Spanish Classroom Activity: Teaching the Present Tense Verb Conjugations: Recitation with the Blackboard

    There’s no escaping the six-part conjugation chart, and having students fill-in-the-blank for the missing conjugation–or pronoun–is a good practice tool. But there comes a time when your students must learn to produce the appropriate verb conjugation for a given pronoun without reciting the chart. This Spanish classroom activity nudges your class a step closer to fluency, and also appeals to a variety of learning styles because your students have a chance to see, say, learn and do.

    How To

    Choose about 10 verbs from your vocabulary list and write the infinitive form of each verb on the blackboard. To one side, write a single pronoun: yo, t, el, ella, Ud., nosotros, vosotros, Uds., ellas or ellos. Then work your way down the list, calling on a different student to conjugate the next verb for the given pronoun. You can call on students randomly or work your way down the rows, but make sure everybody gets a chance to give an answer. If a student freezes or draws a blank, let the others help him by shouting out the answer. Or for a fun riff on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” you can let confused students use a “lifeline” and poll the class for the correct conjugation. This keeps the entire class involved, especially in large groups where it can take a while to get to every student.

    Once you feel the class has grasped how to conjugate the pronoun you’re working with, erase it and replace it with a new pronoun. If you’re doing an intensive review session before an exam, you might also move on to a new list of verbs. This activity works well with both non-stem-changing and stem-changing verbs.


    Every student is an individual, and students with different learning styles sometimes fall through the cracks. Pay close attention to how your students take information in, and consider using some of the following variations to get and keep everybody involved in the learning process:

      Appoint a lucky kinesthetic learner to play “scribe,” writing each conjugation on the blackboard as somebody says it; Have the student supplying the answer come up and write the answer him- or herself so everybody else can see it; Divide the students into competing teams; one player from each team takes turns providing the conjugations, and if they make a mistake the other team has a chance to “steal.” Rotate through every player on each team, and if a player gets a set number of answers right in a row–say, five–switch to the other team to give them a chance; Dictation practice: have the entire class write down each conjugated verb as it’s supplied, or write down the conjugated verb in a short sentence. This can be turned in for credit.

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