5 Amazingly Fun and Easy Ways to Use Technology in the Spanish Classroom
Do you have technology available at your school, but you’re not sure how to use it?
Have you ever wished you could just go back to the days of simple blackboards and overhead projectors?
Or perhaps you’re curious to dive into the modern world, but aren’t sure where to start and don’t have the time to figure it out on your own.
Well you’re in the right place! We’re going to show you just how useful and simple teaching with technology can be, through five fun Spanish classroom activities.
Because as a teacher, if you have technologies available to you, embrace them as much as possible! Why? Let’s take a look at some reasons.
Why Embrace Modern Technology in the Spanish Classroom?
No matter your personal opinion of technology, students will still use it in their daily lives. Using teaching methods that students can directly apply to their personal technology habits will show students that Spanish can be practical and fun.
By embracing technology and using it in your classroom, you’ll also be providing your students more opportunities for active learning—which we know is much more effective than the traditional passive method.
Coming up with creative and engaging lessons involving Spanish may seem challenging at times, especially if you don’t feel on the up-and-up with the newest gadgets and popular websites of the moment. However, doing so demonstrates to your students that you are interested in teaching them real-world uses for their Spanish, and that you care about keeping them engaged. (Plus, with blog posts like these, you won’t need to come up with lessons on your own!)
There are myriad ways to use such technology to educate, but we’ll start with just five ways you can incorporate it into your Spanish classroom.
5 Amazingly Fun and Easy Ways to Use Technology in the Spanish Classroom
1. Have a Video Call with a Native Spanish Speaker
Do you have friends, family or acquaintances abroad? Now’s the time to take advantage of those connections for the benefit of your students!
If you know someone in a Spanish-speaking country, get in touch and ask them in your sweetest voice if they would be willing to speak to your students during one of your lessons. If they agree, thank them profusely and arrange a date and time to hold the conversation. Be sure to ask him or her what kinds of questions are okay for your students to ask, and how long he or she is willing to speak with the group.
Next, to prepare, ask your students to write down a list of questions to ask your friend or family member during the upcoming video chat sessions. These can be questions about his or her home country, questions about Spanish in general, or any other curiosities your students may have.
If you can’t think of anyone right away with whom your students can talk, don’t panic, just get resourceful! How about colleagues, or other Spanish teachers in neighboring towns—do they have connections? Or what about your students—do they know anyone in a Spanish-speaking country willing to speak to the class? You could also search online, just like Spanish learners looking for a conversation partner would do.
To make the video call, use a free site or program like Google Hangouts or Skype. Make sure everything’s installed and working correctly well before you make the call.
After the session, be sure your students thank the speaker profusely. You can even add a short homework assignment to this activity in which your students write thank you notes in Spanish that you can send to the guest.
2. Use Tablets and Cell Phones to Teach Spanish
These days, it seems like cell phone owners are getting younger and younger. Don’t brood about those whippersnappers and their technologies while dreaming about a simpler time! Rather, embrace the changes in today’s world by integrating them into your Spanish lessons. Tablets are becoming increasingly popular as well, so chances are at least some of your students or their families have one.
If your school happens one of those that has tablets for the students, have them change the operating language to Spanish for one lesson. During that time, go through some new vocabulary with your students, as it’s encountered naturally by using the tablet. Afterwards, students should compile a list of the new words they learned from the exercise.
If your students don’t have tablets at school, you could easily turn this into a unique homework assignment instead. Have students turn their tablet or cell phone language to Spanish for a certain amount of time, whether it be one hour, one day or one week. Make sure it’s an activity all students can participate in before introducing it to the class, or have alternatives in place for students without these devices. We certainly don’t want to single anyone out; you know your students best, and can plan and prepare accordingly.
For students that do own smartphones or tablets, if you haven’t already, provide suggestions for learning apps that they can download and use in their own time.
3. Teach Spanish with Search Engines
Google, Bing, Yahoo—and any other search engine for that matter—are great resources in today’s modern age. And, very likely, they are resources that your students use on a daily basis for research and personal entertainment.
One lesson sure to please any Spanish students is one revolving around internet searches via a Spanish-language search engine, like Google.es. For this lesson, you can either plan a class trip to the school computer lab (if your school has such a facility) or project a computer screen in your classroom. The latter is preferable, as it gives the students a tactile learning experience.
During your computer lab session, ask students to search for things with the Spanish engine and write the words they learn in the process. For example, the Google button “I’m feeling lucky” on the homepage of the search engine translates to “voy a tener suerte.” This is a fun and interactive way for students to see another way that they can apply Spanish to their daily lives.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you’re looking for a fun way for your students to interact with Spanish in real-world contexts outside of class, introduce them to FluentU!
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
4. Teach Spanish with Social Media
Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Tumblr. Twitter. Those make up just the peak of the massive iceberg of social media applications in today’s world. Chances are, your students have an account with at least one of the aforementioned applications.
For homework, ask your students to change one or all of their social media accounts into Spanish for a specific amount of time. Interacting with the language in this fashion will be so great for their Spanish skills, but afterwards students could also write a list of words they’ve learned from this activity.
Another idea for a social media-related activity is to simply look at these sites in Spanish with your students during class. If you have access to a computer that you can connect to a television and show to the entire class, dedicate a block of time to browsing various social media websites in Spanish. You don’t need to use your own Facebook or other accounts. Simply look over the home pages in Spanish.
You can also go through the steps to make a social media profile in Spanish without actually finishing the process. That way, you won’t have to provide a real phone number and e-mail account, but students can still see the vocabulary related to making the account.
5. Explore Online Dating in Spanish
Online dating sites, as their advertisements constantly remind us, are becoming more and more common ways for people to find love.
It turns out, they aren’t just useful for this purpose, but also for teaching Spanish! Though I’m guessing that the creators of the sites didn’t intend for this to be the case.
For a lesson involving online dating sites, begin the class by browsing through the pages of Spanish-language dating sites. Next, create a mock profile with your students. Making it as ridiculous as possible almost guarantees your students will enjoy the activity and actively contribute their ideas. For example, you can create a profile for an imaginary man who does nothing but play video games all day and lives in his grandmother’s basement.
I recommend making this activity with the class as a whole rather than in groups. Like with the previous activities, if you have the right equipment, project the screen so the entire class and create the profile together.
As is the case with the social media profiles, you don’t need to actually create the account for it to be a positive learning experience. That way, you don’t need to provide a valid e-mail address or phone number.
From this activity, students should gain dating vocabulary and colloquial terms to talk about their likes and dislikes. While textbooks may provide basic terms for students to describe themselves, they often lack the in-depth terms which many dating sites tend to use. For example, they can learn the terms to describe their relationship status.
Give these ideas a whirl, and see just how much fun you can have with your students by integrating technology into your Spanish classroom!