28 January 2010

A high-interest exercise for imperfect/pasado continuo

In my class, my students know that I don't care if they know what imperfect or preterite means. Often we call them descriptive past and sudden past, because that's the best way in my opinion to contrast them.  The trick with putting them together is to get students to use one when they're describing ongoing action and switch to the other when they want to say what happened.  We do a story, where they fill in the details, in which our two characters were going somewhere (a birthday party for the horse's mother) in some way (on an airplane) doing something (eating chocolate straws) with someone else doing something (Miley Cyrus not wearing enough clothing) when something happens (the plane fell) and while that was happening other things happened (the people screamed, the horse pushed Miley Cyrus out of the plane).

I thought about using children's books as a follow-up exercise, having them describe what was happening on the page.  I did that very quickly at the end of a class, as an oral activity, and I pushed them to make the exercise very rapid so they didn't have time to get bored, but I thought, if I do this again they're going to get bored with it as a writing exercise.  But it's almost March Madness.  We live in KY where basketball is king. I have 2 girls who will probably have a volleyball scholarship in college.  I've been hyping up the upcoming World Cup. What if I find amazing sports videos, culturally relevant, in Spanish, to use instead?

So these are what we found.  Manu Ginobli, the most accomplished Latin American basketball player ever, beats Serbia & Montenegro at the buzzer in the 2004 Olympics (make sure your students watch the clock & the score box).  The USA scores on a fabulous corner kick in a World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico. Peru's volleyball team makes an amazing play in their bid for a spot in the 2010 World Championship games in Japan after their star actually kicks the ball--I didn't even know that was legal.

We watched the videos through, used sudden past to say what happened in the big moment of the game, and then paused the video in different areas.  We named some random person on the screen, and each student had to use the continuous past (our focus of the week) to say qué estaba haciendo esa persona. We did this 3 or 4 times for each video and I took the writing as a daily grade. It worked beautifully.  My students could have watched the videos a dozen times so they didn't even care that they were technically doing a grammar writing exercise.

Here are the videos:

19 January 2010

A song with 17 verbs in past subjunctive

Past subjunctive is not the easiest thing to find in a song, much less several repetitions of it.  I blogged a bit about a couple of songs that do it, but I this song just crossed my radar and wow, what a gem for past subjunctive.  It has 17 verbs in the past subjunctive, 8 of them unique.  They're almost all part of unreal if clauses, and the cool thing is that you can see the use of the concept without the actual word 'if,' something that's not taught in textbooks. (Again, textbooks fail us.)

As an added benefit, you have 'quiera' as  subjunctive by reason of indefinite antecedent (for a better song for that, see this post).  Thanks Carlos Vives (@carlosylaprovin on Twitter) for injecting some fun in one of the hardest concepts in the Spanish language.

Como Tú
Carlos Vives

Tú no sabes lo que diera
si me vieras y dijeras tú,
que no sabes que yo quiero
que mi vida la quisieras tú,
si supieras que me gustan
son las cosas que prefieres tú,
que quisiera que los hijos
que tengamos fueran como tú.

Como tú, la primavera.
Como tú, la vez primera.
No haya nadie que me quiera.
Como tú, mi vida entera.

Tú, tú, tú, mi vida entera.
Tú, tú, tú, mi vida entera.

Me perdonas si yo insisto,
que mi vida la quisieras tú.
Que de todas las estrellas
que yo he visto, la más linda, tú.
Si supieras que me gustan
son las cosas que prefieres tú.
Que quisiera que los hijos
que tengamos fueran como tú.

(coro otra vez)

Si las noticias fueran como tú.
Y las ciudades fueran como tú.
Y si las calles fueran como tú.
Y si mi jefe fuera como tú.
Y si mi vida fuera como tú.
Y mis canciones fueran como tú.
Y si la guerra fuera como tú,
No habría problema todos como tú

(coro y tag otra vez)

18 January 2010

My corporate Spanish links, all in one place

I just tagged on my Delicious all the Spanish-language corporate websites that I've mentioned on my blog.  It makes it a lot more convenient to find the sites that my students have found interesting.  You can find it here:


11 January 2010

"Adora la Exploradora"-the week we didn't feel like a boring past-tense review

Last week it was time to start reviewing how the two past tenses work together, and I just didn't feel like the usual diagrams, writing exercises, prompted conversations, etc.  So now that we have our Flip cameras, I told the students to write a movie script.  They had to use both past tenses, and they had to use every subject at least once.  We have a student whose name in my class is Adora, and they had the idea to make "Adora la exploradora." They started making this student Backpack, that student Grandma, and the ideas kept flying.  I think it turned out super fun.  We're going to be filming today and tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it!  I wish I could post the video, but I don't post pictures or video of my students on public websites.

After the first day, the video was planned all in Spanish.  Also, two separate classes did the planning and will be filming the same way.  In Word the diacritical marks were all there and correct, but they didn't copy/paste here.



Narrador: Adora y Boots salieron de su casa, porque ellos querían ir a la casa de los abuelos de Adora y comer galletas. Antes de que salieran, buscaron al Mapa.

Adora y Boots: Hola Mapa!

Mapa: Soy el Mapa (10x)Bosque, puente, montaña, casa de abuelos. Díganlo conmigo. Bosque, puente, montaña, casa de abuelos. (2x)

Narrador: Adora y Boots lo dijeron.

Narrador: Cuando salieron de la casa, caminaron al bosque espantoso y entonces llegaron. Adora vio a Swiper! ¡Ay de nosotros!

Swiper(salta del bosque):

Adora y Boots: ¡Swiper no robes! ¡Swiper no robes!

