It’s game day! We are here in our target language series adding fun speaking activities for Spanish class to our teacher arsenal. I’m so excited share it with you 10 games for Spanish class that will get your students speaking! We’re here today to talk about ways that you can use target language in your class in a way that they won’t even realize what hit them because we’re gonna be playing games y’all.
Why do it if it’s not fun? The most important way that we can get more target language into their heads, is a way that’s fun–what better way to do that with games? So let’s talk about some ideas. How are we gonna make Mondays in Spanish class fun again?
Weekend Chats in Spanish
You can do this Spanish speaking activity with any level – there is no such thing as tense restrictions when you got something as valuable as weekend chats.
All you gotta do is throw a couple of basic phrases on the board that could be answers to “What did you do this weekend?” Teach them what it means and then talk to them about a couple activities. Start with cognates if you’re in level one. I always do “watch Netflix”. They can pick up on things like Netflix, Snapchat, sports, things like brand names and places are also helpful to connect meanings to verbs like ir. Students can pick up on cognates and you’re not asking people to speak at first, you’re asking them to understand what is going on in order to sign off on things like bingo charts or “find someone who”. That can become a game too – after weekend chats start to get repetitive, you can easily turn it into 2 Truths and a Lie…more on that later.
Ways to Expand Weekend Chats in Spanish Class
I’ve had people before write out or draw pictures of what I did over the weekend for weekend chats. This is a great option for level one students. Level two ways that you can do this for weekend chats, is you can give them a version of what you did over the weekend and give it back to you, and see what you had in common over the weekend. You can even do little venn diagrams with this, you can do Pictionary.
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Pictionary in Spanish Class
Which is, by the way, activity number two, Pictionary! you can do this with anything! This is how you instantly make art and drawing a part of your class. The best part about this game is that you provide all the input, so the students in novice levels don’t have the pressure to produce. You can also use as much or as little vocabulary as you want.
Great Dry Erase Markers for Classrooms
Every good teacher has a set of expo markers. You’re going to need choice dry erase markers for this next activity. Check out my favorite dry erase markers here – I got them for half the price of my expos. (I do a mix of both). They don’t write quite as well as EXPO markers, but they do keep longer – most of mine have lasted 2 years. The cheaper price is good for getting a full class set, while the expos are great for writing quality. If you have a large class, I would get the quantity option. If you’re looking to get fewer for more quality, get expos.
You’re also gonna need a good set of whiteboards. You could also use the whiteboards that are in your room but Pictionary, that’s the way to go.
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You can do this a couple of different ways, this is my quick go-to activity, especially if I have like an extra 10 minutes of class that I did not plan for or maybe something is just like trash dumpster fired, it just didn’t work and we just need to do something different. I say, ok scrap that, we’re doing Pictionary. I’ll just describe something to them or I’ll just pick up their vocabulary list of something that we’re working on right then and ask them to draw. They have to know what I’m saying. I get to repeat it a bunch of times and they’ve got to draw it. The more ridiculous your statement, like a sandwich with mustard and dirt, the more fun it is.
This also allows for you to spotcheck exactly what’s going on in class and allows for people to be creative. The fun part with middle and high school is that you can make fun of each others drawings it’s always fun. The worse your own drawing skills, the better- so don’t shy away from this part.
You can also do this in a game form, get people to take a piece of paper and fold it into eight squares and number it and you fire words at them or phrases or ideas and they’ve got to draw it as fast as they can and whoever gets all eight in order, boom it’s a game all of a sudden.
Clip Chats or Movie Talks
Clip chats is when you take something that is a video recording that is silent or well not silent but that doesn’t have any words to it or dialogue. You fill in the dialogue with comprehensible input, it’s so much fun you can do this with commercials, you can do this with short stories or short films and there are so many opportunities for storytelling with this.
What I did most recently is I took a video that was a commercial and I made, I took screenshots of what was going on with about five different important scenes and I described what was going on using high frequency verbs, it was part of my high frequency verbs unit and what students had to do was they had to interpret it and figure out what was going on, and the beauty of it is that I can narrate and just throw input at them with all of these images and they have all these images to support what’s going on in the story.
That way they understand what’s going on, most of the time, what they don’t know they can fill in with the images that they’re seeing and you can take this even further. A way that I take this even further with clip chats and there’s lots of those people do this but my favorite is activity number , which is dialogue scrambles.
