I have been teaching mostly level 1 Spanish over the last few years and sometimes it’s really hard to speak entirely in Spanish AND explain new activities AND keep them engaged and feeling comfortable. I experiment all the time with my classes to see what interests them and keeps them listening and involved. Here is one daily routine that allows me to use only Spanish, wake them up a little, and helps them get to know each other better.
I take attendance with a ball. This starts during week one. I explain this in Spanish in the most simple way possible with a lot of gestures.
“Good Morning class. How are you? Let’s see who is here and who’s not here. Oh no, where is the ball? (I literally lose it everday, but they all know how to ask that question because of it.) Ok, here it is. This is the red ball. We’re going to pass the … What’s it called? The ball, yes! We’re going to pass the ball from person to person in the same order as the attendance. There are 3 rules in my class when we play with the ball. Rule #1: The ball cannot touch the floor. Rule #2: You have to say the next person’s name in a loud voice, not a quiet voice. Rule #3: We have to do this FAST!
I tell them once what name they will say. I go through the list like this… ”Andres dice ’Rico’, Rico dice ’Valentina’,Valentina dice “Dora’, …” (All my students have Hispanic names.) Eventually we get to the point where a student is absent. They quickly learn to say “Rico no está” and they will ask me who is next and I just point at the person, and they usually get that they have to ask ¿Cómo te llamas? themselves.
Eventually it sounds like this… Andres, Rico, Valentina, Dora, Pedro, Jose, Chuey, Natalia, Isabel no está, Santiago, Carlos…and the last student says “Señorita” and passes it to me. It is a beautiful thing to hear and I’ve only been hit in the head once!
I have had a few classes that could do this in 30 seconds, and that is with 31 kids in the class! I challenge all my classes to beat 30 seconds and if they do I tell them there will be extra credit involved.
This becomes a fun daily routine in every class. One day I had an observation and I tried to skip it and the class wouldn’t let it go. “¿Dónde está la pelota, Señorita?” So we did and my observer liked it! Shew.
Use the target language but do something interesting with it. Get them involved and make them do a little more each time. They may start just by figuring out what is going on and saying one name. Later, have them help explain the rules. (The ball can’t touch the … what?) Finally, challenge them to tell the rules to a friend or in front of the class.
This works for me because…
- it reminds me to take attendance
- students thinks it is fun
- we repeat it every day so they get to hear words over and over in context
- we all learn each other’s names
- after about a week it only takes about 1 minute to do
I’ve heard many people say their language teacher was crazy. I know I am! We do what we gotta do!
Have a great day