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My second year Spanish students need some practice distinguishing between subjects with their verb forms (subject/verb agreement), so I modified and typed up one of my student's free writes (work smarter, not harder, right?) for a good ol' horizontal conjugation practice.

What is a horizontal conjugation?

A horizontal conjugation is a perspective re-write. It is a way for students to consider the grammar and construction of the language with a focus on meaning–not form. A horizontal conjugation is a way for language students to attend to the grammar and syntax of a language by considering a text in its entirety--keeping the focus on MEANING, not FORM. Learn more at www.comprehensibleclassroom.comThen, I realized that I needed another reading assessment for that class, so I embellished it a bit more with target vocabulary from the quarter and typed up some comprehension questions. Here is the final product: Ladrones. This story includes primarily the target structures from Chapters 1-3 of Pobre Ana that I introduced with stories throughout this quarter.

How do to an input-focused Horizontal Conjugation

  1. OPTIONAL READING ASSESSMENT STEP: Students read a passage on their own and respond to comprehension questions (I gave them the questions on a separate 1/4 piece of paper so that they could hand that in before we continued the activity)
  2. Review the reading with the class, personalizing and circling and all that jazz. You could use the projector-friendly version like this one for my Ladrones story.
  3. Have students work by themselves or with a partner to change the perspective: edit the story so that it is being told from a different perspective or in a different tense. In my example, I had students re-write the story as if they were Juan telling it from his own perspective. When students do this, they will not only need to change verb forms (from third person singular and plural to first person), but also possessive adjectives and all sorts of other fun things. I have my students edit the original paper, but you could have them re-write it completely on a separate piece of paper.
  4. Review the correct horizontal conjugation as a class. Alternatively, you could skip Step 3 and work through the perspective change altogether.
  5. If you want to be really crazy, you could have students re-edit it from the second person perspective...but that's a bit of overkill, I think. Maybe as a homework, but not in class. It's a great story (I was so proud of my student that wrote it!), but even great stories get lame when you've analyzed them four times over!


Check out this ready-to-go reading about a mysterious creature! Horizontal conjugation activity overview #keepitcomprehensible Activities for comprehension based language classes oriented toward proficiency.

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