31 October 2008

Overgeneralizing, again

A few posts back I commented on how my Spanish 3 students are overgeneralizing and I'm getting "Yo es" all over the place. Since I made lots of comments about it I've seen less. But I noticed something today--my Spanish 1 cherubs are doing it. I haven't taught Spanish 1 in three years and never communicatively, so I don't know if this is normal, but it seems awfully fast for such a process to happen and actually makes me happy! :)

On another note, they're slowly distinguishing between es and está. I'm eager for next semester when I let them loose on their own on the blog posts, so I can see what they can write. So far I'm really liking how communicative this class is. They blow me away.

Incidentally, this is the quiz they took today, for working on es/está.

1. Es Raúl un chico o una chica?
2. ¿Es Nicolía rubia o morena?
3. ¿Está Paco en la escuela o en casa?
4. ¿Está Jorge feliz o triste?
5. ¿Es Laura alta o baja?
6. ¿Quién es el estudiante más guapo en esta clase?

30 October 2008

Spanish 2 Story: La llama se llama...

You may have seen the story I wrote for Spanish 1 to read and then re-create in this post. Here is the story for Spanish 2. It involves a llama named Sra. Fluffy Stuff and a blue dog named Blue. One question many students answered wrong was "Why did Sra. Fluffy Stuff leave?" A lot of them answered "Because the program ended." Here is the version with the blanks for them to fill.

Song success: Me voy

Another song that has been highly successful in my class is Me voy by Julieta Venegas. I'm excited to see what she'll do on the Latin Grammys next month. My students LOVE this song. I use it primarily for the phrase me voy, with some random vocab thrown in. The video is funny and interesting, although it's the most random thing in the world. Well, I take that back. It's not as random as her video for Limón y sal with the whole talkie-movie/Lion Witch & Wardrobe thing going on. LOL.

Not posting lately

If my posting is a little erratic these days, there are a couple of good reasons. First, nine-weeks grades were due, and the whole jury duty thing had put me so far behind on grading that it consumed my nights and days to get the grades in on time. Second, I'm pregnant. And sick. Not sick-sick, just pregnant-sick. I'll be 12 weeks next week, so I'm waiting for that morning when I wake up and all the yuck is magically disappeared. Until then, I'll try my best to muddle through.

20 October 2008


My Spanish 3 students are overgeneralizing. It's fine, it's a normal part of language acquisition, but it's driving me nuts. In case you aren't familiar with the phenomenon, overgeneralizing is what happens when a child acquires the irregular past "went," then discovers that we form past by adding -ed to verbs, and overgeneralizes to the irregulars and suddenly starts saying things like "she goed" and "he singed."

My Spanish 3 cherubs are doing it with the most elementary things--I'm getting tons of yo es and yo gusto. At least they don't think me means "I," which is what frequently happens after students learn me gusta. So today we're taking this quiz, not really to test the difference betwee soy and estoy, but rather to make them write yo soy and yo estoy repeatedly, as well as me gusta and me gustan.

This is the quiz:
Yo soy / yo estoy…
1. estudiante
2. alto
3. en casa
4. listo (inteligente)
5. chico/chica
6. estadounidense
7. listo (preparado/a)
8. enfermo/a

(No) me gusta / me gustan…
9. los payasos
10. la escuela
11. la Internet
12. burritos de frijoles
13. uvaslos libros en español

Here's hoping it works!

The outcome of Pin Pon

So, my Spanish 3 loved the Shrek video clip. I also played the Pin Pon animation on YouTube (both clips are linked in the previous post). I never know what's going to grab their attention. They actually brought their friends, whom I had in Spanish 2 last year, to my room after school to view the Pin Pon clip. And now they beg for it every class period.

Whatever works!

07 October 2008

Pin Pon in Shrek?

I don't normally show American movies with Spanish dubbed in, because they're culturally irrelevant and many times beyond my students, both linguistically and in attitude--they assume it's the same as the English and tune out the language. But I found this clip of Shrek 2 on YouTube, the torture scene where the prince is dipping the gingerbread man in milk to try to get him to talk. In the English film, the conversation goes like this:
Prince: "Do you know the muffin man?"
Gingerbread man: "The muffin man?"
Prince: "The muffin man. Do you know the muffin man?"
Gingerbread man: "The one who lives on Drury Lane?"

