Creating an effective learning environment for your Spanish class requires more than just understanding the language and its structures. Because language is a shared social tool, your students will learn Spanish much more effectively when you create a dynamic environment in which they can interact. It is important that you supplement individual and pair practice with activities that involve the whole group.

Verb Ball

Divide your students into two teams. Set up an empty basket at one end of the classroom and have one team form a line at least 10 feet away from the basket. Give this team a box of foam balls. Wads of paper will also suffice. Place the other team at the board. Give this team a verb and have the students take turns conjugating the verb into each of its present-tense forms --- five or six depending on whether you include the "vosotros" form). While they work, the lined-up team takes turns shooting baskets. They receive one point for each basket they make. Stop them when the other team has correctly conjugated the verb. Then reverse the teams and start with a new verb.

Race to the Board

Divide your students into two teams and have them line up with the two students in the front facing the board. Give them a verb to conjugate into a certain form and have two students from opposing teams race to the board and write the correctly conjugated form --- for example, the first-person past tense of "correr." The first student to complete the form correctly wins a point for her team. As a variation on this game for a more advanced group, have the students race to translate a full sentence from English into Spanish. Keep track of points and keep playing until you have cycled through the entire group at least twice.

Barcelona

Barcelona is a competitive game that has students racing to the board, but, unlike other variations of Race to the Board, the students have a relay race. Write the word "Barcelona" vertically on the board in two columns, one on the far left side and one in the center. Line your students up in two teams. When you are ready, have the students take turns running to the board and writing a Spanish word that starts with each letter in the column. The first student may write "bola," for example, and then he passes the marker to the second student and goes to the back of the line. The second student may write "asada," and the game continues until one team has written a word correctly for each letter in the column. Vary the game after two or three rounds by telling the students they can write only nouns, or only adjectives.

¿De Dónde Soy?

Prepare for the activity by writing the Spanish names of two or three dozen countries on slips of paper. Begin by taping one country card to each student's back. Tell the students they are world travelers who have amnesia and can't remember their nationalities. Have them circulate and ask sí/no questions until they have collected enough evidence to make a guess about their nationalities. Be sure they ask only questions which can be answered with "sí" or "no," and do not include question words such as "cómo" or "dónde." Questions may relate to geography, language, culture or climate. For example, "¿Se habla españolen mi país?" is an ideal question which can be answered with "sí" or "no." Give the students new cards to continue guessing different countries as they get the correct answers.