Spanish House Vocabulary: How to Actually Make Teaching Simple and Fun
Teaching Spanish Family Vocabulary: Part I - Interpretive Mode
As if teaching Spanish House Vocabulary weren’t already difficult, you also have to worry about those pesky ACTFL modes of communication. Well, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to easily incorporate them while still making learning engaging! In this 3 post series, I’ll provide ways to make teaching Spanish vocabulary simple and fun. To start, here is a brief overview of the modes of communication.
ACTFL Modes of Communication
What are the 3 Modes?
First, the interpretive mode refers to the student’s ability to understand Spanish in both written and spoken form. While kids may not understand every word, they should understand the main ideas and keywords. This is one-way communication, so students must understand the spoken or written text on their own. Additionally, students will use English to demonstrate what they understand in Spanish.
Next, the interpersonal mode of communication is used when speaking to others. Specifically, information is exchanged, and facial expressions and gestures are natural and important. Further, interpersonal communication is spontaneous and unrehearsed, and partner selection is random. This is the mode that measures how well students speak the language and prepares them to naturally interact with native speakers.
Finally, the presentational mode allows students to plan and rehearse what they will write or say. For example, in writing students have time to draft and revise before producing a final product. Likewise, in speaking, students may be able to rehearse and/or record multiple times until they are satisfied with the final product. Kids are able to create presentations that will be shared with the class and others.
To sum it up, it is important to remember the following about the modes of communication when incorporating them into your lessons:
- They must be authentic.
- They should always be engaging.
- Activities should be varied.
- They must be focused on the unit theme.
- And, perhaps most importantly, they should force students to use the target language as much as possible.
How to Teach Spanish House Vocabulary Using the Interpretive Mode
Step #1: Spanish House Vocabulary Practice
First, it’s really important that students have a grasp of the Spanish house vocabulary before diving into any interpretive practice. In fact, there are tons of ways to practice words related to la casa both independently and in pairs/groups. Whether you are in the classroom or still learning remotely, flashcards and task cards are excellent tools.
Flashcards and Task Cards
While they may seem simple, there are so many ways to use printable flashcards, from simple study tools to card games. Alternatively, if your school is still distance learning, or you are a parent looking to expose your child to Spanish, this digital version of Spanish house vocabulary flashcards for Google Drive makes learning the words super easy and fun!
In addition to flashcards, task cards are a great way to expand students’ knowledge of vocabulary and critical thinking. Moreover, they are also great for getting kids speaking as they can be used in pairs, having kids alternate asking partners the question in Spanish and responding. You can even get conversations going a bit further by having students elaborate when they choose an incorrect answer or have the reader use circumlocution to help their partner figure out the current answer.
Another awesome digital resource for Spanish house vocabulary practice is Boom Cards. If you don’t know what they are or how to use them, check out this brief overview. Trust me, kids love them! You can grab my deck featuring la casa here.
Now that kids have either learned or reviewed their Spanish house vocabulary, it’s time to incorporate it with an interpretive activity. A great way to do this is a card sort. Although this is simple, it’s very effective and kids really like it. First, you need to prepare cards with the name of each concept or term (in this case, Spanish house vocabulary). Then you need to make enough sets of cards for groups of 2 or 3 kids to use.
Since I love to make things easier for my fellow Spanish teachers, I have created a FREE set of editable house and furniture cards for you to use!
Once you have your sets of cards printed, instruct the students to sort the cards into groups or matches based on certain rules. For example, it could be rooms usually in the downstairs of a house, or rooms where people might watch t.v. You could even begin with students simply matching the English words with their equivalent Spanish words. The key is to get kids talking in Spanish!
Before they begin, model the type of conversation students should have when trying to match or sort their cards. Finally, as a class discuss the categories or matches that each group made. Have groups explain why they decided to sort their cards a certain way and compare with other groups who may have done it differently.
Finally, you can never go wrong with a fun game of Kahoot! or Quizlet Live. I know my students’ favorite class periods were always the days when we played them, but just be sure they are staying in the target language as much as possible!
Step #2: Games
Next, we all know that kids love games. And when kids love an activity, they are more likely to learn! So here are 3 of my favorite games for practicing Spanish house vocabulary in the interpretive mode:
I have to admit, as a parent I loathe Bingo, but as a teacher I love it! Kids get so into it they hardly realize that they are learning. In order to make Bingo an interpretive activity, it is vital that it not just be you calling out the names, students marking their cards, and ultimately shouting Bingo (or Lotería)!
Instead, a great way to use Bingo is to describe the pictures using the Spanish house vocabulary and having students figure out which picture is being described. For example, “este es el lugar donde la familia come la cena.” Students should then locate the photo of “el comedor.”
In addition to making the game last longer, it is far more beneficial; don’t forget to have the winner announce each winning space out loud (in Spanish, of course)! If you need a fun, no-prep printable Bingo game featuring Spanish house vocabulary, click here to see one now.
Cross the Line If
Another great activity is “Cross the Line If,” which I love because it gets kids up and moving and is great for all levels. Here’s how to play:
First, put down a piece of tape, long rope, string, or ribbon to create “the Line.” Next, have all kids stand on one side of the room. Then instruct students to cross the line if… So, for example, “cruce la línea si tiene 3 dormitorios en su casa.” Any students with 3 bedrooms should then cross the line. Be sure to discuss why they crossed (i.e., did they really understand the command?); you can even dig a little deeper with older kids and ask if they have exactly 3 or at least 3.
