10 April 2015

10 Essential Verbs for Novice Spanish

Complete Verbos Esenciales poster set
available on TeachersPayTeachers.com
Ten essential verbs have made all the difference in my students' confidence and target language communication. My students use these verbs to get their point across in questions for me, collaborations with peers, and reflections for themselves.

With these verbs and whatever vocabulary they remember from past units and a few well-placed (possibly made-up) cognates, they can make themselves understood in SO MANY situations!

Now ten is not THE magic number, though it is A magic number. Leslie Davison has the Big 13 and Amy Lenord worked them into Los Trece Grandes, past and present. I would say that any given student has a firm grasp on at least 7 of them, and we have another grading period to go, so I'm pretty satisfied with keeping the list to 10 (not that other verbs don't sneak in as needed.)

Also, while Sra. Davison was coming from a TPRS focus, my list came from more of a PBL angle: what do students need to express their preferences and to make plans? How can they report their findings from their investigation and solicit feedback? Like Sra. Davison, though, I did opt to post the list in third person singular, addressing plurals and first and second person as they come up (because frankly, they're novices, and sympathetic listeners can parse "yo puede").

I have the list posted in a taped-off section of one of my whiteboards (to signal the college folk who use my classroom to leave them there). I also had each student copy the list--Spanish only--onto a colorful slip of paper to tape into the front of their interactive notebooks (along with slips for accent codes for typing and ruleta descriptors).

I have also been preaching the essential verbs since First Day Fun Stations this semester in Spanish II and working them into TPRS stories and PBL collaboration communiques ever since. Since the IPA format is a whole new ball of wax for this crowd, I did kind of encourage peeking at the list on the writing portions of their assessments too, at least the first six weeks or so.

I started advising a few students who were stuck in Novice Low to make flashcards of the verbos esenciales, and they have all managed to break into Novice Mid according to their IPAs within a couple of weeks. Now that I have the posters made, though, I'm considering making them into flash cards for students to practice without L1 interference, maybe with the word on one side then the image and sentences with the word blanked out on the other? Makes me think of Sra. Matheson and the new Verba game! Hmm...

Is the next word puedamos?
(image from Sky Go)
It would probably also be worth having a Conjugation Hand page in ye olde interactive notebook with each of these verbs too, for purposes of semantic/brain organization.

I also would like to do more with coros and ruletas starters to emphasize them, maybe a little game of Don't Forget the Letras in those awkward 3-minute blocks when computers are booting up, shutting down, or shut down too soon.

But mostly, I need them to keep using these words in context: more questions, more emails, more blog posts, more IPAS, and more conversations.

#3 in the Top 5 posts of 2015

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