As I began to teach the level 1 activities unit for the 15th time, I opened my Dropbox folder to look at my files. There was my PowerPoint with pictures and the vocabulary word for over twenty different activities that students like and don’t like to do. I’ve updated it by adding real photos instead of clip art, and then photos from Hispanic cultures. Then I stopped. Is this the best way to teach vocabulary? Is this vocabulary in context? Is this fun for me or them? No, no and no!! I remember once hearing a supervisor questioning a lesson plan that said students will learn by watching a PowerPoint.


So I thought about how to fix this. First I need to focus on a function for the day, not vocabulary. I decided to start with talking about sports. Since they are mostly cognates and they already know “I like,” I added that they will say whether they like to WATCH or PLAY each one. Now I have a focus.


Ok. Now how do they see the vocabulary in context? I sent them to They looked around the site and saw the different sports words being used. Also they could go to BBC Mundo or If I didn’t have the iPads for them, I would’ve projected the website and picked a student to click around for the class.


Lastly, they need to do something with the words. I gave them a graph to categorize whether they liked to watch and/or play the sport, or they didn’t like it.


This all worked so nicely! They were actively engaged. THEY were doing the work, not me. I was just walking around, asking questions in Spanish (¿Te gusta mirar…?) and answering questions. Some were trying to read articles. Others were comparing their culture to ours. “They really like soccer, don’t they?”

They made posters on ScrapPad about their favorite sports. Not all of them included “watch” and “play,” but I was impressed that they tried to express what they wanted to say. Now these are hanging in the hallway.