Get a scoop of Proficiency

It was last year that I blogged about Promoting Performance, and I adopted Shelby County School’s ice cream metaphor throughout the year to talk about  performance and A blog post about using the metaphor of Ice cream to talk about proficiency in the world language classroom.proficiency with my students. My phrase to students on assessments or just to encourage them in class was to “SCOOP IT UP!” I even had a back and forth call with my students where I would yell “Get a scoop of what?” and they would respond “ice cream” “What?!” “Ice cream!”. It was really silly, but the kids enjoyed it.

With the start of the school year, it is fun to see how everybody is showcasing the performance levels in their classroom. I’ve seen some great pictures of bulletin boards, posters, signs, and more that help students on their path to proficiency.

In continuing with the ice cream theme this year, I’ve made the following posters. (I am SO lucky my school has a poster maker!) Check them out….

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New song for Me Gusta

Colombian JBalvin collaborates with Pharrel Willams and others on this new song called Safari. It’s a current song, and unlike Me Gustas Tu by Manu Chao (which I know some teachers have used), it does not talk about marijuana or use the structure to talk about liking (as in I like-like you) someone.

Check out the video and lyrics below:   Continue reading

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Spanish from Day 1

The first day of Spanish class. You want to be welcoming, you want the students to feel comfortable. You also want to set the expectation that this class is different. You want to maintain 90% of the class in the target language. It can be done. Here’ a few ideas.

One of the first things I do while taking attendance is establish the name students call me. After I say the students name, I prompt them to say “Hola, profe” or “Sí, profe”. If they say “Sí”, I will prompt them with what I want them to say. I make sure that they repeat it. I do this for the first several days. Sometimes I will just say a students’ name and look/nod at them and wait to them to say “Sí, profe”.

I then give the students an introduction of myself. I talk about where I am from, my family, my background in teaching and traveling, and my hobbies. During this period of time, I am speaking as if I am talking to a native speaker. I do not use visuals, I do not restate in simple terms/vocabulary. I do not give processing time. I then ask students what they understood. The response is usually not little if anything. Then, in Spanish, I explain that I am going to do it again, but this time differently.

I use this PowerPoint Template (you can download for free and input your own information). This time, I use visuals from the Powerpoint. I explain it in simple terms. I give processing time. I speak at a slower rate. I check the audience for understanding. I do everything I can to make it comprehensible.

TL from day 1Then I ask students to tell me what they understood. This time, they can tell me everything! I then ask them (in English) why they understood more the second time. I explain to them that I will be speaking to them in Spanish, BUT that it is my job to make it comprehensible to them. Their job is to be active listeners, because watching my gestures or visuals is important to their understanding. This helps them feel comfortable and not be so overwhelmed that I am just going to be rambling in Spanish.

On the second day, I like to do some sort of TASK that students have to accomplish. They have to listen to the instructions and follow along with what I am modeling. At the end of the class, I ask them if they were able to accomplish the task? When they say yes, I remind them that they were successful in accomplishing something and they didn’t need English to do it. One example is to have them set up their notebook, or you can have them create a passport booklet.




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Getting the year started

1st year spanish teacher ideasIf you’ve just been hired or are starting your first year as a Spanish teacher, you are probably a) super excited and b) quite nervous.

Hopefully we can help calm those nerves and make your year start out smooth.

Here are some tips to help get you ready:

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Facebook Project Giveaway

Our Spanish Facebook Profile Project is one of our best sellers. And according to the reviews, it’s not only a hit with teachers, but students love it too. And it’s no wonder. Students not only create their own Facebook profile page, but also a newsfeed with posts from their “friends” as well as a notification page, just like facebook.

Also included is a list of common “text-talk”: abbreviations native speakers use when texting. Such as “a2” for “adiós”. French Facebook Project

So we are excited to announce that we now have a French version of this project. And you could win either one of these versions on our Facebook giveaway.

All you need to do is to go to our Facebook page, and tag a French teacher in the comments of our most recent post. The people you tag will be eligible to win the French version and anyone who tags (that’s you!) is entered to win the French OR Spanish version.

