Things your Spanish teacher never taught you: Giving commands!


When I was in high school Spanish, I remember always being frustrated by forming commands. It seems confusing that there were so many different conjugations just to say “Sit down” or “Talk!” I would just avoid ever forming them and just use tener + que + verb (tienes que sentarte) instead.

A few years ago, I really started studying them and made myself learn them and practice them! Here are some silly tips about forming commands that might help you remember them better. This is just for regular conjugations, not the irregulars!

  1. Informal Affirmative Tú Commands – This means you want someone to do something. You would use these with students or friends. Since you use the tú form when talking to friends, it is usually a easy conversation to have- just like forming the command!
  • Just think about the tú form and drop the -s
    • hablas- habla
    • comes- come
    • caminas – camina

Easy peasy, just like talking to friends!

2. Formal Affirmative Usted Commands- This would be a command given to a parent or another older teacher or someone you are not close to or want to be polite to. These conversations tend to be harder or a little more stressful. Just like forming the command takes one extra step!

  • Think about the tú form command, drop the s, but change the ending to the opposite (a to ee to a) or the present subjunctive if you want to be fancy
    • hablas- hablae- hable
    • comes- comea- coma
    • caminas- caminae- camine

One extra step, but not too bad!

These are the first two basic commands I thought I would share with you. You would use these when talking to one person, not a group. So, when you forget how to form a command when talking to someone, think easy peasy when talking to friends and just drop the -s and when you are using usted, just do one extra step and change the ending to the opposite.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any tips you like to use when speaking Spanish!


Back to School: Fun ELL reading and writing game!

I played this game with a bunch of small group friends last night and the whole time I was thinking that it would be an awesome game for ELL students to practice their reading and writing skills as well as vocabulary. I think it would be especially fun for a 1st day of school ice-breaker/get to know each other kind of game!

Materials you will need: 

  • small pieces of scratch paper (if there are 5 students playing, each student will get 5 pieces of paper, 6 students 6 pieces, etc. )
  • pencils

I would quickly prep the paper before hand and have it ready for the students. The example I will demonstrate today will be as if I was playing with 3 students so I will 4 pieces of paper and each student will have 4 pieces of paper as well.


  1. Tell the students to either draw a detailed picture or write a sentence with a lot of details on their paper. Give them around a minute to draw/write their sentence. In this example, I will start with a sentence. Once they have their sentence, they will pass their stack to the right.


    This is the sentence I came up with, the more detailed the better. If they just write a word, not too much would change!

     2. The next person will read the sentence and then draw a picture based on the            sentence.  Each round can last one minute so it is kind of fast and fun.


This is the picture that accompanied the sentence above drawn by the next person.

      3. The process continues so the student would now pass the picture they drew to the           next person and the next person would write a sentence based on the picture.  Eventually, it gets back to the original writer and then the game is over.


The next person interpreted the picture above as this so they wrote what they saw.


This was the final picture drawn based on the sentence! This is very different from the first sentence.

As you can see, this game is kind of like telephone but with drawing, reading, and writing. It is hilarious at the end when the students get their stack back and see how their original sentence has changed through the other student’s interpretations of the sentences and drawings. I plan on playing this the first day I have my groups to get to know their personalities and little bit and to get a very informal writing assessment.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you would play this with your students!

My ELL Resource Space


My ELL corner

Depending on what ELL teacher you talk to in what district, you will get a varied response as to what kind of room/space/office they have to service the students. I have friends who share a room with up to 4 other ELL teachers, some have their own full classrooms, some have small offices, and some just have a traveling cart.

Last year, I shared a room with another ELL resource teacher who also worked with the same grades that I work with, 3rd – 5th. We had two desks in our room and one whiteboard. In the beginning of the year, we kind of split the room in the middle and had our own tables we worked at. Our schedules were different so we sometimes had students at the same time, which can be distracting, but not always.

