Teaching a new language using cognates can be an effective and engaging approach, especially when dealing with languages that share a significant amount of vocabulary due to common origins. When introducing cognates to your students, it is helpful to start by creating a list. Here are some tips to consider when incorporating cognates into your class:
1. Find Similar Words: Look for words in the new language that look or sound like words in a language your students already know. These are called “cognates.”
2. Write the word: Something that’s helpful is writing the cognate for students to see the similarities.
3. Start Simple: Begin with basic words that people use a lot. These words are easier to learn and will give your students a strong start.
4. Show the Likeness: When you teach the cognates, point out how they look or sound alike in both languages. This makes it easier to remember them.
5. Use Pictures: Make learning more fun by using pictures. Show the words in both languages with their meanings and pictures that show what they mean.
Playing with Cognates in Spanish Class
This is a game that I use in my classes, and my students love it, so I thought I would share it with the teaching community. In preparation for this game, you will need to print at least 6 sets of the cards, and if you can, laminate them for durability. Review or introduce the concept of cognates before playing the game. I always like to start by talking about what a cognate is. Show your students the image with all the pictures and read them to your students. You can also use the small cards to review or introduce the vocabulary. Ask them if they know about other cognates to share with you. Then, talk about the rules of the game. This game is based on a few games known in the market. There are different versions, but I really wanted and needed one focusing on cognates. I have named this one “Busca.” Discuss the rules with your students.
The main goal of the game is to be the fastest to identify a matching cognate between cards. To get ready for the game, print a few sets, shuffle the cards, and give each student a card. Next, they will need to find a partner in the room. Both should cover their cards and say “1,2,3, ¡busca!” Then, they show the cards to each other and try to find the matching image. The student who finds the image first gets to keep the other student’s card. The student left without a card should get a new one. I’m usually the person passing out the cards. The game continues until you run out of cards, and one student is left with many of them. For a shorter or more challenging game, you can set a specific time limit for each round (e.g., 10 seconds).
Ready to play it in your classes? Click on the picture to download the 36 cards for the game!
Have you ever wondered why your students seem to struggle with retaining the vocabulary you teach them? Or why they sometimes lack interest and motivation when learning new words in your classes? You’re not alone in this struggle. In the exciting world language teaching, making vocabulary come to life can be both an intriguing and achievable challenge. This webinar was hosted and made possible by Klett World Languages. My colleague and friend, Valentina Correa, and I share some tips that have helped us support our students in their language acquisition journey.
In this webinar, we offer practical tools and creative approaches to make vocabulary an integral and exciting part of the language acquisition process. Effective vocabulary teaching goes beyond the simple memorization of words; it’s about arousing curiosity, presenting content that your students can connect with, and promoting communication while respecting their individual process of acquiring the target language. If you’ve felt frustrated due to your students’ lack of retention and motivation, this webinar will provide you with some tools that will assist you in tackling these challenges.
I invite you to relax and enjoy this webinar, which will help you gain new ideas or refresh past ones!
Don’t have time to watch it right now? Click on the picture to save it for later!
After the long summer, it’s likely that our students haven’t had the opportunity to listen to or practice the target language. This four corners game is perfect for the first weeks of school because it serves as a means to rekindle your students’ acquired language skills. The four corners game is a simple game played in a room with four corners. One person stands in the center of the room while the others choose one of the corners to stand in.
The person in the center closes their eyes and counts to a certain number, then calls out one of the corners. Anyone in the called corner is out of the game. The game continues until only one person is left or until players tire of playing. It’s a fun and interactive game that involves movement! I like to change the rule of the game a little but not asking anyone to leave the game.
This time the players in the corner with the called number become “it” and help the original caller in the next round. The original caller can join the group, and one of the newly chosen “its” becomes the new caller for the four corners game. Repeat the process with the new caller counting and calling out a number. This way, all players get to be involved without being eliminated. Additionally, if you have a new student in the language, this can be an approachable method to help them integrate into your class.
Let me save you some time so that you don’t have to create the game from scratch. Click on the picture below to download 12 slides and blank templates to use for this game the next time you see your students!
As language educators, we have a great chance to influence our students’ learning experiences. Our classrooms shouldn’t just be places for teaching; they should be welcoming and encouraging environments that promote teamwork, language growth, and a sense of belonging. This are some tips that might help:
Mindful Classroom Arrangement and Organization: Maintaining a clutter-free and well-organized classroom is crucial for promoting student engagement and collaboration. Minimize distractions and ensure that your students are familiar with the space and know where things are located in the classroom.