For more French resources, check out our French page.


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What’s the Acronym for Acquisition?

We’ve all heard them. Most of us have probably even used them at one point or another. I’m talking about those cute little songs and acronyms to memorize grammar rules, irregular forms, verbs, and more.

commands irregularsExample: Your students are learning about command forms. So, you give them this little trick (on right) to remember the irregular forms for positive tú commands: Ven Di Sal Haz Ten Ve Pon Sé.

Easy Peasy. Your students are going to rock out on the commands quiz.


verbos irregulares preterito
Or how about using the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to memorize the irregular yo form verbs in the preterite. Sing that little tune during the quiz, and you’ll be set!

Then there are all the acronyms to remember the difference between Ser and Estar (Doctor Place), when to use the subjunctive (WEIRDO), and I’m sure they are many many more examples.


These tools may be great help to pass a quiz. But are they really that useful when it comes to acquiring a language? Continue reading

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Takeaways School Year 2015 2016

On the last day of class I had my students  fill out a course evaluation survey to gather their feedback. A few things stuck out and will help in my planning for next year:

  1. Stories! A majority of students specifically mentioned the MovieTalks we did in class and enjoyed them very much. A side note: the stories we choose can also have morals Spanish course evaluationor takeaways. Two students specifically mentioned that the MovieTalk of Destiny made them realize that maybe they shouldn’t be too focused on things (such as checking their cellphone all the time) and instead be aware of the world around them.
  2. Speaking of MovieTalks, a lot of kids mentioned their annoyance of me pausing the video so frequently. After some teacher discussion, it made me realize I need to explain to students the process and why I do what I do. Students want instant gratification to find out what happens. They are engaged in the movie. They don’t even realize they are acquiring language during the video.
  3. Going along with the last point, one of my goals for next year will be to better (and more frequently) explain to students how proficiency and acquisition works.
  4. 30 Days. I’ve shown this episode of 30 Days for the last 7 years and I thought about not showing it this year, because we talked so much about immigration already, especially after reading Esperanza, and watching some clips of children in detention centers. But I am glad I showed it anyway. Students responded well to the movie and were able to see the life of a family both before they came to the US and after. Many students mentioned this video in their evaluation.
  5. Profe of the Week: This is something I started the year with and it kind of died out over halfway through the year, but it is something that students seemed to really enjoy. Each week a student is assigned to be the “profe” and starts the class by asking some review questions. Another activity that students enjoyed was talking about their weekend plans on Friday (voy a) and Monday (past tense) which I will start earlier in the year next year.

If you haven’t finished out the year yet, here is a version of the survey I gave to my students: Course Evaluation 2016

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Top 100 Language Lovers

We have once again been nominated by Babla’s Language Lover’s competition in two categories. We would love your vote for “Spanish Plans”. Top Language Learning

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Please share this post and vote as often as you can. We appreciate your support.

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Making your own CI movies

After my class finished reading the TPRS Publishing novel Esperanza and were working on their final projects, I spent some time playing around with an iPad and ended up making a video for chapter 1.
The most useful aid in comprehension for my own students had been the Audio Book that we listened to as students followed along in their books. This was my first time Making Movies for CIusing the book and perhaps there were a few parts that I could have done a better job in making sure all students had full comprehension of the events in the chapter. One way to aid in comprehension is to make your own “movie” of the events of the book.  You can also use this technique for ANY story you tell in class and we are going to tell you how. Continue reading

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Appropriation in Education

I’m glad to see many people responding to our #MasQueSombreros /#MoreThanSombreros challenge and enjoy the new hashtag #ReclaimCinco (on Instagram and Twitter)

As educators, we must demand the end of the appropriation of the Mexican culture. This is never more prominent than on Cinco de Mayo.

Stop with the Sombreros. Stop with the Talking Tacos. Stop the mustaches. Stop the donkeys. Stop the cactuses and maracas. Stop the appropriation of a rich culture. Let’s educate, not stereotype.

I urge our followers to help put an end to the stereotyping. We don’t need to look any further than one of the largest Spanish Teacher companies, Continue reading

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