30 July 2013

Ser vs Estar: Target Language Mini-Lesson

If I just push play to start the lesson, I think I can get the flamenco version of "Born This Way"* to teach ser for me. One of my favorite ways of explaining ser came from a student who said you use it for "how you were made." This is slightly closer to how it works than simply calling it "the permanent one," and if I can tie it to a previously embedded earworm, well, my job is almost done, right?

I have been challenged to give a 10-15-minute mini-lesson for the college level that demonstrates the differences between ser and estar. The fact that I was asked to do a verb lesson, rather than, I don't know, a conversation or interpretation lesson, makes me question the priorities reflected in the request, but that's okay. Spun correctly, a ser vs. estar lesson can still be beneficial and--dare I hope--engaging. So here's my plan.

While the Lady Gaga cover is working its magic subconsciously, I'll begin by asking how everyone is doing, doing a little scaffolding on the prior knowledge of estar while warming up the crowd: ¿Cómo estás? ¿Estás bien? Estoy bien bien, ¡gracias!

Step 2: "Necesitan una hoja de papel. ¿No tienes? Está bien, aquí tengo una yo¿Lápiz? ¿Necesitas lápiz? Aquí está uno para ti." Be sure to give one a fancy pen or, say, one of these.

Step 3: (This would be a good time to stop the music, if it hasn't stopped already) Make a T-chart on the board and write ESTAR at the top of one column, indicating that the audience should copiar.

Step 4: Write ¿Cómo estás? and Estoy bien and Aquí está underneath ESTAR.

Step 5: PANIC: ¿Dónde está mi pluma/lápiz favorita? ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está?

Step 6: Collect the favorite writing implement, trading for a regular one with relief: ¡Aquí está! "Absentmindedly" tuck it behind your ear/in your hair--somewhere they can see it.

Step 7: Write ¿Dónde está? under ESTAR, adding "where you are" next to it and "how you feel" next to ¿Cómo estás?, indicating audience must copiar.

Step 8: Read aloud: "How you feel and where you are: always use the verb estar," and have the class repeat. 

Step 9:  Write (cambia) at the bottom of the column, verifying how you feel and where you are do, indeed, change: Dónde estás cambia ¿sí? Un minuto, estás en clase, otro minuto estás en el bar con tus amigos tomando chocomil. Y cómo estás cambia ¿sí? Un minuto estás bien, estás feliz, y otro minuto estás enojado, estás enfadadísimo porque el barman te trajo chocomil en vez de cerveza. HINT: act out the sitting in class, drinking chocomil, happiness, and anger.

Step 10: Start playing and humming the "Born This Way" cover again while you write SER at the top of the other column in the T-chart.

Step 11: Sing this modified chorus softly while rocking out--just a little bit.
Estoy muy bien como estoy,
soy perfecta como soy,
yo voy por buen camino:
yo nací como soy.

Step 12: Start a conversation: Es una buena canción ¿no? Es muy buena. Me gusta mucho. ¿Te gusta Lady Gaga? Pero no es Lady Gaga. Es una cantante española de YouTube. Es de Barcelona. (Maybe draw a little map.)
Step 13: (Stop the song.) Repeat rock-out some: sing chorus louder. 

Step 14: Seek feedback: Es buena ¿no? Sí, sí es buena and write Es buena under SER. ("A copiar.")

Step 15: See if they were paying attention: ¿Es Lady Gaga? No, no es Lady Gaga. ¿Quién es? ¿Es una cantante mexicana?

Step 16: Write ¿Quién es? and Es Lady Gaga (think about it, draw a dramatic line through it) and Es una cantante and Es española.

Step 17: Ask: ¿Es de Madrid? ¿De dónde es? ¿Es de Hickory? (Allow ample opportunities to answer) Ah no, es de Barcelona.

Step 18: Write ¿De dónde es? and Es de Barcelona.  ("A copiar.")

Step 19: Next to ¿Quién es? write "who you are" and next to ¿De dónde es? write "where you're from."

Step 20: Read aloud: "Who you are and where you're from, then use SER, the other one"; have class repeat and then recite the estar rhyme again.

Step 21: Write ("permanente") at the bottom of the SER column, explaining: Nací en [Missouri]: soy de [Missouri]. ESTOY en [North Carolina]: ¿cambia dónde nací? No, no cambia dónde nací: soy de [Missouri]. Soy una persona exótica y guapísima: ¿eso cambia? (Stare hard to ensure the correct answer) NO. NUNCA cambia. Una persona exótica y guapísima es quién SOY.

Step 22: PANIC: ¿Dónde está mi pluma/lápiz favorita? ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está? 

Step 23: Search: ¿Está en mi bolsillo? Take cues from audience: Oh, ¿ES en mi pelo? Oh no, no, ESTA en mi pelo. ¿Por qué "está"? ¿Por qué no "es"?

Step 24: While fielding responses, pull up/distribute copies of the modified chorus lyrics.

Step 25: Singalong! (Si no cantas, cantas SOLO.)

Bonus follow-up: maybe some quickwrites on "who you are" and "where you're from" followed by a quick model conversation and some quick schmoozing with classmates using the responses. Possibly also have feelings, "de ___", nationalities, physical descriptions, "en Canadá," "en mi mano" written on cards they could tack on the SER or ESTAR sides of the board.

*Caution: this is a really cool cover, but it probably wouldn't hurt to edit out threats of "matando un gatito" for not subscribing and suggestions for what to do if you didn't like it. It's just silliness, but it doesn't really advance the lesson at hand.

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