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Learning a foreign language is a daunting task for middle school students. Often, the approach to teaching children Spanish focuses on rote memorization and the completion of worksheets. Teaching middle school students Spanish may be more effective if you use a variety of engaging, entertaining and educational activities to help them learn vocabulary and verb tenses. According to Starr Weems De Graffenried, author of "Teach Your Child Spanish Through Play: A Guide and Resource for Parents," the more enjoyable Spanish practice time is, the more likely children will retain what they learn.
Label as many objects as you can. Write the Spanish word for common classroom objects, such as chair, desk, book and pencil sharpener, on index cards. Tape each label to the appropriate item so middle school students see the words often and make the connection between the object and the vocabulary word.
Ask students to draw large pictures of their school or homes and label as many items in the drawings as they can. Provide large pieces of butcher paper and pencils, and encourage students to include as many objects and details as possible. Instruct them to then label objects they drew with the correct Spanish word, suggests Laura Lawless, author of "The Everything Kids' Learning Spanish Book: Fun Exercises to Help You Learn Espanol."
Create pen pal relationships with middle school students. Find some foreign Spanish-speaking families who are willing to have their children write letters back and forth with your students. Encourage the students to write as much of their letter in Spanish as they can, and then have them translate the letters they get back, suggests De Graffenried.
Start a Spanish book club. Read books written in Spanish to your students, suggests De Graffenried, and then have them translate the story. Provide paper and pencils so your students can write their own stories in Spanish. Bind the books so your students can share them with family and friends as well as with their fellow book club members.
Teach students rhymes, songs and chants in Spanish. Practice them together to help students increase their vocabulary and make connections between songs and the world around them.
Encourage students to speak in Spanish as much as they can while in class. Teach them common phrases, such as "please" and "thank you," and common questions, such as "May I use the bathroom?" or "Will you help me?" and require them to always ask the questions in Spanish.
Do not show frustration with middle school students, because it may deter them from wanting to learn Spanish. Praise them and encourage them so they are more motivated to learn.
- "Teach Your Child Spanish Through Play: A Guide and Resource for Parents"; Starr Weems De Graffenried; 2007
- "The Everything Kids' Learning Spanish Book: Fun Exercises to Help You Learn Espanol"; Laura Lawless; 2006
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.