NOTE:  This is part 5 of an ongoing series of posts modeling and explaining how to focus on the present subjunctive with a story-based approach and compelling, comprehensible input in a Spanish 3 class.


Reading this transcript of the story it may seem overly repetitive, but it is precisely this kind of repeated exposure, presented in a meaningful and engaging way, that will give our students a feel for how the subjunctive is used.  They need more than rules.  Students cannot memorize a language; they need to develop a feeling of correctness about when to use the subjunctive.

Once again we are stopping frequently to ask “What does quiere que vaya

[wants him to go] mean?” and “What did I just say?”  We also contrast this target structure with previous structures by tossing in “What does quiere ir’ [wants to go] mean?’ whenever it comes up.

Especially in these early stages, we want to be sure that they get the difference in meaning.  In English those two phrases sound similar, but in Spanish they require different verb usage. These comprehension check moments are the only times we are using English in the class.  The use of the target language in a lesson like this is well above 95%.

Also, when you are questioning, beware of falling into a predictable pattern.  It is very easy to ask two “yes/no” questions followed by a “why?” question time after time.  A colleague observed that this was my pattern for questioning.  That keen feedback helped me immensely, and I have worked on varying my question pattern ever since.  If you do not mix it up, the students will eventually quit thinking and just answer according to the pattern.