High Frequency Vocabulary


“… the most frequent words account for 85 percent of speech.”  p. viii “Given that verbs typically account for 20 percent of all words in a language, this [focusing on just the most frequent verbs] may be a good strategy. Also, a focus on function words may be equally rewarding – 60 percent of speech in English is composed of a mere 50 function words.”  p. viii “…verbs are in general more common in conversation, which tends to express feelings and opinions more than presenting information about objects and processes.”  p. 148 A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish: Core Vocabulary for [...]

By |2018-10-25T12:51:57+00:00October 25th, 2018|Categories: High Frequency Vocabulary, Quote of the Day|0 Comments


A Short Glossary of Insults and Off-Color Street Spanish. Find the whole list here Among some groups, I suppose this vocabulary could be considered high-frequency, but not in polite company. This material was originally published in Conversational Spanish, a textbook I wrote and used in my college classes for almost 20 years.  It is intended to inform adults. I have never taught my upper-level high school students units on cussing in Spanish, despite their ardent pleas over the years. Although I agree that it would be useful for them to be aware of some of the curse words in Spanish, I never [...]

Seminar in Seattle

Did a seminar in Seattle this week (the 5th of 5 this month) for the Institute for Educational Development, a division of the Bureau of Education and Research (BER). 62 enthusiastic attendees. Fabulous group! Saw some old friends and made some new ones. Woven throughout every aspect of the day was the crucial need for relationships and empathy. Talked about what works in the world language classroom to make it a place where acquisition happens joyfully and enthusiastically: • How modern Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory applies to best-practice teaching • The difference between acquisition and learning in world language teaching [...]


Participants in seminars and workshops often ask how beginning students can begin to read independently. Baby steps like this are what works for me. This was an activity that was done as a follow-up to a short story from week 3 of a Spanish 1 class. The bell ringer assignment, called Repasito (little review), was to write five sentences in Spanish about the drawing. All of these sentences were generated by students in four level 1 classes. Most of the sentences were similar in each class. We had told a short story with a similar theme as the drawing:  LA [...]

By |2018-04-13T15:19:18+00:00April 14th, 2018|Categories: High Frequency Vocabulary, Reading, Repasitos|0 Comments


The students in every one of my Spanish 1 classes pleased me immensely the other day by demonstrating they have a grasp on the importance of word frequency. I had mentioned that under the old textbook series I used to follow we would have just begun using verbs like tener (to have) and querer (to want) at this time in the school year (at the end of the third quarter) because they are irregular stem changing verbs. None of the students could believe it. There were outbursts of derisive laughter in each of my 4 level 1 classes. In each [...]


For the last three weeks I have been experimenting with reading for the first 10 minutes of every class. The results are encouraging and I am inclined to keep up the practice. It seems to clam down the chattiness and get kids focused and ready to learn. Those first few minutes of class are so important--prime learning time that needs to be spent wisely. I want them engaging with interesting content and acquiring language during that time because it is more likely to stick. This reading time is starting to become a habit for all of us. It is getting [...]

By |2017-11-20T20:43:11+00:00November 20th, 2017|Categories: Books, Classroom Library, High Frequency Vocabulary, Reading, Weekly Routine|Tags: |0 Comments