Intermediate Spanish

I prepared this PowerPoint for the first day of class with “demotivators” in order to give the students some important guidelines about our Spanish course.

I designed this simple task to practice the direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish using inspiring images. With this short task I promoted metalinguistic reflection and analysis on a commercial’s slogan which included direct and indirect object pronouns.

I prepared this PowerPoint to practice one of the past tenses in Spanish (“pretérito” and “imperfecto”). Students practiced their reading, listening, oral, and writing skills in the class. You can see the lesson plan and read this reflection and self-evaluation on the preparation and implementation of this task-based approach: This particular lesson plan and class was, for the most part, successful in fulfilling my objective. As an innovation, instead of using the grammatical topic (“The preterite”) as a PowerPoint title for the class, I opted for a more meaning-based topic: “What happened…?” The syllabus tends to focus on the form, but I think it useful for the student to link meaning with form. The activities were varied, although I felt a bit constrained by the required review of the “preparation homework” in class (I did, however, use this as an opportunity for peer-review), and I felt that the flow of my activities was halting to an extent. I tried to integrate a variety of activities – including all four skills – and I usually find that tasks which are connected to each other and use the same “characters” and series of events to be the most successful. In retrospect, I think I could have included a short written activity between the presentation of input (the structured input activity and the reading of a letter) before the actual writing of a full report in groups. The target language was used at all times by the whole classroom, and I think that students are feeling relatively comfortable with the target language. The selection of material that went beyond the textbook (specifically the images and the video) was successful. Students enjoy this kind of task (based on past feedback), and their expectation and familiarization with this type of activity helped keep the pace of the class smooth and balanced (in this regard I have realized how helpful it is to let students know how much time they have for each task). One aspect that can be improved would be the inclusion of more target-culture related topics. I strive to include aspects of the target language and connect them to the students’ native culture(s), but sometimes I like to vary and focus more on activating students’ mental schemata. In this sense, the IKEA video, the wife’s letter saying that she is leaving her husband, the husband talking to a barman, and the report from the private detectives, all succeeded in providing a familiar context and a creative input and output. Most tasks favored a student-centered approach and students seemed to especially enjoy the creative tasks (the improvised dialog and the group report) and the fact that they could share them with the whole class. Unfortunately, at one juncture my class-management skills were ineffective, as I had to repeatedly ask for students’ attention, but I take this as a sign of them being deeply involved in the task and comfortable in communicating. In this regard, the participation was lively and balanced between most students. When I thoroughly plan my classes and prepare a more step-by-step approach, I find that we can get more work done in class – with ample time for creative activities.

In order to practice the “pretérito vs. imperfecto”, I adapted and expanded a previous lesson plan focusing solely on the “pretérito” that included a short paragraph from Javier María’s novel Corazón tan blanco. I talk about this class and include a short video of my teaching in this section of my Teaching Portfolio. This is the updated and expanded version that included the “pretérito vs. imperfecto”

This class in which we practiced por vs. para” was particularly successful. The final task asked students to use “twitter” (or tuiter, in our Spanish version) following a series of steps. You can see some of the final products, created by the students, who worked in pairs, here. The last part of the class was used to introduce the students to the reading they were going to work with next day: Emilia Pardo Bazán’s short story “El corazón perdido.” This is the lesson for the next day on that reading where students also get to review and practice “por vs. para.”

I designed this computer-mediated task to prepare students for the viewing of Guillermo del Toro’s El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth). The motivation and reflection stems for reading Robert Blake’s article on computer mediated communication: Blake, Robert. “Computer Mediated Communication: A Window on L2 Spanish Interlanguage.” Language Learning and Technology 4.1(2000): 120-36. In designing my task, I have been inspired by the Robert Blake article quoted above. Although Blake uses the program “Remote Technical Assistance” (which no longer seems to be available), I will use “Adobe Connect”, which is also a synchronic way of communicating via technology.  The task is designed to foster collaborative learning outside the classroom, asking pairs of students to virtually meet. As Blake points out, the advantage of using this CMC in lieu of face-to-face oral communication is that it provides students with an opportunity to practice their written skills in a collaborative manner (via “chat” and a collaborative wiki-like task) and, thus enhance their metalinguistic awareness (122-23, 132). This study proves that jigsaw tasks produce more negotiations of meaning than other types of tasks. Since the findings of Blake’s article support pre-existing results, I have designed a CMC jigsaw task to be implemented during the last week of the semester. This sequential task will help students prepare for the viewing of the film El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), which will be discussed during two subsequent classes and also be part of their final exam material. Students will be divided into pairs and each student will receive a different set of four images (stills from the film) with the same set of instructions. These sets present scenes that are, to a certain extent, parallel but, at the same time, representative of the two different dimensions that are merged in the film (history and fantasy). In the first step, students are asked to individually reflect on their image and attempt to deduce what kind of world they depict. In the second step, students will have to make use of the videoconference and chat options available within “Adobe Connect” and explain, taking turns, their sets of pictures to each other. In the third step, they will be able to access each other’s desktop and be able to see the pictures that their classmates had and expand upon their impressions after viewing them. In the final step, students will continue to use their computer programs to collaboratively write a paragraph and describe how they think the worlds depicted in both sets of pictures are connected. As a sub-task of that step, students are asked to focus on form and content by being directed to negotiate meaning and provide feedback for each other, reflecting on their linguistic knowledge. Although the main aim of this task is to provide an opportunity to meaningfully interact outside of the classroom, if we continue to pursue these kinds of CMC tasks with “Adobe Connect”, it would be possible to monitor students’ interest and performance –the program offers the option to monitor student participation and record their videoconferences /use of other visual aids. As Blake observes, this can be a very useful tool for teachers, since “[t]hey provide a window that lets us track the painfully slow development of interlanguage” (133); thus making us all the more aware of our student’s progress and efforts.

In order to work on the imperfect subjunctive I designed a series of tasks using images, a fragment from a newspaper article, and a short commercial. This is the handout that students used.

What better way to learn the indefinite, negative and affirmative expressions with the help of Mafalda,Quino’s comic strip.

In this class, I combined, as usually grammar (subordinate adjective clauses) with “little c” culture to talk about the meaning of lottery in Spain and the importance of the organization ONCE.

Through Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s short article, “Ese bobo del móvil”, students worked on new vocabulary and learned some colloquial expressions with these tasks.

In this PowerPoint about popular culture and media, students are exposed to a short documentary video as part of one of their tasks. There is also an information gap activity that used headlines or quotes from newspaper articles.

I prepared this activity  to review of verbal tenses using Maitena’s comic strip as a way to integrate culture. 

The goal of this class was to promote the acquisition of the vocabulary related to art and literature.

I designed this worksheet worksheet as extra practice related to the reading of Cortázar’s short story “Continuidad de los parques”. 

In this PowerPoint and handout I included the reading of Rosa Montero’s article entitled “El negro”, thus combining reading comprehension and some practice of the passive voice. 


81 thoughts on “Intermediate Spanish

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    I love reading your blog which is a valuable resource for college students studying the language. As someone who is currently learning Spanish in college, I can appreciate the importance of accessible and comprehensive learning materials. For additional support and assistance with coursework or any other academic needs, I recommend exploring Edubirdie to get online service that can greatly contribute to a learning journey.

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    What an innovative and engaging way to start the Spanish course! Using “demotivators” in a PowerPoint presentation is a fresh approach to giving students important guidelines. It’s evident that the preparation for the first day of class was well-thought-out and designed to pique the students’ interest.

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