7 authentic activities to increase communication in the TL!

7 authentic activities to increase communication in the TL! 

This week,  I’d like to share a few activities surrounding the structure gustar that helped my students stay in the target language, engage with authentic resources and stimulate ongoing conversation in the class. I implemented the lesson referenced in this post with my Spanish I students, who truly were novice-low at the beginning of the year (I am used to having a novice-mid first year).  Since my students were starting from scratch (pronouncing “que” as “qwe”),  I have had to retrofit my curriculum, to account for the needs of my present class. If you are like me, in need to some quick curriculum overalls, check out previous posts below, otherwise, enjoy the free Gustar activities!

These posts outline ideas, activities maps (most are free) for reshaping the novice- level experience and putting them on track for mastery.

7- Gustar Activities to guarantee fun in the class!
We are well into our school unit, but prior to the unit, my first stop or preferred language structure is the verb gustar, similar to querer, tener and poder, I like to call them, “gateway verbs.”  After learning this verb, conversation skyrocketed to all new heights in my class. I believed the carefully crafted materials helped.  

We practiced discussing likes and dislikes without having had a proper “ introduction” but then the question arose and we dove right in. These seven activities afforded a combination of most learning styles and really pumped up my class. 

1. Activity 1: Rafael Nadal 

Authentic Video Activities for Novice Level Students 

Rafael Nadal: Power Commercial 

 Rafael Nadal: Power Commercial 
Gustar Resource- Video-Listening- Speed dating activity and more!

1. I created a quick blurb about the tennis star so that students were familiar with him. Here is how it all went down: 

  •  First, they read a blurb about the tennis star (in the suite of docs above).
  • After they are introduced to him, I played the video with the audio only. I froze the screen and had them write down the words they heard.
  • Then, I posted the words (in the activity) on the board. Students took another listen and they wrote the words they heard for the second time (I had added some distractor words to get a true test to their discriminative listening skills).
  • Then, I played the video and they were able to confirm. They then spoke about this likes and dislikes. Since the words flash across the screen, they were able to make an immediate connection.

Activity 2-6: María Fernanda, Video and Activities

Click the link below for her Youtube Video 

María una niña colombiana 

Click this link for free resources: Gustar Resource- Video-Listening- Speed dating activity and more!

I really liked this short video of a Colombian girl who talks about her likes and dislikes. Just like the first video, they listened and jotted down what they heard. 

I created 4 activities to accompany this video. They are in the above-referenced suite of documents.

  • Basic question activity. Students listen once and then circle the correct answer (name, age, etc).
  • Students listen again and then check off the things she likes and likes to do (list provided)
  • Write sentences using the structure
  • Extension activity. I gave them several options and they had to choose which event or class María would like or like to attend based on what she said in the video. Students are given a stem sentence/template for citing visual evidence.

Speed Dating: Multiple forms activity (included in Free Gustar Resource Suite)

I gave students a 16 grid interview chart containing questions related to gustar and school.  First, we went over what each verb meant, for my nervous Nellies. They had this Quizlet set to study before hand because we are in our La educación, la tecnología y los desafíos globales Unit.  They went around, interviewed all 16 students and then they had to report out using the third person of the verb who likes what (this exercise is included as well).  Those who were up for a challenge used the plural forms of the verb Gustar. The reporting sheet is included as well. This was very energizing. 


Looking for classroom novels or stories that are compelling, creative and crazy! Check o out La clase de confesiones, where everyone has a confessiones, even the teacher!

Reading: La clase de confesiones

 Click here for the story: La clase de confesiones  or order it on Amazon by clicking the link below: 


Now available to order at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pIu4VS.   Let the confessions begin!

Carlos hates his English class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays ecropped-clase-de-confesiones.jpgyes on Jessica. Her presence is both distracting and motivating. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up” in class. A simple writing assignment allows Carlos the creativity, which he has never had before in this class, and is a break from the teacher’s lecture teaching style. But the assignment is turning out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. From the nosy teacher inadvertently trying to help him “to get his beloved’s attention” to one of the most embarrassing things that have every happens to him, he sees that all is not lost.  This story proves that No hay mal del que por bien no venga.


“Si juegas con fuego, te vas a quemar;” Camilo learns the hard way that he can’t have his cake, and eat it too! This novel will engage your students as they discover that some secrets, should not come out the closet!

El Muerto en el Armario- Skeletons in the Closet

Target structures: Present/Past Subjunctive

¡Ojalá que lo disfrutes!

Segunda Parte: Damage Control  

El muerto cover- closet door

The installment part of the story “Las apariencias”  ups the stakes, Liliana and Camilo. Their little secret is out: and there will be consequences. Through a series of clever maneuvers, they are still able to evade the truth; but the time is running out. A very close encounter with Juan, that will put students “pelos de punta” builds suspense as our friend Liliana is hiding the closet. Not only does Juan have Camilo’s cell phone, that was left at school, but he also has his contraseña.  The interaction between Juan and Camilo heightens senses as Juan revealed that he has read some of those steamy (nothing inappropriate) messages.  Liliana, who is mired “frenemy” behavior, adds to her personal drama when she discovers a secret, belonging to one of Camilo’s parents. The second installment is chock full of confessions, secrets and mysterious people that will inevitably be at the center book dramatic close, and then dramatic open of “Las sombras.”  How will Camilo’s parents handle her knowing sensitive information? Will Juan find out she is a traitor? How will Salomé exact revenge… find out in part 2! 

Interested in doing this a fun class novel read? No problem, download the Free Teacher’s Manual.

Click here for the first installment of the story

El Muerto en el Armario- Segunda Parte 

Las apariencias engañan: where the drama begins!


I was thrilled by the concept of Novelas por Entregas such as those you read in Vanidades Magazine. I took a Hispanic American Literature class years ago and learned that authors in the 19th century published chapters of their work prior to publishing a novel.

Inspired by this idea, I created this series for my Spanish IV class. I started by trying to write a simple story that would include the subjunctive. As an on-the-go teacher, it was virtually impossible for me to curate materials (that included both vocabulary and grammar) and control for many other variables, so I create my own. It started out as one story and now it is a full-blown series. After the first chapter, El Psicólogo (the original name of the cuento) students were asking for more. I started writing during my weekends to keep up with the demand. Now, I am working on the last installment, “Las sombras” which could stand alone as it’s own novel or 2 part series. These stories were fun to read as class, as students were freaking out as the plot twists developed- there are some unexpected turns with the first one and everyone had to go back to read the chapter to see the twist. This was exciting as a writer, but even more thrilling as a teacher!

The story starts with a group of close friends who have some pretty deep secrets. The main character Salomé (which students kept calling Salami- so irritating!) is going through a mala racha. With family problems, slipping grades and an ever-so-distant boyfriend, she begins to suspect the worst.  Her best friend helps her to discover that her goody-two-shoe boyfriend has some serious skeletons in the closet; this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The story is dialogue-based is replete with phrases that help students to practice the subjunctive and authentic expressions. No worries about teaching vocabulary,  most of the expressions and vocabulary are included in the footnote! I am working on a glossary, but am also in the process of publishing my limited series books first such as La clase de confesiones, La bella mentira y Casi me mata el celular. The glossary and then print version of this series should be ready soon. Both ebooks are one TPT.  My students did not miss a beat with the vocabulary accessible to them. Click here for the sample. 


This story may be best suited for Spanish 3 and above. There are a few kissing scenes, romantic talk and threats such as ” Me las vas a pagar, te lo juro.” There is some back-stabbing, betrayal, espionage and eventually a mysterious murder involved. I was surprised that the boys in my class rivaled the girls in their interest in the storyline.

Click here for the first installment of the story

Enjoy, both books have great reviews!