Are you done with the same old teaching and grading?
Want to kick it up a notch?
Wish you had new techniques and activities that would keep your students excited all year round?
Adding varied and appealing Spanish learning activities to your lessons at any point in the year will set up your students for language success, and give them the chance to fall in love with Spanish culture.
Read on and prepare yourself for a journey filled with unique and entertaining ways to spice up your Spanish lessons!
The Key to Success: Benefits of Using New Spanish Learning Activities
At the end of every academic year at my school, I reflect on everything that went well and those things that didn’t turn out as I had expected. When it comes to learning activities, I’m all about sticking to things that work. They are well known to both teacher and students, they save planning time and learning time, and they’re guaranteed to be a success.
However, traditional learning methods lack originality and limit our students’ excitement. Pupils nowadays get bored easily, so keeping them tuned in is a constant challenge for teachers worldwide.
So, we’re ready to invest our time in planning and delivering new activities. What will we get in return?
- Student engagement: Every time we bring in a new activity, we lift our students’ expectations. They’re eager to discover what we have to offer, and if we can live up to those expectations, it means we have a winner!
- We can use current and authentic materials: Authentic materials are a fantastic way to introduce our students to the Spanish-speaking world. If you haven’t tried incorporating them into your lessons yet, don’t miss out on some of the ideas featured below.
- Students will be encouraged to think outside the box: New learning experiences encourage students to actively think about the different exercises. When we present students with new scenarios, we make them reflect on the learning and apply the language in ways they haven’t done before.
- Opportunities for cross-curricular learning: The best learning experiences come from cross-curricular learning, as it gives students the opportunity to apply their learning and think laterally. There are plenty of activities and projects out there to show our students the link between Spanish and many different subjects!
To reap all of these benefits, here are eight fresh Spanish learning activities that will get your students excited about Spanish again.
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8 Flavorful Spanish Learning Activities That’ll Spice Up Your Lessons
1. Create a Spanish Song/Rap
One of my favorite teaching tools is the video Conjugations Back, a fantastic resource created by teachers to explain verb conjugations in a different way. My students love it, and have now started to create their own versions of this song.
To be honest, music is a great teaching tool for students, no matter their ages or the topic you are covering. YouTube is full of great videos to match many different topics, but today I want to pick out one of my favorites: “Como es tu familia.”
In the past, I have used this song for traditional fill-in-the-blank and translation exercises, and I have spiced things up by asking my students to adapt the song and rap such that it’s about their family. “Como es tu familia” has a good range of vocabulary suitable for my 11-year-olds, and has lyrics in Spanish for the students to follow along with the song.
2. Create a Comic
Another fantastic way to introduce some creativity into your classroom and get students excited about Spanish is to create comics that use the language in writing. Comics allow students to practice a more conversational type of Spanish than they would use in their essays, and offer great scope for cross-curricular learning with art or technology.
There are some great tools out there to create fantastic comics online, like Pixton or Bitstrips. But if you don’t have access to computers or iPads, you can always get some colored pencils out and draw your own, or photocopy some of your favorite comic books, white out the text in the speech bubbles and have your students fill them in.
3. Spot the Tenses with FluentU
Sometimes grammar practice can be extremely boring. If you want to find a cool and exciting way to get your students working with their verbs, pair up with FluentU for the most engaging verb practice!
FluentU is an online immersion platform that offers loads of authentic Spanish videos and related activities for in-class or at-home practice. Just choose your favorite clip or let your students choose one themselves. FluentU has something for everyone—from beginner to native—and your students will love it!
Ask them to spot as many verbs as they can, or get them to identify the infinitive, the tense and the subject. A boring exercise that can be found in any traditional textbook can be transformed into a fun activity with this amazing tweak!
4. Transform a Story into a Play
Another way to make your lessons more exciting and practice Spanish in a different setting is to take a story and transform it into a play. Most students love acting, and the process of adapting the storyline requires them not only to understand and work with the language in a more complex way, but also to develop strong group working skills.
Some years ago I used “Los Cuatro Amigos” (The Four Friends) with my primary students. We read the story together and the students analyzed the different parts, working on understanding and dissecting the plot and characters. Then, they created their own script using the dialogue from the story, rehearsed it and performed it.
What I really like about “Los Cuatro Amigos” is that although the story itself is quite challenging, it also comes with a video that enables beginners to follow the plot and makes comprehension and adaptation easier.
5. Play Guess Who
Personal appearances and descriptions are a great way to get creative. I have always been a huge fan of “Wanted” posters with descriptions, but my new favorite is the game Guess Who. There are different ways in which to use Guess Who in your Spanish lessons, and all of them are great fun!
You can use some of the resources available and download a Guess Who game for your students. If you laminate it, students will be able to play on them and cross out characters with whiteboard markers and then erase them and start over again. Another option is to use a real Guess Who board, or to get your students to create their own.
But if you want to end your lesson on the best possible way, you need to play a game of Human Guess Who! Get your students to stand up and pick one of them to choose and think of someone in the classroom. The other students can ask him or her “yes” or “no” questions about the personal appearance of the mysterious pupil. Students sit back down as they get ruled out, until only one is standing—just like the board game rules. For example, if someone asks “Is it a girl?” and the answer is “No,” all girls take a seat.
6. Have a Spelling Bee
Every language teacher knows how important it is to learn vocabulary on a regularly basis. Vocabulary tests are key and are normally a huge battle that all teachers have to fight—but there are ways to make it more exciting.
Especially with the younger years, having Spelling Bee competitions is a great way to encourage students to do regular vocabulary learning. This can be planned as part of your classes or as an extra-curricular activity. I normally prefer to do it as an ongoing competition, which runs every Friday for a whole semester.
I have a list with the name of everyone in the class on a place where every student can see it, and each Friday every student gets a word to translate and spell. Those that get the translation and spelling correct get 10 points, and five points are awarded for the correct translation but the wrong spelling.
The key to this activity is to keep the list in a visible place and to make a great deal out of it. This will encourage students to keep up with the vocabulary learning for a chance to become the semester’s winner.
7. Create a Spanish Twitter Account
A couple of months ago I had a brainstorming session to incorporate new technology activities into my language lessons. One of the ideas that came up was to create a Twitter account for my Spanish class, and to encourage my students to interact with it by using their own Twitter accounts.
Sometimes I give them homework to complete through Twitter; I ask questions and post videos and links to interesting articles and other activities. After every lesson, I ask my students to answer a question to summarize our learning on Twitter, or to make a reflection on what we have done during the week.
The amazing thing is that I used to do this same thing in class using different resources during my lessons, and it didn’t work that well. But once I brought Twitter into the equation, everyone got excited!
8. Plan Film-based Activities
Film-based activities are a fantastic way to increase cultural awareness while learning new vocabulary in Spanish. There is a huge range of strategies and techniques you can use with films, and it’s not just about playing the video and wasting 50 minutes.
If you have the budget, check out “Tadeo Jones,” a fantastic cartoon movie that was a great success in Spain some years ago. “Tadeo Jones” is funny, entertaining and easy to follow, with a simple-yet-thrilling plot to get all your students excited.
Last year, I planned a movie project for the end of the year, and I prepared a pack for my students to use while watching the film, with activities that summarized the learning of the course.
If a whole film is too long, check out songs, videos and short films on FluentU. You’ll be able to enjoy a huge range of visual content and loads of ready-planned activities to spice up your lessons!
There’s no reason or excuses to stick to your boring activities next year! Choose your favorites, try them out and rock your Spanish lessons from start to finish!
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