Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Languages are learnt through repetition but due to curriculum demands there is precious little time to devote to MFL. So how do we help our students remember key phrases and vocabulary? The answer… little and often. By integrating Spanish, or whatever MFL you are teaching, into the everyday routine of the classroom, we enable our pupils to grow in confidence using the language. Here are my top five ways to integrate Spanish into your classroom.
This may be the most obvious but it can be the most fun for your pupils and can be started with any age group. I have done this successfully with my reception class. A year later when I covered their class, they insisted on doing the ‘fun Spanish register’.
It can be as simple as –
Teacher: ‘Hola’ or ‘Buenos Días’
Pupil: ‘Hola’ or ‘Buenos Días’
Or it may include a little rhyme. With my class we did the following:
Teacher: ¿Hola name, cómo estás?
Pupil: ¡Muy bien, gracias! (pupils give a thumbs up)
Children can also respond to you with vocabulary around the topic you are learning at that moment or simply their favourite Spanish word.
Teacher: Hola. ¿Cuál es tu color favorite?
Pupil: Mi color favorito es rojo.
Adjust how much language is used based on your time constraints and the confidence of your pupils. They could simply answer ‘rojo’.
Some children are very anxious to speak in front of the class so always give the option not to respond, or respond later.
2) P.E. lessons
P.E. lessons are a great opportunity to practice Spanish. With some very basic vocabulary, it is easy to teach P.E. using mostly Spanish, or at the very least the warm up. If children are unsure or confused by the instructions you can always demonstrate instead. Useful vocabulary includes: parts of the body, directions and action verbs (run, stop, jump). You can download free flash cards and power point activities for action verbs here.
An example of a great warm up game is ‘Simon says’ or ‘Simon dice’
Teacher: ‘Simon dice, salta’ (Simon says, jump)
Teacher: ‘Simon dice, para’ (Simon says, stop)
Teacher: ‘corra’ (Run)
Children: ¡Es una trampa! (It’s a trick!)
Language note: when giving instructions to more than one person in Spanish they add a ‘d’ to the end of the word. E.g. ‘para’ (stop) become ‘parad’. Although this is correct most Spanish people would understand ‘para’ and it may unnecessarily complicate the language point you are teaching.
It is important to make any game as simplistic as possible at first, e.g. not including too many ‘trampas’ (tricks) in Simon says. It takes a while to process the language and it is important to allow for that time. As children get more accustomed to the game, they will want more of a challenge!
For more warm up in Spanish ideas, please click the link to my blog post ‘The Best P.E. Warm Up Activities in Spanish.’
Don't forget to include key vocabulary in whatever language game your are playing. For example, when splitting the class into teams it is fun to give each team a name. It could be a colour, an animal or an object. Encourage your children to identify themselves using the phrase, ‘Yo soy ____. (I am _____ ). Another great phrase, also very useful to encourage turn taking, is ‘me toca a mí’ (it’s my turn) or ‘te toca a tí’. I encourage children to use this phrase by saying ‘no entiendo’ (I don’t understand) or looking confuse when they naturally shout, ‘it’s my turn!’. Children very quickly pick up the phrase when they want their go!
Me toca a mí – it’s my turn
Te toca a tí – it’s your turn
Le toca a ella – it’s her turn
Le toca a él – it’s his turn
As we all know, transitions are very important for the smooth running of the classroom. We can use Spanish really simply to settle children quickly while revising and reusing some simple Spanish vocabulary.
1, 2, 3 – Transitioning from carpet to tables
uno – stand up
dos – move to chair
tres – sit down in chair
I find this has worked very well with my more ‘spirited’ classes as I am able to stop after each action if they are not calm enough. You could introduce different vocabulary such as, colours or semáforos (traffic lights).
Verde (green) – stand up
Amarillo (yellow) – move to table
Rojo (red) – sit down
¡Listos, preparados, ya! (Ready, set, go!)
If you are looking for speed, this is a good option to go for. Warning, it may provide too much excitement for the more spirited class! It is a phrase often used by Spanish children.
5) The Weather and the Date
A nice way to start off the morning is by reviewing the date and weather. There are some lovely fabric calendars that you can buy, this one costs £34.99 and I have included a link below:
I have also created a power point file under ‘free resources’ for you to use each morning with your class.
Teachers and pupils’ days are busy so don’t be disheartened if you don’t fit in more than one or two activities at a time. As the habit of using Spanish becomes a natural part of the day, it will seem easier to integrate more and more language. Please let me know how you get on with these activities and if you have any more ways that you use Spanish in your classroom by commenting below.