SpinTX to the Rescue

During my intermediate Spanish class last Friday we got through the material somewhat faster than I was anticipating.  We were going back over the subjunctive and its different uses (our textbook discusses 6).  Anyway, we were finished with the material with about 15 minutes left to go from our 2-hour class so I had to think fast.  I told my students to go to SpinTX and look up two real-life uses of the subjunctive that illustrate two of the six different uses of the subjunctive that we had discussed, and that they could leave as soon as their group showed me their examples and told me which functions they illustrated.  Needless to say my students jumped right in!  While I watched them work I was very pleased to see them having good discussions about how the subjunctive was being used on the site.  They had absolutely no difficulty in using the site, and each of their identified uses were spot on.  The first group finished after about eight minutes and the last group was almost finished when class officially ended.  I felt that this was a very successful activity at exposing them to the subjunctive and they were happy to have the chance to leave early, so it was a nice win-win.  I will very probably do this again if I’m ever stuck with 15 or so minutes left at the end of a class.

SpinTX in use in an intermediate Spanish class

I have used the SpinTX pedagogical video archive in my intermediate Spanish class three times so far this semester and I thought that I’d share a little about what I did and how it worked out.

The first time we were talking about stereotypes in class.  I selected a video ahead of time that I felt was applicable (clip from the interview with Nancy T.)  and then showed it to my students twice in class.  The first time they watched it without captions and the second time they watched it with captions.  I had them listen for all of the stereotypes mentioned in the video.  They seemed very interested in watching the video and we had a good discussion afterwards.

The next time we used SpinTX the class was divided into groups and each group had to look for a video that illustrated real use of adjectives that change meaning depending whether they are preceded by ser or estar, which we had just covered in class.  Then they had to explain why ser or estar was used with each example that they found.  Every group was able to find something to share within 5 minutes; sharing took another 5 minutes.  They really seemed to like the fact that they were looking at real-life examples.

The third time I had my students search for and explain examples of the pluperfect and the present perfect on SpinTX.  These aren’t tagged yet so I had them search for había/habías/habían/habíamos or he/has/ha/hemos/han respectively and then skim the results for hits.  They had about 10 minutes to find and explain two examples of each compound tense.  These are not the most exciting verb tenses, so up to that point that day class had been pretty lethargic.  But their interest was obviously piqued as they searched SpinTX for the examples, and there was even sporadic laughter as they came accross certain examples.  They worked in groups of 4 and wrote down their sentences and explanations on pieces of paper that they turned in after finishing.  I was impressed with how well they were able to apply what we had covered in class that day to recognize and explain correctly examples of the pluperfect and present perfect so quickly!

One final anecdote.  At one point during one of these activities one of my students noticed that the speaker was using “educado” to mean “educated” rather than “mannered”.  She pointed this out and we had a very good, brief discussion about how there is a “standard” Spanish that we teach in class and many different dialects that vary from this standard in different ways.  The entire class was very interested, I think especially since it was one of their own who had noticed the discrepancy.

As these anecdotes illustrate the use of SpinTX in my intermediate Spanish class has been very easy and successful so far this semester!  I have already planned several more activities involving SpinTX throughout the remainder of the semester.