A Classroom Activity for Teaching Present Tense Verb Conjugations in Spanish: Word Games
- Break the students into groups of three or four. Each student will need a blank sheet of paper.
- Ask each student to write down six verbs they want more practice with on their personal sheet of paper. They should focus on the current chapter's vocabulary, but you can allow them to draw from past chapters if you like.
- Have the students write all the present tense forms of each verb on the same sheet of paper, scattered randomly around the page. They should write the appropriate pronoun before each conjugated verb, and circle each pronoun/conjugated verb pairing to help keep them straight. So a student who wants more practice with the verb hablar would write yo hablo, tú hablas, ella habla, nosotros hablamos, and ellos hablan. (Many Spanish classes exclude or at least de-emphasize the vosotros form, although you may certainly choose to include it.) If a student is stumped for a certain conjugation, it's okay for her to look it up at this stage.
Verbs in Action
- Have each group elect a "leader." The leader selects one of the other students' papers and reads it over, familiarizing himself with the verb conjugations. The papers not in use should be turned facedown.
- The leader places the in-use paper faceup on the table and calls out the English translation for one of the verb conjugations listed. The first person to point to the Spanish translation on the paper wins a point; the leader keeps track of points. So if the leader calls out "she talks," the first student to point at ella habla gets a point. The first competitor to 10 points becomes the new group leader, and selects one of the other students' papers for the next round. This way everybody gets a chance to be leader and to practice.
This activity can be a lot of fun for students from middle school to college; it wakes the class up and gives them a chance to interact and review problem points in their vocabulary. Make sure to circulate through class, helping clear up points of confusion where necessary, and collect the vocabulary sheets before class ends. They're your "cheat sheets" for which verbs you should include in the next pop quiz or in-class exam.
With that being said, make sure you alternate activities like this one--which builds the basic, necessary skill of conjugation but doesn't use the words in a conversational context--with conversation-based activities, like playing guessing games in class.