I learned this from talking L2 with BVP of Bill Van Patten, look this podcast up if you’re not listening to it yet, the original version is also Tea with BVP and his fabulous co-host and it’s called a dialogue scramble because what you do is you will take a story or a dialogue and you print it out and you cut up each line and scramble it up and what students have to do is they have to put the dialogue in order so you can do it in pairs or you can have them do it individually.
And the beauty of this is that students don’t have to know every word in order to get a lot of meaning. And they pickup new words while they’re doing it. And you get to check each person’s work, you can see instantly who’s engaged and who’s not because everybody’s working with things on their desk. I am a huge fan of manipulatives in like the middle school and high school level. I don’t care what anybody says about it because I get to see who’s working and who’s not. It’s instant gratification for me and students like to work and move with things and no matter what age they’re at I mean, they always love to switch up what’s going on they don’t always like to be writing, who likes to write all the time not, I like to write and I don’t like to write all the time.
And dialogue scrambles are great too because you have to understand the context in order for it to make sense, but you don’t have to understand every word. Brilliant, thank you BVP, thank you. Another great idea that works well with this whole idea too is actually something of my own invention which is activity number five, this is called storyboarding.
I thought this would be a great way for kids to show that they understand the story and be creative so I took a story and I made it into eight blocks and I separated the story out and what students have to do is they have to draw what’s happening in the story as I read it and as it goes long, so they’re storyboarding the story like a little director this really cool and it’s fun and sometimes I do it with my students because now I have.
Game for Spanish Class – Two Truths and A Lie
Another really fun activity that I have for you is scintillating. Two Truths and a Lie. And you’ve probably played this at a really lame either corporate meeting if you were in the corporate world before this, or at Summer Camp, or whatever. But Two Truths and a Lie works beautifully in a classroom because it gets students so into the idea of creating comprehensible language, interpreting comprehensible language and reacting to it.
What they have to do is no matter what you’re working on or what level you’re at they have to write two sentences, that’s true about them and then one sentence that’s a lie.
You can ask them to write whatever they want to, you can make it a total free write. What I did the other day is like I had to teach my level one students how to write age and those of you who teach a romance language know how much struggle that is because it’s like … it’s just something they always struggle with.
So how can I do this with a little bit more interest because it’s difficult every year. I know, I have an idea. So I told them we’re playing Two Truths and a Lie. One of your sentences has to be about your age, let me show you an example.
Two sentences are true, one is a lie. You have to guess and go around the room about which of your friends, which of their sentences is a lie. If you guess which of their sentences is a lie,you to take something from them. So you can use whatever you want like I had points. And I represented that with like big sticky note pads because I have a million of those. You can use tickets, you can use pens, like whatever, pencils whatever you want to use you can just tally marks on the board. But, or you can have people like write on their papers, you know, sometimes people cheat with that. Whatever system you want to use, whoever guesses the most lies wins.
And so the beauty of this is that students have to write something that other people can read, so it has to be pretty correct. It also has to be something that other people understand. And they get so into it. They’re like, naw man, you’re lying. Like, oh I know that’s true about you, or like no way, you don’t have that. It’s great, it’s so much fun. They get so into it, even the class that’s like, really not into stuff, they were into this one.
Spanish Speaking Activity – BLOB
Another really fun one that’s also quick, is something called Blob.
This is an old tactic that I used to use when I had to do icebreakers as an orientation intern in college, but this is really fun. You give them a category and for this I like to do this with vocabulary and you know, sentence structure and whatever we’re working on. And for Blob, what you do is you give them a category and then they have to separate themselves into groups. So if you say, like say you’re working on activities, one of my ??? activities.
You can say, “What do you like to do after school?”
Now your students have to all look at each other and declare their blobs. They’re not allowed to have two of the same blobs. So if somebody says skateboarding and by the way they have to do that in Spanish and somebody says video games and then another person at the back says, video games, then the class loses points because you can’t have two video games. They need to come together and form a blob. So they need to declare it, which means they’re using target language, they need to speak and form blobs.
And then you come around and check (insert Spanish phrasing here) oh look at that, that’s so cool. (insert Spanish phrasing here) It’s such a good opportunity to use lots and lots of target language and students have to communicate with each other, get into groups, figure out who likes what and then they also get to know a little bit about each other. Plus it’s just so fun. You can do this with anything. You can do this with any kind of categories.
