As Spanish teachers, we all recognize that the teaching of the subjunctive is an ongoing process….certainly not one that you start and, at some point in time, declare finished. We have been working on the subjunctive for several months, and I’m always looking for different approaches to help my students. A while ago, we had added the WEIRDO approach, which I believe was first promoted by Dr. Lemon. We’ve done several different writing assignments using it. We’ve also utilized several of the listening/writing exercises from Fluency Prof, such as Familia y vacaciones. After several discussions (over a few days) about family, wishes and wants of individual family members, we moved on to childhood memories and fairy tales. We talked about our favorite Disney movies from childhood, and what each of the heroes/heroines want. The next step was to use the song Mi Princesa by Victor Munoz, and a worksheet from the always fabulous Zachary Jones.
The students really liked the song, and we spent considerable time identifying the subjunctive, the triggers, etc. They also thoroughly enjoyed finding the Disney references in the lyrics. The following day, we continued talking about Disney princesses, their stories, and their “wants and desires.” I transitioned into a discussion about what they thought their ideal partner in the future might be like. After that, I provided each student with this paper: Tu pareja ideal subjunctive conv starter The purpose was to force them to use the subjunctive structures correctly, repeatedly, with the hope that such repetition might help to ingrain that structure in their memories. I used this exercise as a type of human bingo activity, where the students were up out of their seats asking their classmates the questions, while trying to get a full card or a bingo (from affirmative answers). After a designated time period (about 7 minutes), we sat down and discussed the results (there were some sentences that should have been difficult to answer affirmatively). This speaking activity then transitioned into a writing activity. Using the WEIRDO structure as our basis for a minimum 6 sentences and a C grade, I had the students decide how many sentences should be a B (8 sentences) and how many for an A (10 sentences). They took the writing part very seriously and were invested in what they were writing about. I’d like to say that their resulting paragraphs were almost error free, but they weren’t. Nonetheless, I believe that this was an effective exercise, one that was relevant for them, and one that certainly reinforced the use of the present subjunctive. The final step of this pursuit of the subjunctive was a small group activity in which they shared their final paragraphs.