Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spanish Stories with the Subjunctive

Story-asking with students is beneficial for students in ALL levels. When students help create the details in a story, they become invested in the story and are active listeners and participants.

Es probable que la Sra. Hitz hornee galletas para nosotros.
I wanted to involve my students in creating a story with me that pulled them into the story development and was packed with examples of the subjunctive. The steps for the storyline and following activity is described below.

1. I started with a story plot from *Bryce Hedstrom (see below for info): Person A has two friends; 1 friend wants Person A to go with her to one place and the 2nd friend wants Person A to go with him to a different place. This creates the subjunctive phrase:  "Ana quiere que Marcos vaya a la playa con ella" (Ana wants Marcos to go to the beach with her - Ana wants that Marcos goes to the beach with her).

2. For the story, I asked which student in the class had a problem (but didn't tell them the storyline yet). After we found the student for the "person A" role mentioned above, we decided which two students wanted Person A to go somewhere with him/her and to where s/he wanted to go with Person A.
(For this example, Person A will be Colin, and the two friends will be Isaac and Megan.)

3. Colin needed to decide if he wanted to go away with Isaac or with Megan.  In order to do that, Colin (the character in the story) needed to think of the pros and cons (ventajas=advantages, desventajas=disadvantages) to going away with each of the two friends.

4. The students gave me ideas and suggestions for the pros and cons of the student going with Isaac or with Megan. Each sentence started with "Es posible que" or "Es probable que", which requires the speaker to end the sentence with the subjunctive.
Las ventajas de ir a Disney World con Isaac:
(a) Es probable que ellos se diviertan mucho en los parques de atracciones.
(b) Es posible que Isaac tenga dos "quick passes" y no necesiten esperar en las lineas largas en los parques.

Las desventajas de ir a Disney World con Isaac:
(a) Es posible que haya muchas personas en el parque.
(b) Es probable que la comida en los parques cueste mucho.

5. Students then suggested ideas for the pros and cons for going away with Megan.

6. In our class story, the students voted with which person and to which destination Colin decided to go. 

7. That evening I typed the story and distributed it the next day in class. We read the story together. I, or a student, read a paragraph in Spanish, and then I chose another student to read the same paragraph in English. This helped to ensure that ALL students understood the story completely.

8. I randomly put the students in groups of 3. Each group had to create their own story, following the format from yesterday's story (which they had the copy).  They wrote the introduction and then the pros and cons.

9.Then each group had to illustrate the pros and cons by sketching a person thinking with two thought bubbles. (For each student story there would be 4 sketches with 2 thought bubbles each.)

10. I put the sketches on the board, or for the Spanish 4+ the students drew directly on the board. A student put a letter on each sketch. Then I read the introduction and the pros and cons and students wrote or said which picture matched the pros or cons.

This activity provided a great deal of repetitions of the subjunctive used in context: creating a class story, reading the class story; creating a group story; sketching the group story; listening to the group story and identifying which sketch belonged to the story.

 *The initial part of this storyline is from Bryce Hedstrom's ebook "Expressing Desire: Teaching the Subjunctive #1" in which Bryce explains how to teach the subjunctive with stories. You absolutely must check out Bryce Hedstrom's website for a long list of FREE Spanish stories and resources for language teachers, as well as resources that are reasonably priced.   


Las ventajas de ir al prom con (name)

  1. Es posible que la chica compre cosas en Gucci para llevar al prom.

2. Es posible que la chica lleva un vestido de muchos colores. 

Update on 1/11/16:  Arianne (@dowd124 on Twitter) shared the following photos that her students made when they used the above story format.  Thanks for sharing Arianne!!!



  1. This story ideas was great! It really helped the students use and hear the subjunctive in context. Thanks!

  2. I did this activity today with my Spanish 4s, who are just beginning to learn the present subjunctive. Such a fun, fresh, and engaging approach to tackling a not-so-fun concept. I will continue with the other components as you have presented them at the next class. Thank you for sharing!