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Tips and Activities for Teaching Spanish Commands

written by: lwitkop • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 1/20/2012

Understanding commands is a key skill for Spanish language learners. Use these ideas to help your students learn how to say and recognize both formal and informal commands in Spanish.

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    Tips for Teaching Spanish Commands

    Repetition is key in helping students learn new verb conjugations. It is also important to provide equal practice in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

    Use commands when giving everyday classroom instructions so that students can become familiar with the forms before receiving specific instruction in how to use commands. This will also help students learn some irregular conjugations because common command words like "put" and "tell" have irregular forms.

    Abran sus libros a capítulo tres. – Open your books to chapter three.

    Siéntense. – Sit down.

    Ve a la oficina. – Go to the office.

    Díme la respuesta. – Tell me the answer.

    When practicing the use of both familiar and formal commands, create a way to mark some students as subjects requiring the use of usted. Some teachers like the visual of a large cardboard tie that a student can place around his or her neck. Whoever is wearing the tie must be addressed with the formal usted form. Stickers or pins would also work to delineate and usted students.

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    Activities for Teaching Spanish Commands

    Create a set of directions for students to follow. Some ideas include describing a drawing that students try to recreate, giving students basic craft supplies or building blocks and telling them how to assemble an object and passing out a set of objects or pictures and informing students how to group them. Include a mix of affirmative and negative commands. This can also be a good way to review prepositions and directions with commands such as Dibuja un círculo a la izquierda (Draw a circle to the left). Read the directions out loud or pass out printed copies. Check students' final products to assess their comprehension. After you have modeled the activity with the whole class, ask the students to create their own set of directions that they will share with a partner or small group.

    Play Simon Says. Ask the students to take turns leading the group so they can practice creating the correct command forms in addition to listening for them. This is also good review for body parts vocabulary.

    Ask students to create and present a skit based on the idea of giving commands. Possible scenarios include a boss and workers, a teacher and students and a parent and children.

    In addition to more active ideas for teaching Spanish commands, when it comes to learning how to form commands, students also need basic written practice. Fill-in-the-blank worksheets can help students decide on the proper verb endings. Present students with photos or drawings of people and ask them to command the person in the image to do something. For instance, an image of a child at the dinner table could lead to the commands Come los vegetales (Eat the vegetables) and No salgas de la mesa antes de los demás (Don't leave the table before others).

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    Whichever methods you choose to reinforce your teaching of Spanish commands, students will appreciate the chance to practice this new information in a variety of ways.