Ríe, llora…starting off Spanish 1 with Celia Cruz

Day 1, Spanish 1…what to do when they know nada, nothing, no Spanish at all? Well, over here we sing 🙂

I love starting out Spanish 1 with the song “Ríe, llora” by Celia Cruz. It’s super catchy, easy to sing and repeats “Ríe” and “Llora” like fifty million times. Here’s how we get started…

Day 1 of school

First, I introduce the words “Ríe” (laugh) and “Llora” (cry) by writing them on the board with their English translations. When I say “Ríe” (and point to the translation on the board) kids laugh. Coach them…if their participation is So-So, try again. Everyone has to participate! Train them early or it will be an uphill battle all year long! If someone is hanging back say, “Whoops! Not everyone is participating, let’s try that one again!”

After a bit of TPR (You say the word, they do the action) introduce a few more words by writing them and their translations on the board. I teach “mucho” and “poco” and TPR away! Ríe mucho, llora mucho, ríe un poco…you get the idea. Look for a kid who is really hamming it up and start asking some questions.

 Remember: go slow, teach to their eyes, stay in bounds and check their comprehension!

The conversation looks like this (and the teacher is pointing to the words and translations on the board as she goes…like seriously, anyone with a pulse who is halfway trying is able to follow along and understand the message!)

Teacher: Clase, ¿Anthony ríe en la clase de español?

Class: Sí

Teacher: Clase, ¿Ríe o ríe mucho en la clase de español?

Clase: MUCHO

Teacher: Sí, Anthony ríe mucho en la clase de español. Anthony, ¿Ríes en la clase de inglés? (Then break into English real quick “Did you hear me say ríeS (add an “s” on the board next to “ríe”) that “s” means “You”…so what does “ríes” mean? Yes, YOU laugh- And that, my friends, is what we call Pop Up Grammar!)

Anthony: No.

Teacher: ¿No ríes en la clase de inglés? Clase, pobre Anthony (Class, What do you think Pobre means? Write it on the board) no ríe in la clase de inglés.  Clase, ¿Llora Anthony en la clase de matemáticas?

Class: Sí

Teacher: Anthony, ¿Lloras (what does that “s” mean on the back?) en la clase de matemáticas?

Anthony nods.

Teacher: ¿Lloras mucho o lloras poco?

Ok, you get the idea…. So, we get our first little mini story on Day 1 of class! Wooo Hooo! Then, we end up class with a little Write and Discuss Action. The teacher writes the story on the board and the students copy onto their paper. (Now some teachers prefer to write and just have the kids watch and absorb the language without copying it down…I don’t know about your little darlings, but mine need help focusing so they’re not poking at their neighbor or drawing pictures on the walls…I can’t trust mine to just sit and absorb)  Then they read what we’ve written, translate, read again, and the teacher makes a big deal about the whole thing: WOW! You’ve only been in Spanish for 90 minutes (I teach on a block, remember) and look! You can read an entire paragraph!! You must have a really amazing teacher 🙂 

Then we end up Day 1 by listening to the the song and kids tally how many times they hear the words “Ríe” and “Llora”. Depending on the time left (and let’s be honest here, how tired I am) I might play a lyrics video and have them tally the words again, this time while they’re listening and reading the lyrics, to see if they get the same number.  Really it doesn’t matter…I just want them to hear the song a bunch of times before I ask them to sing it. And then I send my little darlings on their merry little way and I collapse in exhaustion because teaching is hard word…especially after taking it easy the past 8 weeks!!

Wanna see it?! This was actually the 2nd time I saw this class, but our first “real, full length class” together…that’s why you’ll hear me say, “Do you remember how to say X from last class? ” I was referring to our 1st day when we saw all our classes for 40 minutes.


