. Create Spanish Stories with Storybird
Creating a story in your target language is an excellent way to see if your class is able to write in Spanish just as well as they can speak, listen and read.
Storybird is a free website that allows students to create their own beautiful stories, practice their writing skills and get creative! You’ll need to create a sample story before the lesson to demonstrate what your students are going to do.
Once you’ve read the sample story as a class, show the students how to make a page of their own. They’ll have to choose an existing illustration, then come up with the accompanying text by themselves.
It might also be a good idea to review the tenses you will need, as well as pre-teaching some vocabulary that your students might want to use.
3. Move Around the Room While Playing “Find Someone Who…”
Encontrar a alguien que (find someone who…) activities are great for speaking practice, but they are also brilliant for class bonding and getting restless students out of their seats for a minute.
Create a list of sentences that are appropriate for your class and put the heading “Find someone who” at the top of the page. Give each student a copy.
Example sentences might be:
Encontrar a alguien que haya visto la televisión anoche.
Encontrar a alguien que haya ido a bailar el fin de semana.
Encontrar a alguien a quien no le guste la pizza.
Encontrar a alguien que nunca se haya subido a una montaña rusa.
Encontrar a alguien que se vista de amarillo.
Students must stand up, walk around and ask each other questions. When they have found someone who meets the criteria for a question, they can put the name of that person down next to the relevant sentence.
When they have a name for each question on the list, they can shout, “Finished!” and let you verify their list. If you’re satisfied, they are declared the winner. You could also set this up in a grid as an interactive variation of the classic BINGO.
Remember to tweak the tenses, subject matter and vocabulary according to your class needs.
4. Use Authentic Spanish Menus in a Fun “Take My Order” Game
This activity brings authentic Spanish menus into the classroom to help students improve their vocabulary, comprehension and speaking.
Hand out copies of an authentic Spanish menu to all of your students. Review the food words that they already know, and then help them with the more difficult dishes. As you go through and explain the menu as a class, put up a picture on the board of each meal that you want to practice. This is also a good moment to pre-teach some useful restaurant phrases.
Tell the class that you are going to do a role play. Divide the class into groups of three to five students. In each group, one person will play the role of the server, while the others will be customers.
The customers are allowed to read the menu and place their orders, but the server must try to remember all of the orders without checking the menu. Once servers have taken the orders, they can come and try and take the correct food pictures from the front of the class. The servers score points for each correct order, and then the students swap roles.
To make it even more challenging, and to get in some additional numbers practice, you can have the server give the bill and have the customers pay in play money.
This activity works really well with an authentic local restaurant menu, but if you can’t find one, there are hundreds of Spanish menus online. Use Pexels or another image-sharing site to source the food pictures for the game.
5. Lead a Successful Field Trip to a Local Spanish-speaking Restaurant
Field trips are an excellent way to give your students real-world speaking practice, and they don’t have to break the bank. Something as simple as a trip to a local Mexican restaurant can really motivate learners to improve.
Here are some pointers to make it a success:
- Introduce the trip as part of a lesson. Remember the last activity I mentioned with the menus? It’ll be even more successful if students know that they will soon be visiting that restaurant on an upcoming field trip.
- Have the students use their Spanish during the outing. Learners must read the menu and give their orders in Spanish. Not only that, but you should have some conversation topics prepared to discuss with the meal.
- Continue the learning once the trip is over. As a teacher, you should maximize the potential learning outcomes of the field trip by reflecting on it afterward. An excellent way to do this is to do a creative writing assignment, like writing a restaurant review for Google or Tripadvisor.
There are potential risks involved in taking students out of the school grounds that should be properly assessed and planned for according to your school rules. Remember to discuss behavior expectations beforehand, and be sure to obtain parental permission as well as fill out the appropriate medical permissions forms. Also, consider taking additional chaperones to help you keep tabs on all the learners and make sure that no one gets left behind.
What Makes a Good High School Spanish Activity?
When implemented correctly, Spanish activities can be both enjoyable and stimulating for your high school class. Here’s what makes a great activity for high school Spanish:
- Students should be engaged and active. A learner that is getting hands-on experience is far more likely to remember new content than one who is passively listening. Activities should also be student-centered rather than teacher-centered.
- The activity is meaningful and relevant. Students should be able to understand how the particular activity relates both to their current Spanish course and also to potential real-life uses.
- Students should feel good once the activity is complete. They should also be able to understand how the activity has helped their Spanish to improve.
Considerations for Planning High School Spanish Activities
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if an activity is right for your classroom:
Be mindful both of your school’s resources and your students’ resources. In particular, check whether your students have internet access at home before assigning homework that requires them to be online.
All new teachers are guilty of sometimes planning lessons so elaborate that the students can’t understand what they are supposed to be doing! Keep activities as simple as possible until you are confident both in your students and in your ability to explain new tasks.
The unfortunate reality of teaching high school students is that sometimes behavior will be an issue. As a teacher, it’s your responsibility to know what kind of activities might “set your class off.” If you can’t trust your students to leave their seats without getting into trouble, then don’t make them leave their seats as part of an activity.
Students at the high school age respond better to learning that’s relevant to them. Find out what’s popular among your students—what students are listening to, watching, reading, etc.—and look for ways to bring the things they care about into the classroom.
This is a great time to incorporate technology into the lesson. For example, you could play clips from the FluentU program that your students will find engaging like movie trailers, music videos and vlogs. Each video features interactive subtitles, so your students will be able to compare the languages and hover over any new vocabulary for extra information.
If your students have the right resources (see above), then you could assign homework on FluentU. Alternatively, you can keep the learning in the classroom and create communal flashcard decks so students can practice together.
The key to teaching Spanish at high school is to make sure that the activities you use are both relatable and engaging for your students.
Activities are a fantastic way to make your high school classes run more smoothly and effectively as they will keep your students motivated and engaged.
Try one of these lively activities with your high school Spanish class today!