Sunday, September 21, 2014

Subjunctive Review - The Fun Way!

How do you review the subjunctive at the beginning of the year without handing out worksheets with lists of verbs, conjugation charts, and rules?  Or better, how do you create a discussion or dialogue that requires the use of the subjunctive that shows how often it is used and how it naturally flows in conversations?

Last week I introduced an activity with my Spanish 5 student (in reality they're Spanish 4 students - see this explanation HERE) that met those requirements.  The activity eventually would lead students to a point to where they needed to respond with sentences that required the subjunctive.  They never saw my plan for the review until the subjunctive appeared. 

We started the activity with the premise of a lady that wanted to find a boyfriend, but was unsuccessful so she decided to go to an online dating service, in our case, a dating service for farmers.  We then listed what she wrote on the form to describe herself on one box on the board and next to that box, listed the true facts about the character.  (A side note: I love working with students that know how to "play the game" and are super creative, even if it means we end up with a character with a wooden leg due to the unfortunate accident she had with a cow, as in the case of Reina in the sketch above.)

Then we continued with an online bio of a man that saw Reina's profile. He filled out information about himself, so we once again made two charts, one of the lies he wrote and one with the truth.

The students were fully engaged in the activity. Don't let anyone convince you that students won't connect to characters that aren't real.  If they help create them and students have freedom to be creative, they will be engaged in the process.  

We continued with the story that these two people decided to meet at a coffee shop and when they saw each other, they immediately began making statements about what the other person had said.  Such as:

No es posible que tenga 22 años. (It's not possible that you're 22 yrs old.)
Dudo que haya vivido en París por dos años. (I doubt that you lived in Paris for 2 yrs.)
No creo que haya asistido Harvard. (I don't believe that you attended Harvard.)

It was interesting to watch the students during the activity.  When they were listing background information on the characters in Spanish they were calling out ideas, often several people talking at the same time. To an observer, it may have looked a bit chaotic, definitely non-linear.  But when I wrote the first sentence that one of the characters said after seeing the other to model what I was asking students to do in the next part of the activity, there was an obvious change. They didn't see the subjunctive coming their way, and boom, there it was. 

At first they were quiet, reaching back into what they had previously learned, and then, ever so slowly but surely, they "recovered" and continued the activity with sentences stating the reactions of the characters.  

Another step in acquisition.
Another example that showed students that they can handle any (grammatical) direction a conversation will take them.   


  1. Gracias por compartir, Señora Hitz.

  2. I used this in my Spanish V class yesterday with GREAT success! The students were wonderfully engaged, and I have never seen them enjoy the subjunctive so much! We started with assigning each group of 2-3 a character. They then composed a list of 10 qualities they are looking for in a partner (Busco un novio que _____, Necesito un novio que ______). Then they created profiles for their characters (as mentioned above) with 10 truths and 10 mentiras that they actually posted on the internet. Today each group will receive the profile from another group and do the subjunctive sentences expressing doubt about the qualities listed online. Finally, the students will plan a date for the two characters, each in a different Spanish-speaking country (as we have been discussing food in this unit). They will plan a menu, then make a plan for the evening saying what they will do when certain events occur. Overall it has grown into a great review of many uses of the subjunctive. Thank you for posting the idea! Love it!!!

    1. That's awesome. Your enthusiasm is coming through your words and I bet your students felt that enthusiasm from you and built upon it.
      Thank you for writing how much your students enjoyed it. This is proof that the subjunctive doesn't have to be boring or difficult. :-)

    2. I love this idea! I am trying to figure out how I could do this in my classroom as well. We have been learning about professions so I was thinking they could each create a job description as well as a character and I could match them up that way. Ideas?

  3. Interesting post to keep improving and learn spanish because at the beggining it's very difficult