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The Alphabet

August 30, 2012

The alphabet is one of those annoying things to teach. It's easy enough, I suppose, and lends itself well to playing different games and whatnot, but it gets old after a few years. Also, it IS important, and it ISN'T important at the same time. Students don't NEED it to communicate in the target language, except on very rare occasions (like when someone asks you to recite the alphabet...oh wait, that never happens...when someone asks you to spell your name for them), but it helps with decoding and pronunciation. The saving grace for me has been storytelling--you can make anything engaging if you can personalize it! AFTER you've gone over the alphabet with the students a few times and they are comfortable pronouncing the letters (albeit with the support of a notes sheet), try this idea: Preparation:

  1. When students enter the room, have a question posted on the board: Which letter of the alphabet is your favorite?
  2. Also on the board, have the translations written for me gusta, te gusta, and le gusta (I, you, s/he likes). "Le gusta" (s/he likes) should be most prominent.
  3. Have a stack of Alphabet flashcards ready.

Script: Ask a student, «¿Qué letra del abecedario te gusta?» (What letter of the alphabet do you like?). You could also ask for his or her name first, to get in more reps of those structures. When they tell you which letter they like, hold up the flashcard for that letter to show the class, and say "This is (name). (Name) likes the letter (A)". Then, circle it (Does s/he like the letter A? Does s/he like the letter A or the letter B? What letter does s/he like?). Finally, ask the student "Why do you like the letter (A)?" Most often, kids will say (in English) that it's the first letter of their names. This allows you to get reps on the word "begins con" (empieza con), although it's not a target structure. Say "(name) likes the letter (a) because (name) begins with (a)!" Super stars will pick it up, though, and it's a good word to have. Keep working around the room, asking more students what their favorite letters are. At the end, to collect the letters, ask a string of "Who likes the letter (a)?" And pick up the card from that student when the class gets the right answer. Here are some of the other alphabet activities that I use:

  1. Videos--here are the links to three of the videos that I use:
  2. Name game--Have the class stand up. Start spelling a first or last name, and ask students to sit down once they are sure that you are not spelling their name. For example, a student named "Bob Jones" would stand up while you said "B-O" but would sit down after you said "R". A student whose last name is "Bornack" would remain standing.
  3. Kinesthetic letters--Have students spell words using a reusable set of letters by giving them one letter at a time.

Keep in mind these official changes to the alphabet when teaching the Spanish alphabet to your students

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