5 Community Building Ideas for Spanish Class

5 community building ideas spanish class

Why Community Building?

Read any classroom management book and it will often point to the importance of building a strong community within your classroom walls. I’ll be honest – this didn’t always come super easily to me, especially with the pressure to maintain target language use 90% of the time! It felt hard for me to connect with students when many of them were just started to learn to communicate in Spanish. 

Over time, I learned several things. 1) Community building is important to not only classroom management, but also the joy and positivity of your classroom environment. If students want to be there, you’ll want to as well! 2) English breaks to build community are OKAY! and 3) There are ways to build community in Spanish too!

Let’s check out a few of these ideas…

5 ideas community building spanish class

1. Introduce a Partner

This idea can be completed in English or in Spanish as review for returning students. Either provide students with guiding questions or allow them to choose some of their own, and have them interview a partner. Each student interviews one another and then introduces the OTHER person to the rest of the class. Keep the class engaged by having them fill in a seating chart with one fun fact they learn about each new classmate or noting one similarity and one difference they share with each person (these notes can be saved for practicing comparison phrases later!).

Need some question ideas? Check out this introductory interview assignment or these review question cards.

2. Get-to-know-you PQA

PQA stands for personalized questioning and answering. I love using this when introducing a new grammar structure in a more authentic, contextualized way, but to build community you could simply use this as a time filler during the last 5-10 minutes of class the first few weeks of school!

The idea is to ask student(s) questions and follow-up with additional questions to learn more, while providing repeated exposure to certain vocabulary/grammar structures and incorporating student participation as much as possible. For get-to-know-you class discussions, it could look something like this:

—-

Profe: Amelia, ¿qué te gusta hacer?

Amelia: jugar tenis

Profe: Ah, clase, A Amelia le gusta jugar al tenis. ¿Otros estudiantes juegan al tenis? (algunos levantan la mano) ¡Qué bien! Cinco estudiantes en nuestra clase juegan al tenis.

Profe: Amelia, ¿cuándo juegas al tenis? ¿después de la escuela o los fines de semana?

Amelia: los fines de semana

Profe: Muy bien. Amelia juega al tenis los fines de semana. ¿Quién más practica deportes los fines de semana? (algunos levantan la mano) A ver… Sean, ¿qué deporte practicas tú?

Sean: el béisbol

Profe. ¡Genial! Sean practica al béisbol. Alan, ¿qué deporte practica Sean?

Alan: practica al béisbol

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And it goes on! Typically I’ll present a slide with a few starting questions that I’d like to target during the PQA discussion. A few ideas for general get-to-know-you discussions for Spanish class include:

  1. ¿Qué deporte te gusta jugar? – ¿Con quién? ¿Cuándo? ¿Dónde?
  2. ¿Cuál es tu ____ favorito/a? / ¿menos favorito/a?
  3. ¿Adónde te gusta ir/viajar? – ¿Con qué frecuencia? ¿Con quién? ¿Qué haces allí?
  4. ¿Qué restaurante prefieres? – con amigos v. con familia, para el desayuno v. la cena, etc.
  5. ¿Qué haces en tu tiempo libre? – solo v. con amigos v. con familia, durante el año escolar v. durante el verano

3. Class Contract

A class contract is a unique way to build community and student ownership over class rules and expectations. You can place students into groups to come up with ideas or discuss as a full class, taking student input into consideration. Encourage students to focus on what contract “policies” will be support their/their classmates’ learning of Spanish, as that is the goal within your classroom! Post the class contract for all to see year-long. Encourage students and parents to review and agree to the contract as well!

4. Identity Assignments

Identity assignments allow students to share important aspects of their own identity with you and their classmates. My biggest recommendation with this is to have a plan for what students will do the day the assignment is due! Don’t just have students submit it to you – encourage interaction with classmates’ assignments and discussion with one another to further develop that classroom community.

¿QUIÉN SOY YO? Poster Assignment: Students can complete this poster assignment on paper or digitally and will highlight fun facts about themselves. As a follow-up, post discussion questions for students to dig deeper in small groups/pairs. In groups, students can share a few aspects of their choosing from their poster. Set students up in concentric circles where each student in the outer circle presents to one student in the inner circle. After several rotations, switch circles so the other half of the class can present!

IDENTIDAD poster: Check out this free download in the Back-to-School Resource Bundle! Students will make a paper or digital poster and include elements of their identity to share with classmates. Use any of the above ideas for this as well!

5. Estudiante del día

You may have heard of the concept of “persona especial” in which one student shares all sorts of fun facts about themselves using prompting slides and some teacher support to guide them. I love this concept but often didn’t have enough time to fit it in as fully as I would have liked. 

“Estudiante del día” is a simpler, quicker version of this. Have 5 minutes at the end of class? Pick a student to draw questions (popsicle sticks in a cup works just fine!) to answer for the class. You could make slides and include visuals to help students respond, depending on the level as well. Students can respond to 2-3 questions and you can even use it to jumpstart some PQA discussion with the class. 

Doing this regularly, each student may have the opportunity to be “estudiante del día” a couple times throughout the year, helping you and students learn more about one another all year long!

That's a wrap!

There you have it! Five ideas for building classroom community, several of which allow you to continue to use the target language with your students (although breaking into English for the sake of building that community is a-okay in my eyes!). ¡Buena suerte!

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