Special Person Interviews
This one is an absolute game changer. If you’re not doing this in some form, I highly recommend that you do it. This one is really fun, it’s called Special Person Interviews. Special Person Interviews is something that Bryce Hedstrom taught me. The special person interview is when you interview the students as if they are famous. Find out all the details here:
And you ask them questions that are basic questions about what they’re like. What’s your name? How old are you? What grade are you in? What do you like to do? Who’s in your family? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a girlfriend? What are you into? Do you have a talent? That’s so cool. And like you ask them all these kinds of questions that are specifically about them. What they’re like and their life and they get to tell you all about themselves and it’s so much fun. Number one thing is, I like to go over the questions with them and ways to answer and I also have posters around the room of what the questions are and how to answer them in English. You need to make them super comfortable with this process. Bryce likes to do it like from day one.
I like to wait a little bit but it depends on your style. My friend Jade does it too, with a lot of success. You can watch her interview here with all her ideas for speaking activities:
And it is such a great way to build classroom community even with your shy students. But never force anybody to do this interview that really doesn’t look comfortable with it. Let people warm up to the process, choose your people who are like, “Yes me, pick me. I want to talk about myself all the time.” Pick them first. It’s a lot of fun! Read more on Bryce Hedstrom’s advice for all things world language, including the Special Person Interview, here.
Songs for Spanish Class
Number nine is, duh, why aren’t you listening to songs all the time? Authentic music is by far, one of the best ways to incorporate more target language into your classroom and students love it. They get so into it. They ask for certain artists once you start to play them a lot. They get used to certain styles, they request things, it’s such a great way to build engagement and it’s fun. It’s so much fun and you’ll be able to talk about so much culture with it.
Close listening is one of the best ways to build listening skills too. Close listening just means that when you are playing an authentic song that you omit certain lines of the lyrics as your playing the song and students get to listen for it and fill it in as they go along. And you can do a lot of different activities that build on that skill as well.
Are you ready for the last one? Here it comes. The last one is another personal invention of mine that comes from an old game called, I Love a Cougar who … And you just insert your mascot here, I Love a Falcon who … I love a, I love a ??? who … whatever. So, for this game you put students in a circle. In addition to the circle, they have to bring a placeholder with them. So, pencil case, a shoe, whatever. Kind of like musical chairs. They have to have something in front of them that holds their place in the circle because they’re going to be moving around.
Once they’re standing in the circle. There’s, you start in the center because you need one person to be in the center. And one person in the center is going to say, depending on what level you’re at, I like to do this in the target language because I’m the teacher and I start it off. But you don’t have to expect this from level ones you can do this with level two’s in target language, yada, yada, yada. Point b, someone in the center is going to say something that they like.
I love a cougar who loves pizza and everybody who also loves pizza has to move to a new spot in the circle. It can’t be somewhere that is right next to them. And it can’t be the spot where they already were. Like, they can’t jump out of the circle and then just go right back. So they have to move at least two spots away from where they originally were.
So it gets people moving around the room, it’s a great movement game. Now if they can’t find a spot then it’s kind of like musical chairs, well now they become the person in the middle. Depending on what level you’re at you can make that person say that whole phrase in the target language.
Spanish students need a high degree of comfortability in your classroom in order to do this. It worked great with middle schoolers because they just love to talk and try things. What you can also do is the person can give you the activity and you can shout it out in the target language and people can move around, however you want to do it, but it’s a lot of fun.
The World Language Teacher Toolkit – BONUS Tip!
So there you have it ten bombastic activities for you to do that involve a ton of target language, a ton of movement and a ton of fun you need to do at least three things a week. At least, at least, because they’re going to be moving around every day. If they’re not moving around every day then they’re not learning as well as they need to be. You need to have engagements, you need to have fluidity and need to have fun. Why do it if it’s not fun? Your class already sticks out enough, so make sure you’re doing lots and lots of fun things and activities.
I hope you can steal at least one of these that you could use in your class. This is part of our target language series to help you reach your goals of 90% target language. Head on over to the playlist that has to do with target language experts where you’ll find even more awesome activities to use in your classroom to get you to that coveted 90%.
Speaking of 90% Target Language, Have you ever wished the transition to proficiency were easier to do? Grab the FREE toolkit below to learn the framework for updating your practice to comprehensible input – without all the overwhelm – and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Keep at your important work and have fun with your Spanish students trying out all these fun speaking activities for Spanish class!