Even though I have switched to an acquisition-driven, whole-language approach to teaching Spanish, I still like to do mini grammar lessons every once in awhile.
When should I give a grammar lesson?
I always wait to give an expository grammar lesson until after my students have been repeatedly exposed to whatever it is that I want to present to them and use it as more of a way to organize information than anything else. Some kids really benefit from from learning the rules, and they are able to apply them with their monitor (when they have the time to do so!).
Keep your grammar lessons short and the stakes low!
Some kids, however, just get confused by grammar lessons– this is one of the major reasons that language program attrition has been so high! Historically, we have taught students rules (that aren’t psychologically real) and then holding them accountable to mastering them. For that reason, I try to keep the presentation of information to a minimum and use most of the time spent doing a ‘grammar lesson’ providing students to contextualized, comprehensible input that contains repeated instances of the pattern at hand.
Sample grammar lesson – Subject pronouns in Spanish
When I teach a mini lesson on Spanish subject pronouns, I start by going through a single-page, guided notes sheet with my students. We move through this quickly, and then my students read a short story in Spanish. Here is the reading in English, so that you can adapt it for your language of instruction:
Subject pronouns reading: A new love
I have a friend named Natalie. Every day, Natalie walks to my house with her sister María because Natalie and María don’t have a car. Natalie, María, and I go to McDonalds in my car and Natalie, María and I eat hamburgers. A guy named David works at McDonalds. David is very attractive. Natalie likes to talk with David, but David can’t talk much while he’s working because David has to make a lot of hamburgers. But at five in the afternoon, David doesn’t have to work anymore, and Natalie, María, David, and I walk to David’s car to say goodbye. Natalie and David talk a lot because Natalie and David want to be boyfriend and girlfriend. After saying goodbye, Natalie, María, and I go to my car and Natalie, María, and I return to my house.
Reading activity 1: Sequencing
Please put the following events in the order in which they are mentioned in the story (write the numbers 1-5 in the circles):
- The girls go to McDonalds.
- David makes a lot of hamburgers.
- Natalia and her sister walk to their friend’s house.
- David can talk with the girls.
- Las chicas eat hamburgers.
Reading activity 2: Read and discuss
Make sure that you spend lots of time personalizing the reading! Discuss it by asking questions like….
- Do you have a car?
- To where do you walk?
- Where do you like to hang out with your friends?
- Do you know of an attractive person that works at the mall or a restaurant?
- Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Are you shy?
- What do you do when you want to date someone?
- Do you have a job?
- Is it appropriate to talk to your friends if they come visit you at work?
Reading activity 3: replace with pronouns
Students replace all underlined phrases with the appropriate subject pronoun by writing the pronoun above the underlined phrase.
Get the Subject Pronouns lesson in Spanish!
You can download this lesson, including notes and reading, here:
Looking for more reading-based grammar notes? Check out this Grammar in Context bundle: