My Spanish 2 class is getting ready to read their first novel in the past tense, Fiesta Fatal. (You can see our tentative year curriculum here). Even though I try to casually use some past talking about our summer, our weekend, and talking about novels, we have not really dived into the past too much yet. I think that comes with the mentality that has always been ingrained, stemming from textbooks that Spanish 1 uses present, Spanish 2 uses past and other tenses are reserved for upper levels. Even though I am trying to move away from this, even the most comprehensible input resources tend to follow that pattern.
Before starting the novel I want to make sure that the key past tense vocabulary is introduced. I have learned from experience that front-loading the vocabulary before starting the novel makes reading a much more positive experience. Then we can move quickly through the book without it becoming a drag. There is quite a bit of el imperfecto in particular in the first chapter, including four of the “Super 7” (era, tenía, estaba & quería) that are used a lot. Since I have never formally done special person interviews with this group, I decided to do a twist on my Super 7 Unit, to make it past tense.
Learn how to use High Frequency Verb units in this blog post.
To get in more repetitions of our “descriptive past” that is continuing or repeating, I put together a past tense slide show focusing on interviews about students when they were kids. Since the brain break songs were so popular the first time around in the other classes, I included them as well (but it was much harder to find songs with repetitions of these words!)
My plan is to spend a couple of weeks doing interviews, as well as take a break and do a story asking with the words as well. My plan for assessment is a free write, where they write about their childhood, as well as what they learned about their classmates. You can get a better idea of how I structured the unit the first time in this post & this reflection. I think that next year I may start with this special person unit in Spanish 2, and sprinkle the interviews through the start of the year. This way by the time we start reading a book in the past, these common descriptive past structures are just a normal part of our conversations.
Get all of my El Imperfecto Resources together in this Bundle
But what about the preterite tense in Spanish?
As I mentioned before we have used the preterite or sudden/completed past talking about our summer, our weekend and events in novels. To better focus on it, I also plan to do Martina Bex’s Somos 2 – foundations Unit 1 to help solidify some key preterit as well before starting the novel. For the rest, I just plan to point out endings as they show up. This is what I did last year, and the new endings were no big deal to the students. The pop of grammar of regular endings worked great. I have learned that the past tense output will take a while. I also know (now) that is will take a LONG time before students will be able to accurately narrate using both past tenses. This means I will just keep providing input with the rest of our novels this year (Fiesta Fatal, Felipe Alou & Bianca Nieves) and hope that eventually it is acquired.