If it were……., then……

Sometimes teaching the past subjunctive and conditional “si clause” can be a boring, tedious proposition.  Here are a few suggestions that worked for me this year with my Spanish IV class.

We had been reviewing the conditional, and we had been working with the poem Instantes.  I chose to ignore the past subjunctive in the poem as we were working with it, and in true teenage style, my students did not question the different verb form (Si pudiera vivir nuevamente mi vida…..).  We worked through the online exercises for the poem from the wonderful site Spanish Language and Culture, and then worked with the poem itself.  Instantes 2012  We watched two videos, one with the poem spoken, and one with the poem projected in writing:

I literally began my work with the past subjunctive with this clip from Fiddler on the Roof

Yes, I started in English! Upon watching it, we talked about the phrase “If I were a rich man”, and about how many people today would say “If I was a rich man”.  I then had the students complete the phrase, “Si yo fuera rico/a….” with three different endings.  They shared the sentences in small groups and I then showed them how easy it is to form the past subjunctive.  They then experimented with “Si pudiera….” and “Si tuviera….

In small groups, I had them work with a few of the prompts from this website :Vuelos de fantasía For the next three days, we listened to a different song each day that used the Si clause construction.  I gave the students the lyrics first, and I had them Color code lyrics Si clauses.  Next, we watched the video, and finally, I had them respond to the video with these si clause prompts for songs.

Since many of my students work with ASP and are familiar with this song, for fun we also looked at “If I had a hammer (Peter, Paul and Mary)” and “Si tuviera un martillo”

The last assignment before our spring break was for the students to create their own “If……then” poem.  I left it completely wide open.  They could choose to write “If I had, then..”, or “If I could, then….”, or “If I were, then…..”.  The only other direction that I gave them was to model the poem on “Instantes”, meaning that there should be a few past subjunctive verbs, with many responses to each of those verbs in the conditional.  The form and shape of the poem was up to them.  I will post some of them when they turn them in.

When the students return from break, I will use this Twiccionario from Zombombazo (Zachary Jones) to review the structure.

What do you use when working with the “Si clauses”?

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6 thoughts on “If it were……., then……

  1. Pingback: Letting a grammatical concept unfold naturally…… | elmundodebirch

  2. I like using the song “Mi Ultimo Dia” by Tercer Cielo. It makes for an interesting comparison because it uses past subjunctive but not conditional. I like making them figure out why.

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