My son and I have been studying Spanish together for about four years now. He has done many lessons on Visual Link Spanish, and we’ve taken a class at a local co-op. I have sat and reviewed grammar and vocabulary with him in game format and as we read picture books together. We practice praying in Spanish. All of the things we’ve learned have prepared us for an inevitable step: getting comfortable putting Spanish words together to build basic sentences.
Building Spanish sentences can be intimidating. To practice building basic Spanish sentences during these months when we’re not doing a lot of more formal school, we made our brief Spanish practice time into a game: Who will make the silliest Spanish sentence today?
When we make our sentences “silly” and make it into a game, it immediately becomes more interesting to my student. Doing a worksheet may not be a looked-forward to assignment, but say “game time,” and I have his cooperation.
A Silly Sentences Spanish Game
To get started, we made some cards with nouns, others with adjectives, and others with verbs. These are words he’s already heard many times in the past. We have been learning Spanish for years!
If we’d just started learning Spanish, we could begin with our limited vocabulary and go from there. To begin, we focus on third person nouns (people and animals, mostly) and verbs conjugated in third person. I also have the infinitive form of the verb, for when we feels comfortable with conjugating ourselves.
Playing the Silly Sentences Spanish Game
We each take a card from each pile: noun, adjective, verb. Then we read aloud the sentence, translate it, and then change it some way to make it even more funny.
As we build these Spanish sentences, my son is practicing the following concepts:
- Vocabulary. This has been years in the building!
- Subject/Adjective agreement (La maestra preocupada or El maestro preocupado). We practiced noun/adjective agreement with a picture book. It is a concept that needs lots of review.
- Conjugation of a verb (I also printed out the verbs already conjugated in third person present tense). We’ve already practice present tense form for regular -ar, -ir, and -er verbs!
Adapting Spanish Sentences
We also have a challenge to “change” the sentence. Since my son has much experience in Spanish, he can do this by practicing any of the following things:
- Adding a noun or pronoun to the subject of the sentence. This changes the adjective’s form and the conjugation of the verb.
- Adding an adjective.
- Adding a direct object to the sentence or a direct object pronoun.
- Adding a prepositional phrase.
In the future, I imagine we can use the same sentence building cards to practice changing things in to the past tense!
Making Spanish Learning Fun
Although he enjoys learning Spanish, my son does not want to practice speaking and listening to Spanish most days.
“It’s not school time!” he’ll wail. “Stop speaking Spanish!”
I won’t say he’s now always eager to make his daily sentence. But, together we have found that it is a quick way to get at least some Spanish practice into our day! And by aiming for the silliest sentences, the changes we make to the sentence are great sentence building practice.