Rejoinders #1

One of the most helpful ideas for my students in last couple of years is encouraging the use of rejoinders. Rejoinders are short sayings that help to keep a conversation going.

We have all heard conversations like this. At first it may seem like an equal conversation, but after listening for a while, you realize that one person is doing most of the talking; one party is doing most of the initiating and directing the conversation while the other person is reacting, but it seems to me that the second person is the one that is actually keeping the conversation going—and with relatively little effort.

We all use rejoinders in our daily lives to passively participate in conversations. Think of a one-sided telephone conversation where one person is doing most of the talking and the second person is just reacting: Yea, I know! You’re kidding! Wow! How about that! Again? You can’t be serious!

When we teach rejoinders to our students, they will have the tools to keep people talking to them so that they can learn more language. It seems to me that encouraging our students to use rejoinders flows perfectly with the philosophy of Comprehensible Input-based teaching. When we teach our kids short, pre-stored phrases to react in different situations, they can passively participate in conversations without having to produce. We start the process in class so they can use the skills later speaking the language out in the world.

Here are some rejoinder categories that I have found helpful:


I think that finding the right rejoinders is a personal thing. I have certain ones that I tend to use all of the time. Everyone will find categories that make sense to them, but once I found a set that works for me and started consciously using rejoinders and teaching them, the Spanish has taken off in my classroom—even in level I classes.

Works for me, Bryce


  1. Candy October 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Hey Bryce, I downloaded your rejoinder sheet from Ben’s site before this school year started, made copies on cardstock (slightly modified for the particular environment at the Christian school where I teach), three-hole punched them, and handed them out to all my 4th-6th graders at the beginning of the year. My colleague did the same with her 7th-9th graders. We found the kids weren’t remembering them, so she decided to assign a couple of rejoinders per week for them to memorize. I stole the idea, but altered it, and assigned one or two rejoinders to each kid. They each now have an individual job of watching for a time to say their rejoinder(s) during our stories. Some were so enthusiastic that they asked permission to learn more (!!) and/or use someone else’s. My favorite so far has been the high school principal’s 6th grade son, who has completely internalized “¡Basta ya!” and uses it at exactly the right time — when he thinks I’ve circled something way too long, and wants me to get on with the story! 🙂 So … thanks for the rejoinders!

    • Bryce Hedstrom October 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      What were some of the modifications that you made to the Rejoinders?
      I like the idea of assigning Rejoinders to individuals. That very thing has been happening somewhat spontaneously in my Spanish i classes–certain kids tend to gravitate towards certain rejoinders and “own” them by saying them all of the time.

  2. Bryce Hedstrom October 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I am just now able to respond to the blog, so please forgive my tardiness here. Hopefully everything will be up and running well by later today.

  3. chill October 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Hey, Bryce! Are French rejoinders permitted here. I’d love to get a list going. This is “Incroyable!”

    • Bryce Hedstrom October 24, 2011 at 5:41 am

      Go right ahead with the French Rejoinders, Carol. the more, the merrier. I am always listening for additional rejoinders that would be valuable in my classes. They just help so much to keep the kids involved and in the TL.

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