It's one of the funniest parts of the movie. But think about it--how funny would this be to Spanish-speakers who have no idea what the muffin man is? So, when I watched the scene in Spanish, I found out that they actually dubbed in a conversation involving Pin Pon, a Puerto Rican children's song. Awesome! I can't wait to show it in Spanish 3. Funny, linguistically accessible and relevant, and culturally relevant too!

Best practices

At the KWLA conference, so many people mentioned cool things you can do with a computer... if you have a projector in your room, which I don't. I'd asked for one before, but the tech guy told me that no one was checking out the one in the library, so he didn't see a need to buy another. I told him it would be such a hassle to get it every morning and bring it back every afternoon, that it wasn't worth it.

After the conference, I decided it was worth it after all, and I was going to check it out every day unless someone else needed it. So I have, the past two days, and my students have LOVED it. This morning one of the students in my difficult period said, "I learned more than I ever have in any other Spanish lesson." YAY!

So I've arranged with my boss to have a "permanent checkout" of the projector in my room--after all, if no other teacher is using it, what's the sense in me getting a new one and the other one sitting in the library? He said if other teachers start requesting it, the library will have to requisition a new one.

:-) Good times, good times.

03 October 2008

Reading in Spanish 3

I firmly believe that the best way to acquire new vocabulary is to hear it or read it, in context, in multiple contexts, many times. So, personally, I read in Spanish whenever I have the time. I rarely read fiction in English. This year I've been really in to Isabel Allende's Zorro and Inés del Alma Mía and García Marquez--specifically, Noticia de un secuestro, and now I'm reading Amor en los tiempos de cólera.

Along that line of thinking, my Spanish 3 students also read. I dislike asking them to read/view things that are decidedly American (especially WASP American) that were translated into Spanish. If we're really dedicated to all the 5 C's, we need to include stuff that's culturally rich and relevant. So, in the fall of Spanish 3 we read Cajas de cartón, Francisco Jimenez's story of how he came to the U.S. as an illegal child immigrant with his family in the 1950's. The students take a quiz over each chapter as the semester progresses, and then once a quarter I add up the grades for a test grade. In case anyone might find them useful and/or have constructive comments, I'll probably upload my quizzes for the book soon. So far I've only written them for chapters 1-5.

In case you're interested, the book we'll read in the Spring is Esperanza renace by Pam Muñoz Ryan, also an immigrant child story but from a different time and perspective (think "The Little Princess" for a Mexican aristocrat's daughter). The book I'm looking at for AP next year is Ciudad de las bestias by Allende. (I'm not sure my students will be ready for Zorro or I'd pick that one.)

02 October 2008


I've had jury duty for two weeks. Because of that and our wind storm (thank you Ike), I've taught three days in the last three weeks. And during the two weeks I was gone, I came back every day or every other day, in the afternoons, to find a note from the sub about all the difficulty with my 7th period, and some with my 6th period, my very social/talkative Spanish 3 students. Upsetting. But at least I know it's not just me. Anyway, I'm at school today checking blogs and updating grades and anticipating coming back to school on Monday (the kids are off today and tomorrow). And I got such an encouraging little jewel.

Remember my Spanish 2 student from this post, p.w., the one who said Spanish was boring because she didn't understand? This is what she wrote last Thursday:
Hola amigos! Todo semana en espanol nosotros vemos un sustito. Fue muy mal porque cuando Mrs. Cottrell fue aqui yo fui empezando a aprender espanol luego ella desapareco y no volvo! Adios!

Yay for reasons to smile and keep coming back. :)

My media list

I'm working on a media list to share with teachers, specifically for the ACSI regional conference in Dayton next month. You're welcome to view it here.

I teach at a private Christian academy, and my audience at the conference will be other teachers in similar situations, so I have a separate column specifically for moral issues in the songs/videos. Because I know that some people are less tolerant or more tolerant than I am of certain content, I try to go overboard in finding any objection anyone might have in the song. So, just because I put something in that column doesn't mean I wouldn't show/play the video/song for that reason. Sometimes it does (and that will be obvious--no one should show the video for Pingüinos en la cama, in my opinion), but usually it just means I want to give anyone who might be offended a heads-up about the content.

Oh, and an asterisk on "Target features" means that those are the dominant features I use the song to teach.

I'll update it as frequently as I can so keep checking!

Awesome YouTube video

So, even people who don't like animated films love the "I want to move it, move it" song on Madagascar.

Someone put it in Spanish on YouTube! You gotta check it out. "Quiero" was one of our Spanish 1 words of the week last week, so I'm going to show it this week. My students are going to love it!