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