The infamous G word: Grammar.
You either love it and obsess over it, or you hate it with a fiery passion.
But it doesn’t have to be the latter!
As a teacher, you have the power to convert your grammar-detesting students into grammar lovers by showing them that learning doesn’t have to be grueling.
You probably already know where I’m going with this—we’re going to employ our favorite resource, the one that gets all our students excited, energized and motivated!
Yeah, you know what I mean: we’re going to use games. Because who doesn’t love games?
And not just any games, but grammar games!
Grammar can be fun. It’s true. Would I lead you astray?
Actually, I may just be the perfect person to lead you through this topic. I love proper grammar and I’m constantly correcting the people around me.
Annoying, maybe. Passionate, definitely.
After your students participate in these activities, their grammar grudges will melt away.
6 Dynamic Spanish Grammar Games to Make Class a Blast
1. Sentence Matching
Some of the best activities for language practice are the ones that utilize multiple aspects of learning.
The sentence matching grammar game is one that’ll get your students practicing reading, writing and speaking.
The first step in this activity is to type and print out sentences in Spanish. These sentences should all use the grammar points you’re currently teaching. For example, if you’re teaching preferito versus imperfecto, you could use the sentences cuando era nino, él bailaba todos los días and el sábado pasado, yo fui al supermercado. Make sure the font is large enough to read.
Once you print out several sets of sentences, cut each sentence in half. When teaching verb tenses, have the subject on one half and the conjugated verb on the other.
In class, break the students into groups. Give one set of sentences to each group. Next, have the students match the scrambled sentence halves up. Once the students think they have a match, ask them to write it down on a blank sheet of paper.
To motivate your students further, you can turn the game into a little competition by having the groups race to see who can finish first. If you choose to make this a contest, you can write the group numbers on the board and then write their finishing places under their numbers.
2. Comparison Card Game
Students tend to love activities that involve their favorite characters from television, movies, games and cartoons.
The first step in playing comparison cards is to make many playing cards (ones that resemble Pokémon or Magic cards, if you’re familiar with those). These cards should have pictures of famous cartoon characters and statistics about the characters.
For example, you can make a playing card featuring Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” which shows her age, height, interests, etc.
Make as many cards as you have time for in class. I’ve found while playing this game that the more you make, the more enjoyable the activity becomes. In addition to the cards featuring characters and their statistics, print out a number of adjectives in large font and cut them into individual cards.
Split your students into groups of four students (or adjust the group size based on your class size). Ask your students to draw two cards from the stack of characters and one card from the stack of adjective cards. Next, have them write sentences comparing the different characters. For example, if a student picks Belle, Mario and the adjective alto, the student could then write “Belle es más alta que Mario.“
At the end of the activity, ask each group to choose their favorite sentence and share it with the rest of the class.
3. Twenty Questions
If you’ve never played the classic game “twenty questions,” you’re really missing out. Give the guessing game a little twist by putting a Spanish spin on it in class.
In pairs or groups, ask students to ask each other twenty yes-or-no questions until they can guess what the other students have in mind.
For example, they can ask questions like: “¿Es una fruta?” or “¿Es un animal?”
This is perfect for teaching and reinforcing Spanish gender rules.
Your students can build on each question as they attain more information about what their classmates are thinking. So if a student answers “sí” to “¿es un animal?” the questioning student can then ask “¿es un animal pequeño?”
Before starting the activity, give your students examples like the one above to understand how it works.
4. Grammar Jeopardy
Well, it may not be the same without Alex Trebec as the host, but trust me, Spanish Jeopardy never fails to provide a great time in class. One of the best aspects of Spanish Jeopardy is that you can use it as a tool for basically any lesson you’re currently teaching in Spanish.
Create a Jeopardy game board with categories related to different parts of Spanish grammar. Split your class into teams and have them choose categories and points. One category could be “¿masculino o feminino?”
If a student chooses this category, they’ll have to determine if a word is masculine or feminine. For higher points, the words should get more and more difficult, like the word “problema.”
Depending on how much time you have, you could have the winners proceed to another round.
You’re…writing a letter! You’re…cooking Italian food! You’re…trying to outrun an angry bear!
What are you doing?
You’re playing charades, of course!
Charades, the amusing and occasionally embarrassing acting game many of us played as kids, is yet another activity just itching to get a Spanish makeover.
To prepare for the activity, print out a list of actions, cut them up and place them in a bag. When a student volunteers to demonstrate an action, have him or her draw a sentence from the bag. Have the students take turns guessing what the student is acting out. This is ideal for practicing gerunds.
To keep things interesting for your students, make the game into a competition. For example, students who guess the action correctly can get two points and the ones who volunteer can get one. Giving students incentive to volunteer may convince the shyer ones to gain the courage to get in front of their peers.
6. Superlative Olympics
Who’s the fastest in your class? Who has the longest hair? Who’s the tallest? Who can jump the highest? Who can do the best dance solo on the spot?
Time to find out by playing Spanish Superlative Olympics!
Split your class into two or three large teams. Ask them to choose contenders for different categories to participate in class Olympics. For example, el estudiante con el pelo más largo or el estudiante que puede saltar lo más alto.
Once the groups have selected a contender for each category, it’s time for the games to begin!
Have the nominees for each category stand up in front of the class and demonstrate their skill. Have the best dancer nominees do a little solo and have the longest hair contenders hold up a ruler by their locks. Then have the class select a winner by applauding for their classmate of choice.
In the end, you can hand out some prizes to the winners of the game!
No matter which of these activities you decide to incorporate, just the fact that you’re trying to make Spanish lessons fun will definitely make your students happy.
And One More Thing…
If you already love the idea of teaching with entertaining activities, another fantastic option is FluentU.
As noted earlier in this post, 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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach Spanish with real-world videos.