Narrador: Pero Swiper le robó la chamarra a Boots.

Swiper: Demasiado tarde. JAJAJA.

Adora y Boots: ¡Ay de nosotros!

Narrador: La buscaron y no la encontraron. Así que corrieron al puente. Adora y Boots llegaron al puente y el trol les cerró el paso. y No pudieron pasar.

Adora y Boots: ¡Por favor! ¡Necesitamos pasar e ir a la casa de mis abuelos ahorita o las galletas estarán frías! ¡Trajimos la ardilla, Tico, en nuestra mochila para ayudar a comer las galletas!

Trol: No quiero que ustedes pasen, pero si resuelven la adivinanza pueden pasar. Este es la adivinanza: -Tengo frío y calor y no frío sin calor.-

Adora y Boots: Hmmmmmm.

Tico: ¡Yo sé! ¡Yo sé!

Adora y Boots: ¿Qué?

Tico: ¡Sartén!

Trol: Respondiste correctamente. Tristemente… Tristemente… Tuve hambre.

Adora y Boots: Eres muy inteligente, Tico. Te amamos.

Tico: No los amo. Lo siento.

Adora y Boots: ¡Grrrrr! ¡Sal! Pero gracias para la solución. Adiós.

Narrador: Adora y Boots caminaron sobre el puente muy rápido y subieron la Montaña Vegas donde se dieron con el toro.

Adora y Boots: ¡Hola Benny!

Benny: ¡Hola Adora! ¡Hola Boots! Estoy comiendo mi almuerzo. Me alegra verlos porque no los veo hace mucho tiempo.

Adora: Tenemos un problema. Necesitamos buscar a Swiper porque le robó la chamarra de Boots.

Boots: Estoy muy triste. Quiero mi chamarra. Mi amigo Tico me la dio para mi cumpleaños pasado. Es mi favorita.

Adora: ¿Has visto a Swiper o la chamarra de Boots?

Benny: Yo sé dónde está la chamarra.

Boots: ¿DÓNDE ESTA? Yo la quiero.

Benny: Swiper la tiró en el árbol. Porque la chamarra no le quedaba muy bien.

Boots y Adora: ¿Dónde está el árbol?

Benny: Pregúntenle al mapa.

Mochila: Yo lo tengo.

Mapa: ¡Aquí estoy!

Adora y Boots: Mapa, ¿Dónde está el árbol?

Mapa: Allí (Señala con el dedo)

Narrador: Adora y Boots se apresuraron al árbol y consiguieron la chamarra. Entonces, Adora y Boots fueron a la casa de abuelos.

Los Abuelos y Diego: ¡Adora y Boots! ¡Nos hicieron falta!

Adora y Boots: ¡Hola! ¿Como han estado?

Los Abuelos: Muy bien y muy cansado pero hicimos galletas para Uds.

Diego: ¿Qué de yo?

Los Abuelos: Ok. (a Adora y Boots)Compartan con Diego.

Adora y Boots y Diego: ¡Ñum Ñum Ñum DELICIOSAS!

Adora y Boots: (a audiencia) ¡Gracias por ayudarnos! ¡ADIOS!

EL FIN!!!!!!!!

07 January 2010

My level 1 and 2 stories (for Bethanie, and whomever else)

A little while ago I made a post about pleasure reading that elicited a few comments from Bethanie:
Bethanie said...

Could you elaborate on what you do with the reading guides/palabras claves? I would like to incorporate more long reading into my classes in addition to the shorter pieces I already use, but struggle with some of the same things you mentioned.

Also, if you could select books for levels 1 and 2, what would you pick?


Sarita said...

Hi Bethanie! Now I just hand the students the guides/palabras claves and they turn them in on the due date. A couple of tips that are important, I think, are 1) to reduce frustration, read together at first to teach them how to find the important things without looking up every word (make sure you understand subject/verb, leave the sentence as soon as you have the gist of it, leave the paragraph as soon as you have the gist, understand every part of a sentence when you know the answer to a ? is there); 2) give them the page numbers of the answers to the questions and make sure they're chronological; 3) give a list of high-frequency words from the chapter that they're not likely to know; and 4) rehash the chapter in a TPRS/circling way when they turn in the guide to gauge who understood what.
As for books for lower levels, have you seen the TPRS books by Blaine Ray et al? You can start here. Good luck!

Bethanie said...

Hi Sarita,
Thanks for your response. I have a few of the Blaine Ray novels, and I think they are a great idea to consider. I find teaching this type of reading to be a greater challenge at the lower levels (1-2) than at the upper levels (3+), so I appreciate the ideas that you've shared.

When I first started giving my students stories with comprehension questions as assessment, I remember wishing there were more available for free on the internet, especially for lower-level students. I'm still not aware of anyone publishing or offering such stories on the internet, but at least I'd like to offer mine to Bethanie and anyone else who wants to use them. A few notes about them:
1-I believe that students pay more attention with a lower affective filter (and therefore acquire more) if the stories are interesting, funny, weird, or all of the above.
2-Long stories are frustrating so none is longer than 1 page.
3-Sorry for any mistakes/misprints. Feel free to make them your own.
4-They deliberately use vocabulary my students learned in that particular quarter. You may want to replace words to match your students' vocabulary.
5-The stories that are one page long with questions on the other page, I scored as tests.
6-There are a couple of stories I wrote for them to answer questions on (quiz grade) and then they filled in blanks with different details to make the story their own (daily grade) and exchanged with another student(s) who answered the questions based on the new story (quiz grade).

Level 1 stories
Level 2 stories

Hope you find them useful!