Teaching contextually

In the past, I had always given a vocab list, taught the grammar, then had students use it.  Thanks to all of the research I’ve had to do lately for various reasons, I have been trying to change that order with my lessons by presenting material contextually and make them use it before I teach any rules. 

We have to teach “Verbs like gustar”…  Today, I did an activity to review “Me gusta”.   They did a chain, having to say what the last few people like then what they like.  I made sure they were getting some plurals in there so we had “gustan” too.  For example, Paco says, “A Luz, le gustan las hamburguesas pero no le gusta cocinar.  A Jorge, le gusta tocar la guitarra pero no le gusta bailar.  A mí, me gusta jugar fútbol pero no me gusta correr.”  The next student has to say everything Paco said, then add his own.  They can take notes, but they can’t write full sentences.   If they forgot to write down what someone said, they have to ask them in Spanish (“¿Qué te gusta?…) All the while, I keep track of who has talked and I correct their mistakes/pronunciation.  About halfway through the activity, I switched verbs on them – me interesa and me aburre.  After a round of those, I switched again… I passed out the study guide that has a list of these verbs and a chart for the pronouns.  they had to fill in the pronouns we used today – me, te, and le.  I’ll return to this another day to have them practice with the plural pronouns. 

We also have to cover the preterite right away, because of the new curriculum. I wrote on the board, “El verano pasado, yo fui a las montañas.”  We worked out “el verano pasado” then I turned to students with, “Yo fui a las montañas.  ¿Adónde fuiste?”  As they answered, I repeated for the class, “María fue a la playa….”  Once I felt comfortable that everyone knew what “fui” is for, I put up some regular preterites in the yo form.  Hablé con mis amigos.  Comí un bistec en un restaurante.  I had them get out the verb list and pick an AR verb and do the same with it as I had done with “hablar”.  Then we tried some with ER and IR verbs from the regulars lists.  I wrote them all on the board, periodically asking what they meant.  I had them pick three verbs and form sentences with them.  I let them use those sentences to start off the second paragraph of the essay they are writing. 

When the essays are on the wall, we are doing an activity in which they will read the essays of other students and write sentences in 3rd person about what others wrote.  That’s when I’ll teach the conjugation – after they have been using these for a few classes.  I’ll also have them using the preterite for the oral practice we do with visuals.


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