Take Advantage of the Power of Visual Support: Visual aids are powerful tools for language development. Through visually appealing displays, we provide our students with accessible language resources that reinforce their learning and support them staying in the target language. You can also empower your students by involving them in the creation and use of these displays! Some ideas for visuals are question words, useful phrases, chants, calendar and more.
Use Visuals to Mark Routines and Moments: Visual aids, such as schedules and routines, play a vital role. For some students, using visuals to support the routines and moments in class gives them a sense of comfort, knowing what will happen next. These tools help them understand the structure of the class, set clear expectations, and reduce anxiety, leading to a more comfortable language learning experience. For example, a specific image or visual can be used for a brain break, and steps to follow, such as writing your name, coloring, cutting out, and more, can be provided in the target language.
Include Diversity in Themes and Books: Our classroom libraries should mirror the diverse cultural backgrounds represented in our student body and beyond! By thoughtfully curating a collection of books that showcase various cultures and perspectives, we help our students forge meaningful connections and develop a stronger sense of identity. If books at the level of your students are hard to find, make sure that you represent your students in the visuals of your classroom. As language teachers, we should not limit ourselves to incorporating topics just from the target language but also from the cultures of our students.
Celebrate Other Languages: Consider labeling classroom items and areas in both the target language and asking your students to help you label things in their home language. Remember that we are in a world language classroom, and this is a way to honor our students’ identities and cultures.
Leave Space to Display Students’ Work: Set aside some blank spaces in the classroom to showcase students’ work. Their creations are far more meaningful and impactful than posters purchased online! By displaying their work, you will not only foster a sense of pride and accomplishment among your students but also create an inspiring and dynamic learning environment.
By incorporating these practical tips we can create dynamic and inclusive language learning environments that empower our students to thrive and succeed in their language journey. Together, we can shape a future where language education fosters understanding, cultural appreciation, and a lifelong love for learning.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working to create more inclusive and considerate expectations for my students, ensuring that everyone’s needs are respected. Additionally, I’ve been mindful not to impose any ableist or overly controlling standards that could negatively impact their well-being. An excellent post by the Neurodivergent Teacher on Facebook provides concrete examples of this. The idea is to keep the expectations simple and avoid language such as “keep your eyes on the teacher” or “sit criss-cross applesauce.” Additionally, I have purposely moved away from using the word “reglas” since it might sound like something imposed. Instead, I use “expectativas,” which is similar and easier for my students to understand.
As a teacher who only interacts with my students once or twice a week, I need to keep things simple. These are our classroom expectations:
To foster a positive and proactive learning environment, I use the Responsive Classroom approach to engage in open discussions about each expectation, encouraging students to share real-life scenarios that illustrate the importance of these guidelines. To reinforce understanding, we model each expectation through role-playing, followed by further discussions. All of this happens in the common language, supported by visuals in the target language. Each expectation is also accompanied by TPR. After introducing each expectation and talking about it in the common language, we transition to and support each of them in the target language. I see the use of the common language to talk about expectations and agreements at the beginning of the year as an investment in classroom community.
Respecto and bondad are words that are significant and need specific examples, so we discuss them and give different examples of how they should look in our class. Additionally, español is included there, but as a teacher of novice learners, I understand that my students won’t have the language to communicate some of their needs most of the time, so we have a signal to mark when we need to use English in class. We simply show a letter “T” for time in the other language, and sometimes students in my first through 3rd-grade class accompany me with the phrase ¿Puedo hablar inglés? This is just to mark a space for the other language in our class.
Furthermore, I believe in the power of classroom agreements made by students and teachers in their respective classes. I take pictures of these agreements and incorporate them into the slides I use for my classes too! By doing so, I emphasize that these agreements apply equally in my class, fostering continuity and reinforcing a sense of community. And since my time with my students is limited, this saves me some time.
Throughout our time together, I keep the expectations displayed on the board, ensuring they remain visible and accessible to students. This way, we can refer back to them whenever necessary, promoting accountability and maintaining a positive learning environment.
Here are some helpful suggestions to reinforce expectations in the target language:
Keep them short and simple.
Frame them in a positive way.
Accompany each of them with a visual.
Use TPR to represent each of them.
Make sure there is a manageable number that your students can remember.
Building a strong classroom community is based on clear expectations and agreements. This fosters collaboration, respect, and values each student’s voice. Taking the time to work on classroom expectations and agreements at the beginning of the year is an investment. It brings many benefits and helps the class throughout the entire year!
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Boston, MA. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.
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