The Best Class Ever

Okay, well “The Best” is always a relative term.

But wow. It was pretty cool.

I’m down to three students now in my Conversational Spanish class. Not a good number for doing various pairing or group activities. One of the students is fairly timid and just taking the class for her job (her employer is also paying for the class.)

She left at the break (midpoint of a two-hour class).

Nice lady, but not into it. The two students who were left have a smidgen of “word nerd” about them, they obviously like and want to learn Spanish and are very willing to stretch out of their comfort zone and venture into new language territory.

We worked on talking about “what time is it?” for a bit, because it is our second-to-last class and I feel like that is something really useful for them to know. We were able to go off on a tangent about three different ways to say “time” in Spanish (hora, vez, tiempo) and the specific meanings and scenarios in which one would use each (I LOVE to get into details like this!) It reminded me of teaching French and having my word nerd students ask me amazingly wonderful tangential questions about the roots of certain words, how they relate to English and Spanish and *BLISS*!!! I am in paradise.

So it was just the three of us, and I suggested (I’m sure there was a gleam in my eye) that we do an exercise that one of the ladies had done in class before, where  they choose one of the photos-cut-out-of-a-magazine-and-laminated-onto-a-card cards and make up a character based on the person(s) in the photo.

In class so far we have learned how to talk about what someone’s name is, their age, their family, what activities they like to do and adjectives to describe their personality. We’ve worked on asking people questions to find out this information.

So the last half hour of the class (and the details of the exercise were entirely their idea!) consisted of these two students randomly choosing a picture and then challenging themselves to come up with details about the person, presenting these details orally as they invented them. Conjugating verbs, remembering adjectives, recalling how to phrase things like “she has to” do a certain activity or “she likes to” do something or other.

My whole job was to occasionally correct them (which they were completely open to, it was fantastic!) as well as to provide the occasional word that they were struggling to remember. Also, I would ask questions about the characters they were inventing, to try to extend the game a bit further, when they seemed unable to generate more raw details on their own.

It occurs to me as I write this that most readers would think this was boring as sh*t. I apologize. I know I’m a total language geek, I freely admit it, embrace it, live it. But this was so damn cool you don’t even understand.

If we could have every class like this, and we could meet a couple times a week, they would be fluent so fast. They were just swimming in the words, splashing around in meaning, engaging their imaginations with their visual perception with their understanding.

It was truly magical.

2 responses to “The Best Class Ever

  1. I love the way you’re describing this! You’re making me want to check out a conversational Spanish class and see if it’s that cool. I could definitely use the easygoing, nonjudgmental flow you describe to practice and become more comfortable. So glad you were able to facilitate that for those students!

    • It was total magic. They were doing it all themselves, I was just like a spellcheck machine that would conjugate the verb correctly or supply the right word when they looked over at me questioningly.

      It was really similar to how I like to teach kids to read, whole-word style. I have my kids read, and when they want to hear a word they point to it and I will say it for them. I think there is some kind of connection made when their brain is holding pure meaning up, trying to match it with a word, and then you supply the word and *bing* it sticks. And they don’t lose their groove by getting off task struggling with one particular word. They keep the rhythm and flow of language, the music of meaning, without getting tripped up on a technicality (because isn’t the sound/spelling of a particular word relatively random, anyway?)

      I would LOVE to have you in my class!!! Wish we could make that happen!

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