Routine and Structure in Elementary Spanish
One of the best practices for the Sonrisas elementary Spanish curriculum states, “Establish a consistent routine and structure.” Having a consistent routine and structure for your Spanish class will not only benefit your students, but also make teaching easier.
Students Benefit from Routine and Structure
In general, young learners thrive when they have routine and structure. Essentially, routine and structure help to make a learner feel safe. This in turn helps to put a young learner’s mind in a receptive state for learning. Language acquisition increases when children are able to take risks and experiment with language—and that happens when they are in a safe and comfortable environment.
You can create this environment by establishing a consistent routine and structure. Students can then predict what is going to happen next, and they know what is expected of them. Using repetitive language withing your routine benefits students by getting lots of repetition with vocabulary and phrases. When this happens within a predictable routine, students gain proficiency with language structures, and they can then use those as springboards to learn similar structures.
For example, when you establish the routine of starting each Spanish class with a greeting, your students become accustomed to, and gain fluency with, the greeting that you use each day. Then, after consistently using the same greeting for a period of time, you can change it. Even though the new vocabulary differs from what students have become used to, they will understand that it is a greeting and learn it easily within the established context of the routine.
Routine and Structure Make Teaching Easier
Routine and structure make planning and prep more efficient. You do not have to invent something new for each class. You are able to focus on important elements of teaching elementary Spanish such as using comprehensible input to stay in Spanish, engaging in meaningful communication, and differentiating for learners at different levels of proficiency.
Routine and structure also allow you to find a rhythm and flow with your teaching. This means that you struggle less to teach effectively. It also means that you experience less stress and gain more satisfaction from your teaching efforts.
Regardless of how you choose to establish routine, the important thing is to be consistent. This also has the obvious benefit of increasing the effectiveness of your classroom management. Your students will be less prone to act out if they feel safe and comfortable and know what is expected of them in each part of the lesson.
Suggestions for Establishing Routines Within the Sonrisas Lessons
All of the lessons in Sonrisas Levels I and II provide the consistent structure of Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time. This is your base structure, but you can build on this. Anything that you can make consistent and routine while you teach will be helpful.
It is best to establish your routine at the beginning of the year and communicate your expectations for behavior. But you can start a new routine any time as long as you follow through and do it consistently.
Within the structure of the Sonrisas lessons, you can implement your own routines of how you do and say things. These can include:
- Introduce Roll Call each class by stating, “Vamos a ver quién está aquí.”
- Start every Circle Time by taking roll and end it by introducing the book you are going to read by saying, “Ahora vamos a leer un libro.”
- Start every Art Time by saying, “Ahora vamos a hacer el proyecto de arte.”
- As you get ready for Art Time, you might assign a helper by asking, “¿Quién quiere repartir las tijeras, el papel, etc.?”
- Start every Art Time by reviewing the vocabulary for the art supplies and end it by having students share their work with the class.
- Begin or end every class with the same song.
- Use Spanish consistently for regular classroom tasks. For example: If you close the door each class after greeting your students, you can begin to have one of your students do it by saying, “Juan, cierra la puerta por favor.” You can have a different student do it each session.
The bottom line is that you have many opportunities for establishing routine and structure in your elementary Spanish classes. And when you do this, you not only make your life easier, but you also create a more effective learning environment for your students.