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The importance of establishing a consistent routine in your Spanish class

As we begin a new year of classes at Sonrisas Spanish School, I am reminded of the importance of establishing a consistent routine when teaching elementary Spanish. In general young children thrive with structure and routine. When teaching Spanish to young children, a consistent routine produces many benefits that increase your students’ language acquisition. If you establish a routine and structure for your Spanish class at the beginning of the year, it will not only benefit your students, but it will also make your teaching easier. Some of the benefits of a consistent routine include:

  1. A predictable, comfortable, and “safe” learning environment for your students.
  2. Opportunity for repetitive language structures.
  3. Opportunity for extension of learning with repetitive language structures.

When children are learning a second language they need to be able to take risks and experiment with the language. If children are in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable, they will be more willing to take those risks. Establishing a consistent routine in your class whereby your students can predict what is going to happen next and know what is expected of them in each part of the class, you create a safe and comfortable learning environment in which they can take risks and thrive. An obvious example of this would be to structure your class with the same parts in the same order everyday. This is what we do at Sonrisas. Every lesson we teach has the structure of Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time. But even within these parts of the lesson you can structure the sequence of how you do things so that it is consistent. For example: you might start every Circle Time by taking roll and end it by introducing the book you are going to read. You might start every Art Time by going over the vocabulary of the art supplies and end it by having the students share what they worked on. Regardless of how you do it 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 know what to expect and what is expected of them in each part of your lesson.

One of the most effective ways for your students to acquire some really deep language learning is to have repetitive language structures built into your lesson. Establishing a consistent routine gives you the opportunity to incorporate repetitive language structures within every lesson. For example: you might begin every lesson by taking roll, but then after roll always ask the question, “¿Cuántos niños hay en la clase?” You might sing a song about colors, but then after the song always ask, “¿Dónde está rojo?” Before your art project you might begin passing out the supplies by asking, “¿Quién quiere tijeras, pejadura, etc.?” As you repeat these functional chunks of language throughout the year, it gives your students the opportunity to reach fluency with their comprehension and usage of them.

Once your students are accustomed to the repetitive language structures that you are using in your consistent routine, it is then easy to apply new vocabulary or similar structures to extend their learning. If your students know the question, “¿Cuántos niños hay en la clase?” it is easy to apply the question to other subjects such as la casa—“¿Cuántas puertas hay en tu casa?” or la familia—”¿Cuántas personas hay en tu familia?” If your students know the question, “¿Dónde está rojo?” it is easy for them to comprehend a new question about clothing—”¿Quién lleva rojo?” or “¿Quién lleva una camisa roja?” etc. By extending the repetitive language structures that your students know well from your routine you give them the opportunity to acquire even more functional language.

These are just some of the benefits of having a consistent routine in your elementary Spanish class. Even if you are not a creature of routine (as I am,) I would highly recommend putting the effort towards establishing consistent structure and routine in your class, and the beginning of the year is the time to do it. Buena suerte.

—Brooks Lindner

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