Learn Spanish – How to Teach Primary Spanish

Learn Spanish – How to Teach Primary Spanish
Learn Spanish – How to Teach Primary Spanish 2018-12-11T13:45:33+00:00

Quick Guide

The Primary Spanish Programme is designed to address key issues encountered by schools when delivering the KS2 MFL curriculum.

1. Most KS2 teachers are not MFL specialists. The Primary Spanish programme shifts focus away from topic vocabulary lists to the structures required for ‘practical communication’. This means more progression with less new language for non-specialists to learn.

2. “The focus of study in modern languages will be on practical communication”(NC 2014). A focus on vocabulary lists to learn Spanish such as colours and numbers does not meet the requirement for progression. Primary Spanish focusses on the essential structures required for practical communication.

3. Most Year 7 teachersbeginfrom scratchbecause pupils arrive with such disparatelevels ofMFL competence, which is demotivating for learners.AsPrimary Spanish focusses on the key structures and not topic vocabulary, pupils who have been taught with the programme will avoid repeating already learnt language. They will have the advantage of being able to apply the new language to the structures they have already learnt, leading to accelerated progress.

4. There are many time pressures inKS2.As the focus is on quality not quantity, substantial progress can be made in 25-35 minutes direct teaching per week.

Step by Step Instructions

It is recommended that you watch the 10-minute Quick Guide video. The information included can be found below.

1. Refer to the script and the 3-minute teachers’ video, which provides the new language, pronunciation and how to ensure progression. After the first two lessons the non-specialist will be able to use the scripts with confidence.

2. As you can successfully teach the content in around 25-35 minutes, you will have the flexibility to incorporate practical activities and games to extend the lesson as required.

3. Initially, each lesson can be taught using the corresponding full lesson video, with the teacher following the instructions. Alternatively, in the early stages, the non-specialist teacher may wish to view the video as preparation and then deliver the lesson using the script.

4. While there is no requirement to teach additional topic vocabulary, any extra vocabulary is always beneficial as it can be applied to the communication structures already taught by the programme. For example, if animals are taught, pupils can incorporate this vocabulary into the structures creating statements and questions such: es un león – it’s a lion, es mi perro – it’s my dog, tengo un gato, pero no quiero un perrro – I have a cat, but I want a dog etc…

Additional Guidance

Presenting New Language

There is a tendency to assume that all new language should be taught with visuals, but flashcards will have more impact when used with discretion and when most appropriate. Below are some other highly effective methods to introduce new language.

Create anticipation

“Something very important to learn in any language is to say I want. For Christmas, birthday, dinner… you need to be able to say I want an Xbox, I want a book, I want pizza etc.. And to say I want in Spanish we say…” Lean in and lower your voice as if a secret, “QUIERO … I want is QUIERO.”

Extra Casual

The opposite of above. Prompt pupils at the beginning of the class that you will be casually dropping a new word at some point in the lesson and checking to see who catches it. Use this with something easy to pronounce.

Then, at the appropriate moment: “By the way, the word for something in Spanish is algo“. After 15-20 seconds check to see if anyone can tell you the word for something and make a big deal if anyone did. Do this regularly, always making a fuss of those who catch the new word and you will notice an increase in attentiveness.

In pairs

Some language, say opposites, stick better when taught as a pair. “We’re now going to learn two words together, good and bad, good bad. The Spanish for good bad is bueno malo, bueno malo etc…

“To eat and to drink, comer beber …”

Using a hook

Some language items are easy to remember when presented with an aide memoir which acts as a hook on the learner’s memory. “Bueno means good. Has anyone had the chocolate bar BUENO? It’s called that because it’s goooood …”


Flashcards are useful when presenting related items, e.g. animals, actions etc… However, it is important to vary the usage.

In addition learn Spanish top 3 vocabulary tricks.

Additional Guidance

Practising New Language

There is no right way to do this, the only test is whether all pupils can correctly recall the new language at the end of the lesson. Below are some tried and tested suggestions.


Repetition is very important to establish correct and confident pronunciation, but too much can be boring and kills the pace of the lesson. So, keep it short and varied by limiting how much language is practised at any one time. It helps, if you want to teach, say, four colours, include one which is easy to remember, e.g. blanco – white.

After a round of normal repetition, begin to introduce variety: whisper, loud, fast, slow, just the boys, just the girls, just the pupils with an A in their name etc…

Lightning Flash Cards

After some repetition using flashcards, “I’m going to show you a picture, but lightning fast, so get ready”. Flash one of the cards impossibly fast in front of them and ask them to say what is was in Spanish. The guesses will be good practice. Then flash the picture again, but slower so they can be successful if attentive.

Only repeat if correct

This is a very effective drill as pupils need to be switched on. “Only repeat if I say what’s on the picture”. After a few rounds, increase the fun by trying to catch them out.

Simon Says

Simon says, pretend you’re un gato. Simon says, saltar…”

Heads Down Thumbs Up

All time favourite and a fantastic motivator as a class reward at the end of the lesson. When guessing who has pinched their thumb, pupils identify by the picture the ‘pinchers’ are holding (e.g. un lápiz), not their name.

Silent Learning

For older, Year 5 and Year 6, pupils. This is not in the official repertoire of the MFL teacher, but from twenty years of teaching, it is by far the most effective method. “The sheet in front of you has 10 new words.” Briefly familiarise pupils with the words – it is not necessary to dwell on the pronunciation as this is done subsequently. “You have 5 minutes to learn as many of these as you can. You can choose how you do it, but it must be in silence and by yourself. You are not expected to learn all the words.” Make sure the easier words are at the beginning of the list to ensure adequate differentiation This was used very successfully in a lesson which Ofsted rated Outstanding.

One original way for teachers to learn Spanish is this video.