One of the first topics that a Spanish I teacher will cover is the alphabet. This is true for an elementary school teacher all the way up to a professor at an Ivy League college. Most instructors will model how the different letters sound and point out the few unique Spanish letters. This is all standard and necessary. Like with any other concept in language learning, the students will retain the material through practice and application. This is where a few good classroom activities can really be beneficial.
After presenting the alphabet and modeling correct pronunciation the instructor needs to get the students using the letters. The first activity I like to do is to have students work in groups of twos spelling their own first and last names out loud to each other. After spelling their names you could also have them spell a few of the simple Spanish nouns that have already been covered like “Hola” or “Gracias”. The point is to choose words that the students are familiar with so they can concentrate on coming up with the Spanish letter and not on how to actually spell it.
The instructor will know when students are ready to move on from that activity. The class will get a little louder and people may start to chat in English. This is fine and it is a sign that the students are relaxing. A language learner performs a lot better in a relaxed mood. When students are enjoying themselves and interacting with others they are much more attentive and in turn are more apt to learn. When I get the students back into their seats I will call on a few students to spell their name out loud. The rest of the class listens and tries to figure out what the name is. Since this activity is done on the first or second day of class most students don’t know their classmate’s names. Next I will have the class say the alphabet by starting with the student in the first seat and going back. Each student will say one letter until the alphabet is done. If it is a small class students will say more than one letter. I’ll usually do this for about five minutes. It is a good exercise in that it gives the more reserved students a chance to speak out loud. Many students are extremely self conscious in a language class. Having to speak in a foreign language in front of the class can be quite daunting. This activity lets students practice without drawing too much attention.
The last thing I will do on the day I present the Spanish alphabet is an activity on listening comprehension. I will tell students to number from one to ten on a piece of paper. I will then slowly spell out ten different words in Spanish. Students will attempt to write the word out. Once we are finished I will ask for volunteers to tell me what words I spelled.
Teaching the alphabet is really important and gives the students a base to work from. There are countless activities that one can use to present and practice the Spanish letter. The teaching tips I have mentioned have worked well for me. Just have fun with it- the students will too.
Author's Personal Experience