by Ann Abbott
Which command did the teacher most likely just give?
a. Levanten la mano.
b. Levanta la mano.
Which follow-up command will produce the loudest result?
When our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students work in schools, we might imagine that their work will come easily to them. After all, school is a very familiar place for them, and they learned how to form commands in their first semester of Spanish.
My experience, however, has shown me that even advanced students often do not have a good handle on how to form commands, especially the usted and ustedes forms. So Comunidades has an entire class period devoted to accurate commands that are appropriate in classroom and office settings--Lección 5: ¿Eres mandón/mandona si usas mandatos?
I recently ran across some on-line English-Spanish flashcards with classroom-related commands. Students can, of course, use the flashcards just to memorize the vocabulary. (Be careful, though. I did find several mistakes throughout these flashcards and other vocabulary categories.) Under the "Flashcard" tab, click on "opción" and "invertir términos" to test Spanish. Then click on the following tabs--Reconocer, Escuchar, Recordar--to do all the related activities. And take a look at all the sets of flashcards they have. There is a lot of variety.
But the flash cards can also be a good vocabulary list around which instructors can build classroom activities.
- TPR. Give the commands in a "Simon Says" activity. Once they know the vocabulary itself, vary this activity by giving ustedes or usted commands; they should only do the command if you gave the ustedes command and do nothing if you used the usted form.
- Choose the appropriate command. Give students a situation and then have them choose the correct command. For example, "Estás por repartir los exámenes a los estudiantes. ¿Qué les dices: 'Vayan a la pizarra' o 'Cierren los libros'?" Once again, if they have mastered the vocabulary itself, have them concentrate on the grammar. For example, "Durante el examen hay una niña que busca las respuestas en su libro. ¿Qué le dices: 'Cierra el libro' o 'Cierren el libro'?"
- Choose the appropriate formality. Students of Spanish in universities may have had very little practice addressing someone with the formal you (Usted) yet need to use that with the adults they encounter during their CSL work. Choose some of the vocabulary items from the flashcards and ask students if they are things you would say to teachers, students, or both. For example: "Repitan, por favor" and "No hablen." To focus on the grammatical form, ask them if the command is for a teacher (Usted) or a student (tú): "Mire" and "Repite."
I'm sure you can come up with even more related activities. Leave a comment to share your ideas about how to help students be effective communicaters in schools.
Answers: a, b