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Thursday, September 1, 2016 (read 1981 times)

How to Adapt a Spanish Book to Your Spanish Classes

by Esther

How to Adapt a Spanish Book to Your Spanish Classes

I Don't Like the Spanish Book I Have to Use in My Spanish Classes

Spanish teachers normally use specific language learning books in their classes, either because they have chosen them or because they are forced to use them by "the system" they work in. In the second instance, the books are not always the ones we would like or choose and they do not always adapt to our style of teaching.

The problem occurs when we have to use these books because our students have paid for them or expect to use them and it would be unfair not to, and would leave them disappointed. It is also true that language books provide us with a guide so that we can avoid getting lost in the language teaching progression and can ensure our students are making progress. Creating all of our own materials for all of the Spanish courses we teach is simply inviable; it would require an amount of time that we simply do not have, along with an enormous amount of energy and effort. However, it is always a great idea to adapt a language book to our needs and to supplement it with resources and activities that we have created with the specific needs of our students in mind.

Pick, Choose and Redo

It may seem obvious, but that doesn't make it any less important: the key to using a language book is taking advantage of the activities outlined in the book that are not beneficial to our students and changing them into communicative activities that are more effective and fun for our Spanish as a foreign language students.

But... How Do We Do It?

Let's take a look at three examples (although we're sure you'll be able to think of many more, the possibilities are endless!):

  • Reading Activities: If you find a boring reading activity in your book, don't want to make your class read it silently, and reading it aloud doesn't make sense because your students are too advanced, try photocopying the text, cutting it into paragraphs and having your students put them in order in groups. Another option is to give your students only some of the paragraphs so that they have to make up the text to fill in the rest. Students can then check to see whether what they wrote resembles the text in the book or not.

  • Fill in the Gaps Activities: We all hate these types of activities, especially our students. They are boring and ineffective, because they lack context and as a result, many times are hard to understand, even for teachers. And that is precisely the key: add context. These activities can be distributed between pairs of students who can then look for context and create mini-dialogues including the fill in the gap sentences. They can then present them in pairs in front of the class so that at least one example with context for each sentence is given. By seeing and hearing the language used in a real way, it is much more likely that students will learn and retain the information presented.

  • Audio with Very Basic True/False Exercises: Sometimes our language books include listening activities that are not sufficiently developed for teaching purposes or which are accompanied by very basic or boring activities. But we can still use them! Make a list of keywords and put the first letters of each word on the board to see if students can guess the words, and then guess what the audio clip is going to be about based on those keywords. Ask them more interesting questions than those included in the book after listening to the clip. Introduce the sociocultural element to the activity and recreate the context in which the clip would actually take place. Do a role-play with students, having them act out the audio clip in groups: what happened before, what will happen next, etc.

Do you have more ideas? Some other way of adapting boring or ineffective activities? Don't keep them to yourself! Share your ideas in the comments below and help fellow teachers from around the world! 



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