Spanish Vocabulary Acquisition Strategies at Woodland
Learning a new language might feel like a daunting task, but our students are facing their learning head-on, and are on an amazing path to learning the Spanish language, increasing their cultural awareness, and improving their 21st-century skills. Vocabulary acquisition plays an important role in how comfortable our students feel speaking Spanish. Through vocabulary acquisition students grow confident in immersion settings and display comprehension. Even before speaking is fully developed, students show their understanding in so many ways. The Woodland Spanish team works to give students many different opportunities to learn vocabulary throughout a lesson and we would like to showcase some of our best practices. Here is a snapshot of recent vocabulary-enhancing activities. ¡Qué viva el vocabulario!
Kindergarten students are studying clothes. They have been learning vocabulary using different strategies. At the beginning of the unit, students had the opportunity to play with real clothes to assimilate the vocabulary in Spanish. After that, students practiced these vocabulary words playing dress-up dolls with cutouts. Storytelling is a strategy that works very well with students of this age. Students verbalize vocabulary words in the moment when they recognize them in the story. As a final project, kindergarten students will make a doll with fabrics and materials. After their creation, they will explain to the class what kind of clothes they have chosen for their doll.
Up Next: Kindergarten will immerse themselves in the fabulous world of farm animals.
First Grade Spanish
First grade students are working on learning the days of the week and months, as well as continuing to learn the Spanish alphabet. To practice this vocabulary, students have participated in playing games where they need to spell words using the Spanish sound. In case of doubt, they can use the invaluable help of Sr. Oso who will solve the doubt of pronunciation in perfect Spanish (Sr. Oso is an educational toy from Spain that says the sounds of the alphabet in Spanish, as well as some songs and typical sentences in the target language). In addition, students also raced to acknowledge the name of a month in Spanish. Playing bingo successfully continued students’ vocabulary practice. Finally, connecting months in Spanish and English helped students reinforce their new knowledge.
Up Next: First grade students will become chefs and learn about food.
Second Grade Spanish
Second grade students are perfecting their knowledge about the date in Spanish. We began with reviewing the months and days of the week and are now learning to write the numbers. Keyword art is a great way students practice the written forms of numbers without it being tedious or boring. Students also practice writing the date in Spanish on the board on a daily basis, reinforcing their knowledge. The auditory practice of connecting the word heard with the number in its numerical form is also a way in which students practice the new vocabulary.
Up Next: Second grade students will design the house of their dreams, so they must learn to differentiate the rooms and furniture in them.
Third Grade Spanish
Starting in third grade, an efficient and fun way to review the vocabulary learned is by using technology. Kahoot or Gimkit are an example of some of the applications we use to practice vocabulary. Third-grade students are learning about families. Learning with drawings and connecting that drawing with the new vocabulary word helps students create a connection with their own lives. Giving information while drawing also helps to create that connection, since the brain remembers the moment with much more precision. Third grade students are creating their own family trees and will talk to their classmates about their families.
Up Next: Third grade students will learn about time by being our new meteorologists. They will have to describe what the weather is like and what type of clothing is appropriate to wear.
Fourth Grade Spanish
Students in fourth grade are learning how to describe themselves and others. To practice this specific vocabulary, students made a list of words they wanted to learn in Spanish. Then they practiced in a circle saying something nice about the person on their right. Students played games like "Who is Who" and "Guess who is" to practice their vocabulary. As a final project, students will present their photo and describe themselves physically.
Up Next: Fourth grade students will discover things that they love as well as things they don't like. Likes and dislikes in Spanish are always fun! Soon they will be able to express how much they love Spanish! ¡Me encanta el español!
Fifth Grade Spanish
Fifth grade is learning how to express their favorite pastimes in Spanish. As we learn about our favorite activities, what better way than getting on our feet and out of our seats! To facilitate beginning learners toward communicating in real-life situations, we incorporate communicative practice through conversation games. In order to ask and answer questions in Spanish, the whole class circles up in guided interactive practice to use and experience new vocabulary. One student speaks their phrase and tosses the ball to another in the class. All students listen intently to interpret their classmate’s question and must be ready to catch the ball and answer with an original response. Play is continued with an objective of learning and repeating each other’s preferences through interpersonal communication.
Up Next: Students will learn to identify their family members and structure as well as ask and answer questions about each other’s personalities.
Sixth Grade Spanish
Student-generated presentations encourage students to apply new vocabulary to their own lives and extend their thematic knowledge to own and personalize their language learning experience. Inspired by our unit’s animals from around the world, sixth grade students curate slideshows to present their favorite and least favorite animals and share them with the class. Students truly enjoy a chance to incorporate their style and creativity and readily speak in front of the class in Spanish. The presenter uses visuals and text to aid whole class comprehension of current and additional vocabulary. The listeners react and engage in question-and-answer sessions to clarify, reinforce, and extend their own Spanish through interpretive and presentational communication.
Up Next: Sixth grade students will learn to talk about rooms of a house and ask and answer questions to each other about the furniture and objects in their own homes.
Seventh Grade Spanish
Who hasn’t played a good game of charades? Here, students learn a series of logical gestures associated with vocabulary meaning. Muscle memory reminds us of our new vocabulary each time we practice. Students use gestures in games, charade activities, and even “passwords,” or contraseñas, to enter the classroom. Students also created a photo diary comparing and contrasting their daily routines with another one of their peers, and from observing and comparing the routines of Spanish students via video tours. Mounting photos of “a day in the life of,” students captured their daily actions and presented to one another, and solidified their learning of new daily routine vocabulary by making these very personalized flash cards to represent each action that was unique to their own experiences. When students act out and personalize new vocabulary content, deeper paths for memory are created and students become owners of their learning experience. Students then played “Pop up” in competitive teams, where the physical gesture was shown and students would then pop up with the correct image and shout out the associated verb in Spanish, producing at high levels and showing excellent muscle memory from the physical actions. Eventually, memory and mechanics come together for students to feel comfortable and confident in drafting more varied and active texts about themselves and others.
Up Next: As we carry on with actions in our next unit, seventh grade students will begin to explore the historical actions related in Spanish legends. The telling of stories is how we all first began to learn even our first languages, curled up with books before bed and beyond, and the same function is true for storytelling in a second language.
Eighth Grade Spanish
¡Bienvenidos al restaurante! Students learn by doing, and an effective way for learning food vocabulary is through improvised role play as well as rehearsed dialogues in el restaurante. With a bit of good background music, and a nicely set table, students took turns as both the client and the waiter in our Spanish restaurant, ordering from student-made menus. Students practice and internalize vocabulary from the creation of their own menu items and manipulation of play food and food flashcards in a variety of contexts, from the faux supermercado with some active haggling to categorizing the elements into logical dietary categories. Crossing over the experiences of shopping and health provides familiarized background of prior experiences. Furthermore, students solidify vocabulary acquisition manipulating play food as well as food flashcards that can be “served” onto one another’s plates. With a sense of humor and plenty of patience, students were able to review menu items, order, and serve one another a variety of items, preparing them for real world restaurant etiquette and culinary preparations particular to the Spanish-speaking world. Our intrigued student audience kept track of the many dishes and enjoyed themselves at the improvised and crafted creativity of their fellow 8th grade cohorts. To learn the word “fish” in Spanish is one thing, but to remember it clearly when the pescado has been physically flopped with funniness onto your plate is quite another. The authentic experience links to memory, and the absurd authentic experience, even more so.
Up Next: As we move into the third trimester, eighth grade students will be looking at forms of folklore, peeling back another layer of meaning for understanding Puerto Rican and Latin American culture and customs
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