Introducing the past tense in Spanish class using high frequency verbs - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Introducing the past tense in Spanish class using high frequency verbs

Inside: Introducing the past tense in Spanish class using high frequency verbs. Introducing the imperfect in Spanish using comprehensible input. 

High Frequency Verbs Unit - Super 7 past tense (imperfect) - el imperfecto
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 summerour 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 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 imperfect 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

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 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 past, these common descriptive past structures are just a normal part of our conversations. **Update - now I will also use this Find Someone Who in the imperfect to review these common phrases asking about childhood as well.  

But what about the preterite?

Update - I now have a preterite Super 7 unit

As I mentioned before we have used the preterite or sudden/completed past talking about our summerour 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 FatalFelipe Alou & Bianca Nieves) and hope that eventually it is acquired. 

How and when do you "introduce" past tense? 

Update! You can get all of my Super 7 Units together here or just a bundle of both past tense units here. 


  1. So I took your fabulous plans and started them with Spanish 2 this week and came up with a brilliant idea (IMHO, lol). For the persona especial interviews, I created a slideshow with each answer on its own slide and am having my students put in photos of them and their family when they were children. I then project the slides when the student is being interviewed. The students LOVE it, even the boys :) They are laughing and sharing memories of themselves as children. Just FYI, I am in a rural, high poverty-low income area so I was concerned about the project but it has turned out pretty fantastic. Thanks for sharing your wonderful resources :)

    1. That is an AMAZING idea!!! How fun to reminisce together!


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top