This is a winner story for early level I language learners. You can teach it in week 2 or 3, if you teach the core vocabulary with classical Total Physical Response.

It is in Spanish: LA CHICA QUIERE CAFÉ Outline

And French: La Fille veut un cafe  Thanks to Jennifer Washer for the translation.

And in Latin: Puella Cafeam Vult. Thanks to Emma Dempewolf for the translation.

Here is a preview of the teacher guide on teaching this lesson in Spanish: LA CHICA QUIERE CAFE Preview

This is a story using high-frequency verbs that was modeled for a new teacher observing my class. I wanted to show her that students could learn a story very early in the year and I wrote down the explanations I gave to her in our conversations afterwards. The super simple approach worked so well I used it again and again, adding to it and perfecting parts of it as it was re-told. The basic story is this:

There is a boy. The boy has coffee. There is a girl. The girl wants coffee.

The girl gives the boy (something). The boy gives the girl the coffee.

You can make it unique to your class and give your students more buy-in. The complete lesson, with comments and instructions on how to teach it, plus English translations, is available on this website.  Buy it here.




La Leyenda de la Llorona Embedded Reading is available for purchase.

La Llorona Silouhette

“I just wanted to express my gratitude to Bryce and his La leyenda de la Llorona. This week I gave my students two exams.  One was the state exam where they had to write a story.  Many of my Spanish One students wrote out the story of La Llorona.  The vocabulary in that story is much higher than I had ever encountered in a Spanish One class and I was afraid that it was too high for my Spanish One students; however after seeing their writing and language after completion of the story and activities I couldn’t be prouder. They then had to do a five minute presentation of them talking to the class and talking to me afterwards about their story.  Many of them chose La Llorona again.  They were spot on and many of them even picked up the words aside of the intended structures. I then asked my students about that story and why so many had chosen it.  I got the same response: this story just stood out to them. They loved that it was a legend as opposed to a class story and it was the only one that I had retold embedded style more than five times. Bryce has added activities to go with each telling of the story and each one helped the students to acquire the story and use the language outside of the story. I could not be happier with this story and the activities that he included. I am definitely using it again next year and from then on.”

—Nancy Wallace


“What I love about your La Llorona project is that it gives a teacher a blueprint of how to work with a story. Your work helped me understand a lot better how to put some things together.”

Michele Whaley, developer of Embedded Reading with Laurie Clarcq

Fat Cat Gray Black Tracing for Small Pictures  THE GIRL AND THE CAT
This is a whimsical story for novice language classes that uses high frequency vocabulary. It deals with coming-of-age issues and also has elements of other disciplines, including numbers, built in to it. The nature of the story requires repetition in order for students to get the final question. The story and questions are in both Spanish and English and in the present and past tenses.




Here is an idea that will work if your curriculum demands you explicitly teach direct object pronouns: tell a story that requires DOP’s. Here’s the outline of one that will work: Somebody sees something that another person doesn’t and they both get frustrated. It would be even better and funnier to act out in class if the supposed viewer was just making it up as a dodge for something else. A dodge like this actually happened my family when I was a kid:

One summer day when I was a child, we were driving in the mountains of Colorado, and my mom had to go. There were no facilities for miles. So, my dad pulled the car over and told us kids to create a diversion while he served as the lookout. My brothers and I were to act as if we saw some wildlife, like bighorn sheep, on the mountain on the other side of the road, while our mother snuck off in the opposite direction. We were to distract passersby, so that no one would notice mom in the nearby bushes.

 But there was a problem: We were such convincing and enthusiastic actors that cars started pulling over. People began piling out to see the imaginary bighorns on the mountainside. We kept pointing and talking and pretending that the magnificent animals were “right there.” More cars stopped to see the what was going on, and even though they were all looking in the other direction, mom couldn’t get enough privacy, so we all had to get back in the car, leaving the crowd behind gazing at the non-existent wildlife, as we drove off to find a better spot for our long-suffering mother. We were all laughing so hard that she almost had an accident right there in the car.

Download the whole lesson here: Observations and Recommendations.

This is a joke/story in Spanish (& in English on the second page) that my kids liked. More and more, I like telling jokes that impact students at multiple levels. This one is funny and students can relate to it, because it addresses the impostor syndrome, that nagging feeling that we might just be faking our way through life. Amy Cuddy addresses this impostor issue in her book Presence. At least half of all people report feeling this way and many of your students will be able to relate.


Boy with Book

El secreto de hablar con las chicas
Here is a story for Spanish 1-3 about a boy who is popular with the girls by always responding with a simple “I understand.”  I offered it as a service to the guys in my class and it went viral in the school. Kids that were not even in the class, kids I didn’t even know, kept coming up to offer their opinions for or against the premise. I of course responded to all with “I understand.” Works like a dream, even with difficult people–especially with difficult people. Try it and see if it doesn’t work for you too.


Toad Brown Cowboy StyleThis is a Spanish 2 story that grew over a period of two weeks: EL AMIGO ESPECIAL. The girl in the story is a good-natured student in a Spanish 2 class that played along, and with whom the other students had fun giving ideas. It is about her special friend, a toad, inspired by the stuffed cane toad from Guatemala in my classroom.



Tortoise Smiling

IHare love Aesop’s story of The Tortoise and The Hare. I have always considered myself to be a tortoise in some ways and I want to encourage others to keep at it too. This version of the story is written as a Spanish embedded reading and includes color illustrations.  It is now expanded an available for purchase. There is also a teacher guide to help you teach the story and English embedded readings. See the Products Page for a sample and to get it for your students. We’re all in this together. Keep at the race, mis amigos tortugas.

Para que tenga Subjunctive  Here’s an activity for level 3 or 4. Aristotle claimed that we ultimately do everything for just one reason: to be happy. You can use this activity to test that assumption on a personal level with your students and get them to acquire the subjunctive trigger of “para que…” at the same time. Insight and acquisition at the same time. Nice.