After each question is complete, instruct students to return back across the line to the rest of the students before asking another. For older students this is also a great way to have kids “become the teacher” and lead the game.
Yo Tengo Quién Tiene
Finally, kids love the game Yo Tengo Quién Tiene, or “I have, who has” because, let’s face it, kids are competitive. This game is great for practicing Spanish house vocabulary because once you print and cut the cards the first time, it’s something you can grab for a quick activity if you have some extra time at the end of class. Another nice thing about this game is that most kids already know how to play it. Even if they don’t know how kids pick it up very quickly.
First, pass out all of the cards. Typically the card you should start with is marked somehow (for example, in this deck for la casa the first card actually says “FIRST” on it. The reason this is important is that the object is to have each person say what is on their card and circle back to the first person. Thus, if person number 1 has the words “yo tengo” and a picture of a garage, that person will say “yo tengo el garage.”
Then the very last person’s card should say “quién tiene el garaje?” which brings it back to the first card. Make sense? I hope so! Depending on how much time you have, you can time how long it takes from start to finish, and then have students try to beat their time the next round. Kids LOVE this (but fair warning, it can get pretty loud so if it’s nice outside it might be a fun outdoor activity)!
Step #3: Spanish House Vocabulary Listening Activities
Next, one of the best ways to practice Spanish House Vocabulary using interpretive mode is through listening activities.
To begin, try this great activity called Listen For It! First, choose a video with key vocabulary in it (in this case, Spanish house vocabulary). Then create a picture sheet with those words represented. While students are watching the video (be sure to make the length appropriate - a short one is better for younger kids), have them circle or x the words they hear.
Hint: pause the video after a word is said so kids have the time to look on their paper and mark it. If the video continues, they will get stressed out or forget to mark their paper because they are engaged in watching.
Next, since most kids like music, it is a perfect tool for practicing interpretive skills. There are tons of things you can do with music; here are a few that I really like:
To begin, choose a song that is an appropriate length and skill level. Since we are focusing on Spanish house vocabulary, choose a song that includes those words. I love Rockalingua; one of the things that’s really awesome is that it has different levels of the same song.
For this unit, it has both an easy version and a difficult version of “Mi Casa” which is a great song for practicing Spanish house vocabulary. Further, what’s nice is that Rockalingua has the lyrics so all you need to do is create a worksheet with blanks for missing vocabulary that students can fill in as they listen to the song. Don’t be surprised if they start singing along - mine always do! 🙂
EdPuzzle is a fabulous FREE website that allows you to create interpretive listening activities using any video, either one you upload or one you link from sites like YouTube. There are a ton of pre-existing activities that other teachers have made that you can use or you can make your own to fit your students’ needs and abilities if you can’t find what you are looking for.
If you can find a longer song:
- Type up the lyrics on the left side of a paper, and have students summarize each section on the right. Ask several questions (Is the singer sad? What does he wish would happen?) Give the students markers to highlight and color code the lyrics that give evidence for the answers.
- Print the lyrics and cut them apart. The students listen to the song and put them in order while listening. Younger students can do this with picture cards or objects.
- Try Draw, Write, Check: have your students divide a piece of paper into 4 or 6 parts. Give them a phrase to draw for each part. Then, play the song. Each time they hear the phrase they drew, make a tally mark and check numbers after the song.
Step #4: Reading Activities
Finally, there are tons of great reading activities that you can use to reinforce the interpretive mode with Spanish house vocabulary. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Have students read a “listicle” (list + article) in Spanish and then respond to a question (or questions) that you create that pertain to the reading. Try to pick something that students would enjoy. For example, here is one about Fortnite: Los mejores personajes de Fortnite (this site has tons of great ones!) that lists the top 20 characters of Fortnite. In order to demonstrate understanding, you could have students describe who their top 5 and bottom 5 picks would be. Have fun and be creative; your students will definitely be more engaged!
- In addition, articles are a perfect way to bring culture into the classroom! There are tons of articles in Spanish that discuss current events and other aspects of various Spanish-speaking countries. El Imparcial is a fabulous resource with lots of free newspaper articles that you can use. Once you find an appropriate article, create questions for students to respond to after reading to demonstrate their understanding. So for Spanish House Vocabulary, perhaps you could find an article discussing homes or furniture in another country. This activity is also nice because it can be done entirely online (assigned through Google Classroom or another platform) so will work for distance learning as well.
Infographics & Memes
Next, infographics are a great resource for assessing proficiency in the interpretive mode. For instance, the infographic below is from the website of a realtor. Asking students to examine it will not only review various Spanish House Vocabulary, but it will also test their critical thinking skills as they use context clues to respond to a variety of questions that you have prepared.
Finally, memes are a great way to get kids engaged because they are funny, and in a format they can relate to. For a wonderful activity that I have personally used, be sure to check out this post where I detail how to organize a Spanish meme contest in your classroom!
So there you have it! Teaching Spanish House Vocabulary using the interpretive mode can be fun and doesn’t have to be scary! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and would love to hear how you have implemented these or other interpretive lessons into your Spanish classroom! As such, please leave a comment sharing your experience. Finally, stay tuned for my next post which will feature fun and engaging interpersonal lessons!
Until next time,