After ACCESS testing, we decided to put up a divider and I really liked it! I did not have access to the big whiteboard or projector anymore but I did have my own small whiteboard that you can see in the picture. I also got a guided reading table instead of the rectangle table I had earlier. I used the wall to put up all my visuals as well as the divider to put up even more.

I met with all my groups here, if I was not pushing in or co-teaching. I kept most of the materials in the plastic boxes or I just put the materials I would need that day on the table so they were ready for my groups. I was blessed to only have to share with one teacher and have my own space. This year I will be moving to my own office so I am excited for that! I will share pictures from my new office once I get it all organized.

Thanks for reading! If you are an ELL resource teacher, let me know what kind of space you have!

Things you did not learn in Spanish class… Apologizing!

IMG_20161224_130859Lo siento… Sorry in Spanish, right? Wrong! Well kind of… It depends on the context. Today, I want to write about something that has confused me in Spanish for the longest time and share my thoughts and some tips if you are a Spanish learner. I started learning Spanish in high school and have been practicing and learning ever since. As a pre-k assistant, I had to constantly tell my students to apologize to their friends, for hitting each other, stealing their toys, or cutting in line. I would always say, “Dile lo siento…” thinking it meant our equivalent of “Tell him sorry” or “Say sorry.”

After saying this a few hundred times and hearing native speakers, I realized this was not the best way to apologize and the Spanish language had a few different ways to express being sorry.  Here are the three I have found that might help if you are wondering the best way to apologize in different contexts or ask students to apologize.

  1. Lo siento

The literal meaning of this means ” I feel it.” This would be appropriate if someone is telling you about losing a family member or complaining about their life. You are offering sympathy when you say this. The English equivalent might be something like ” I am sorry to hear that.”

2. Perdón, Perdóname, Perdóneme 

The literal meaning of the first one would be “Sorry” and the next two would be “Forgive me”  in the informal and formal conjugations. If you bump into someone, you would just say “perdón” and that would just act as an English “excuse me,” “pardon me,” or just “sorry.” The other two you would use if you are asking someone for forgiveness after you made a mistake. You can also use disculpa/disculpe for these situations but it seems a little formal.

3. Pedir disculpas, pedir perdón 

This is what I should have been saying to my students when I wanted them to apologize to each other. “Pedir” means to ask so these would literally mean, ” to ask for apologies” and “to ask forgiveness.”

So… when you want to tell a student to apologize to another student, instead of “dile lo siento” you can say anyone of these:

  • tienes que pedirle disculpas/perdón
  • quiero que le pidas disculpas/perdón
  • Pídele perdón/ Pídele disculpas


Thank you for reading! I hope this helped and as you know, I am not a native speaker so if you see something incorrect here, please let me know! Gracias 🙂

Non-Fiction Text Structures + Features Review

Today, I am sharing an activity I did the last school year with one of my ELL groups. These five girls were students between a level 4-5 on the WIDA scale. They have great social language but struggle with academic writing and vocabulary. Their classroom teacher was going over Text Structures (Compare and Contrast, Problem Solution, Cause and Effect, etc.) I wanted a fun activity to go over text structures as well as help the girls write some solid paragraphs. I, of course, went to Pinterest and found an awesome idea. I adapted it a little bit and this is what we came up with: awesome magazines!


In science, the girls were studying weather and natural disasters so I decided each girl would pick a natural disaster to study and write 5 mini articles based on the text structures. Before hand, I found a bunch of appropriate articles and books they could use to do their research. Once they finished reading the articles, I allowed them to look for a video to find information from. I created a simple graphic organizer with some guiding questions and each day (I had them for around 20 minutes) we would review one text structure and research information about the natural disaster.


Some examples of the articles

I wanted the girls to also review non- fiction text features ( glossary, captions, subtitles) so I required them to add some text features into their magazines. They really enjoyed the activity and were excited to have their own magazine at the end! I will definitely do this next year as well.


Multiple choice quiz and the glossary on the back!

Thank you for reading! Let me know if you would do this or ever have.