Activities for a communicative class in Spanish.

27 December, 2014

Hello friends and future professional colleagues!
I want to take advantage of this opportunity that we have, through this blog, to share our experiences and reflections to tell you about my first experiences, internships and reflections as a teacher of Spanish to foreigners.

I decided to carry out this course despite having not studied anything related to language, but instead the complete opposite, as I did a degree in sciences. However at  that time and with my job, I was being drawn to the career I most wanted to do, teaching.

To fund my studies I began working as an instructor and I realised how important it is to have a guide or mentor. A good guide is going to motivate you and inspire you in your learning, discovering your strengths and developing them and knowing your weaknesses and working on them. He/she is going to give you freedom to learn through the system which best develops and improves your knowledge and skills. In this way, a language teacher becomes a guide helping you to learn something as important as a language, a tool which allows us to get to know new cultures, to understand other very different people or which even opens doors for us into a future with more possibilities.

I opted to do the online course because it was impossible for me to attend in-person. Whilst learning alone I sometimes felt a bit frustrated thinking that I was missing the opportunity to put into practice everything that I was studying, but finally I took the plunge and I decided to look for a school abroad to do a volunteering program whilst I was improving another language.
This is how I found a school where I could receive English classes and give Spanish classes to foreigners as a teaching assistant or helper.

I began with a very low level class, total beginners. The profile of the students is very varied, from young 20 year old students to professional adults who over 50 years old. Each of them different objectives, some want to learn Spanish to enjoy their travels around Spanish speaking countries more whilst others want to spend some time in Spain or in other South American countries and also others want to retire under the Mediterranean sun.

Despite the profiles being very different all of them want to learn the language as a communicative tool, to talk with new people and to be able to do day to day tasks such as going to a restaurant, buying something in a market or asking for information.
The fundamental and essential tasks of a teacher during these classes is to keep the pupils motivated, willing to learn and make the effort to improve. There is nothing easy about Spanish and when you are teaching English speaking natives they have less motivation because they know that in almost all instances they will be able to draw on their language to get what they need regardless of the situation they find themselves in.

In addition to this important task, a teacher or guide should aim to make learning a simpler game than it really is. That is the stage that I wanted to get to!

Spanish is complicated and I have especially noticed many difficulties in studying tenses and also in distinguishing between when to use the verbs estar or ser. For this reason I wanted to share with you those exercises and tricks that I have learnt in my class.

An entertaining game which makes the students work to conjugate verbs is “Battleship” and you will tell me….. But in this case they are numbers and letters! However as well as being able to use it as a game to memorise your first numbers and letters we can also conjugate verbs, here is an example.

To play tennis
To go for a walk
To wake up at 8:00
To be English
To go to the cinema
To go on holiday
I x
You xxx
He/She xxxx
We xx
You xx
They xxxx

The game is the same, but instead of saying the number and letter they should say “1c” and the student will say “ I am going for a walk”.

Here is a trick to know when to use the verb ser or estar.  Of course you will find exceptions, but it is a rule which helps students a lot and you will see how their use of the verbs improves.

We use the verb ser…DOCTOR

D for Description “ I am tall and I have blonde hair”
O for Occupation / Profession  “ I am a doctor” C for… Characteristics “ I am intelligent”
T for… Time. “ Today is Monday”, “ it is midday”
O for Origin “ I am from the United Kingdom”
R for…Relationships “ He is my boyfriend”, “ She is my mother”

We use the verb estar…. PLACE (lugar in Spanish)
P for… Position. “ I am sat on the sofa”
L for… Location. “ The bathroom is on the second floor” “ They are in Hawai”
A for… Action “ I am eating”
C for…. Condition. “ Today I am very tired” “ He is a bit mad”
E for..Emotion  “ I am sad”

I hope these tricks and exercises can serve you in the future.

Marta Cabeza.

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