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Days of the Week

September 2, 2012

A question came through the #flteach Listserv today from a teacher looking for different activities to teach the days of the week. I have always just taught my students a song sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" (she uses one sung to the tune of Clementine), and then supported it throughout the year by including the days of the week in different stories that we use. But after I read the post, I was left wondering what lesson I could create that would teach my students SEVEN new vocabulary words through comprehensible input. I would have to say that it is not realistic for students to acquire seven new terms in one lesson (research shows that students can acquire just ten new vocabulary words each week--and that's in their native language!). With the support of a "catchy" tune (if you can call it that, haha), though, they might feel pretty comfortable with all seven after a lesson that targets a few of them.

Have students make a week-long calendar on a blank piece of paper (seven columns labeled with the days of the week). Since I assume that you are teaching days of the week to beginning language students, the kids won't have much vocabulary, so the activity should target one verb. Therefore, I have chosen to make the activity all about watching TV. (If you want more practice for the verb 'mirar', check out these plans.) Have them draw a picture or write the name of a TV program that they watch each day in the corresponding column. This works well because students can use proper nouns to say the names of the TV programs, and so they only need to learn one new word in order to talk about it--"to watch".

On the board, write the TL and English translations of the following words:

  1. mira (s/he watches)
  2. The seven days of the week

Then, begin questioning your students, all the while pointing at the words on the board with their translations, pausing, and circling the new vocabulary. If you aren't familiar with this practice, it would look something like this:

Snatch a student's paper. Look at what s/he has drawn on Monday night. Say to the class (all in the target language), "Class, Jimmy watches football on Monday night!" (football is a cognate so it works--just write it on the board for good measure). "Does Jimmy watch football on Monday night?" (Yes) "Yes, he watches football on Monday night!" (continue circling with either/or and open ended questions). Then, "Class, Jimmy watches football on Thursday nights, too!" "Does he watch football on Monday night and Thursday night or Monday night and Tuesday night?" Blah blah blah. Then, give Jimmy back his paper and snatch another student's. Begin the process over again, then start comparing students' answers and grouping them together (Jimmy and Elise watch football on Monday nights! Does Elise watch football at her house or at Jimmy's house? At Jimmy's house! On the sofa with Jimmy! And Jimmy's mom too!...this is how things get interesting ;-) ).

The next day, have students check out a Spanish TV schedule. You could do this as a class activity or as individual work, and you could have students actually visit the websites if you have computer access, or you could print out screen shots.

I whipped up this document tonight that I plan to use this coming week when I do this with my beginning classes! In addition to the screen shots from, it contains a cultural reading (in Spanish) about the channel "CLAN", which is a children's TV channel in Spain and has seven questions for students to answer based on the screen shots of three days' worth of TV programming. Both the reading and the questions are comprehensible for students in their second week of Spanish. It provides students with additional repetitions of singular present-tense forms of the verb "mirar" and of the days of the week "sábado", "domingo", and "lunes".

You could certainly use it as an individual reading activity, but I think that I will read the blurb about CLAN as a class and then have students answer the questions individually before reviewing them as a class.

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