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Keep the Energy Up
Physical activity is a good way of collecting your students’ attention and keeping it, no matter what their innate learning style is. For kinesthetic learners, playing active Spanish games that let you get up and move is invaluable; aural and visual learners will benefit from taking in all the activity around them.
These fun games for learning Spanish can also be adapted for use in any language learning class, including English as a Second Language.
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Simon Says--en español, of course--is the perfect way to practice imperatives. In this active Spanish game, students take turns ordering the rest of the class around. Just as in the English version of the game, anyone that follows an order that wasn’t preceded with “Simón dice..." is out and has to sit down. The game ends when everyone is out, and a new "boss" is selected for the next go-round.
For an extra twist on this classic game, divide the class into two teams. Each team picks a “Simón" to start with. Then alternate between teams, with each “Simón" issuing commands to the other team. The goal is to get the other team’s players out before your own are similarly outed. Rotate who plays the “Simón" role within each team after a few commands are issued so that everyone gets a chance. Of course, players who are “out" miss the chance to play “Simón".
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Pin the Flag on the Country
If you’re trying to teach your students Latin American country names in Spanish, the old children’s game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey may do the trick. You’ll need a very large wall map of the world or whichever continent you’re learning about at a given time, some thumbtacks, a blindfold and pictures of various country flags pasted onto index cards. If you can’t come up with images of country flags, just print out the country names in Spanish and use those instead.
Stand one student at a time near the wall with the map, blindfold him, and carefully spin him around a couple of times to disorient him. Then hand him one of the thumbtack/card flags or country names and tell him which country it is. He has to somehow pin the correct country name or flag in the correct place in the map. Given that he’s blindfolded and disoriented, he can only do that with his fellow students’ help. It’s their job to direct him (in Spanish, of course) until he gets the marker in the right place. Then it’s another student’s turn.
You can play this active Spanish game in one class as a whole or in small teams. If you play with teams, those who pin the marker correctly advance to the next round and those who don’t get the marker in the right place can sit down or be melded into one of the continuing teams. Break ties, if necessary, by giving the win to the fastest team. And if you're not studying countries right now, you can still use the good old unfortunate donkey--who should be available at any party store--and his cola to good use. Your students will still refine their ability to issue and understand imperatives whilst greatly enjoying the chance to order each other around.
Read up on European country names in Spanish for additional practice.
- Source: author's own experience