Day 2:

We start out with the song again, this time I give them a CLOZE activity  to fill in while they’re listening to the song. Now, remember, this is the 2nd Spanish class they’ve taken in their lives…the CLOZE is really really really easy! Like, basically they’re just filling in the words “Ríe” and “Llora”… I want them to feel successful! Then we go over the answers and I use that to start teaching the letter sounds. Care to see a little video? Here you go! Warning: Some CI Purists might not like this…What about the silent period? Forced output?! Oh the horror! But…It’s working for me and my little darlings 🙂  

Now that they know “Ríe” and “Llora”, I introduce ¿Cómo estás? and start teaching some feeling adjectives with my fancy little ¿Cómo estás? slide show. (A great big MERCI to Jacqueline Kandell- here’s the french version: Comment ca va?  I don’t teach these all at once…maybe 3-4 a class period! Don’t overload them with a million and one adjectives in the same day. That’s what Textbook teachers do! Resist the urge!! I use this power point over several class periods. You have been warned. 

Now that we’ve got a few more adjectives, time to start asking some more questions. Pick a kid who’s going to ham it up… could be the same kid as the day before or it could be a different kid.

 Remember: go slow, teach to their eyes, stay in bounds and check their comprehension!

And can you please pretend the conversation below is written in Spanish? I didn’t realize the entire thing is written in English until I went back to proof read it…and… I…am…just…too…tired…to…write…the…whole…stinking…thing….over…

Teacher: Who’s happy today? (Kids raise hands)

Teacher: Who’s VERY happy today? (Look! A new word! Write MUY on the board with it’s translation to keep it in bounds. Point and pause as you say it. Give kids a chance to let it sink in!) (A few kids raise their hands)

Teacher: Who is sad today? (Probably a kid who’s looking for attention will raise their hand…pick a kid who you’re pretty sure isn’t really sad but wants to play the game:)

Teacher: Oh! Class! Poor Anthony! Anthony, are you sad or are you VERY sad?

Anthony (who is totally playing the game now, Thank you , Jesus.): VERY

Teacher: Class, does Anthony cry? Anthony, cry! No, Anthony, cry A LOT. (Teacher coaches Anthony along. It’s hilarious. The class is laughing!)

Teacher: WHY (point to the question word. Let it sink in) is sad? [crickets…no one knows how to answer it…but luckily I’ve already got the answer].

Teacher: Class, Anthony is sad because Edgar is laughing at him. Oh no! Poor Anthony! Edgar laughs at Anthony and the class laughs too! Does Mrs. Chase laugh? No! Mrs Chase does not laugh! Is Mrs. Chase happy? NO! Mrs. Chase is not happy! Class…is Mrs. Chase mad or frustrated? Yes! She is mad! Is she mad at Anthony? No! Is she mad a the class? Yes! Is she mad at Edgar! Yes! Is she mad or is she VERY mad!? YES! She is very mad at Edgar because he laughs at Anthony. And so on…

And so we have our Day 2 story. And so we write it out, and this is what we ended up with:

Day 3:

By Day 3 my little darlings have heard the song “Ríe llora” a bunch of times, so I ask them to try to sing the chorus…and I dedicate the song to Anthony and Edgar. (Pro tip: By referring to a previous story you’re creating an inside joke that everyone is on the inside of! It’s beautiful! It gives those kids who are always left out a place to fit in. And that’s a really special thing!). While we listen to the song,  I ask them to follow along with their finger so that they are pointing to the word as Celia is singing it…I like to know they’re following along and not off in LaLa Land 🙂

Then, I want to talk a bit about Celia Cruz. Here’s a short little Slide Show…it won’t be totally comprehensible to my little darlings on the 3rd day of school….BUT I use this as a training tool. “There will be new words here that you haven’t learned yet…remember to signal me if there’s anything that’s unclear and I’ll give you the English translation.” Make a big deal about it…really thank kids when they signal you that it’s unclear.  (My kiddos punch into an open hand- I like the smacking sound to get my attention!) 

So…that’s how we start the year! That’s not all we do on the first few days… we do a lot of procedures and syllabus stuff and we start Estrella del día Special Person interviews, which I’ll write about in another post on another day.

I hope your school year is off to a fantastic start! Or if you’re one of those lucky ones who is still on Summer Vacation…think of me while you’re at the beach!

Happy New School Year!


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