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Thursday, August 01, 2013 (read 807 times)

Identifying and Using Object Pronouns in Spanish I

by Lauris

Teaching Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish

When you’re standing there in front of your class of beginning Spanish students, and you’re thinking about how important it is to teach them the correct form and usage of direct and indirect object pronouns, sometimes you find yourself in a philosophical debate over whether or not these students need to know the specific terminology used for all this stuff. If you’re teaching in a university or a high school, where students are supposed to have at least basic declarative knowledge of what they’re learning, the need for your classes to know grammatical terminology does seem to make sense.

Many other types of groups however may include a wide range of students with different study goals. With these groups, I wonder if Mr. Jan Jansen for example, employed in a bank in Rotterdam, needs to spend extra time perfecting his knowledge of the importance of the Complemento Directo, the sujeto, the Verbos Transitivos, etc. And the answer is quite clear: NO. What our esteemed banker needs is to know how to use the tools of the language. He doesn’t need to know how to explain why each is used.

The Principle of Economizing

We’re going to begin by talking about the importance of the economy of the language, and how most languages tend not to like wasting energy repeating unnecessary information. The importance of pronouns in speech lies in this principle of economizing.

Instead of starting out with a theoretic explanation (a temptation that I must admit I’ve fallen into before, in the distant past) I make my way to the board and write:

Esta mañana he visto a Antonio, he saludado a Antonio y he invitado a Antonio a una cena en casa el viernes por la noche. Antonio me ha dicho que le parece una idea genial y que va a venir con toda seguridad.

When I write this on the board, I ask the class: do you think what I’m saying is clear here? Do you think the text looks alright, or do you think there’s too much of something here, something that’s not needed? At least one student almost inevitably responds: “Aren’t there too many Antonios?”

This is when a smile lights up my face – the most fun part of the lesson is about to begin. We’re preparing to dive head first into the fascinating game of direct and indirect pronouns and their confrontations with the reflexive pronoun which it is often confused with…

The need to eliminate some of these Antonios seems quite clear. All you need at this point is to get your students to identify, in the easiest and clearest way possible, the functions of the direct and the indirect objects and their relationships to their respective pronouns.

We’ll talk more about that next week… See you then!

Keywords: spanish pronouns,object pronouns in spanish,spanish grammar,direct object pronouns spanish,indirect object pronouns spanish


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