Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Classroom Activity to Practice Large Numbers in Spanish

What number is written here?
by Ann Abbott

I have blogged here before about how important it is that our Spanish community service learning students know how to say and understand numbers in Spanish.  The problem is, we and they think that they already know how to do that.  But when they have to use large numbers or strings of numbers for a specific purpose--getting down a telephone number, address, ITIN number, etc.--and it is very important that they get it right, students really need additional practice in our classes.

Several years ago, José Miguel Lemus was a TA for "Spanish in the Community" and helped me immensely with the administration of the course and the communication with students and community partners.  Now he is at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Here is an activity about numbers that he suggested, and that I will definitely use in my class when I teach it again:

"En cuanto a los números, he utilizado una dinámica que también me funciona. Hago dos juegos de tarjetas
con números del cero al nueve. Cada estudiante de cada equipo recibe una o más tarjetas, dependiendo del número de estudiantes de la clase. Los estudiantes se ponen de pie y se agrupan para facilitar la velocidad de su respuesta. El profesor dice un número de una lista previamente elaborada (en la que me he asegurado que todos los dígitos serán utilizados por lo menos una vez) y los estudiantes tienen que formar frente al profesor el número indicado. Si por ejemplo el profesor dice “-número ciento cincuenta y nueve”, los estudiantes que tengan las tarjetas con los números 1, 5 y 9, deben formar en orden dicho número y presentarlo ante el profesor. El primer equipo en mostrar correctamente el número indicado, gana un punto. Se repite el ejercicio en número de veces necesario para que todos participen."
Just to check: What is the number written on the sticky note above? 78.00 or 18.00?  (How we write and interpret numbers is also culturally determined.)  Leave your answer in a comment below!


  1. 18! I remember getting used to that in Bilbao. It actually makes much more sense to me now to cross the number 7 and the letter Z. So many things make more sense to me in Spain, in fact....

    If only I could live there always :)

  2. You're right, Jill: 18!
    I hope you'll be able to go back to Spain, travel the world, and just in general keep that sense of adventure alive in your life. It's part of who you are.
    I love looking at cultural differences (including how we write 1, 7 and z!). :)

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