An Easy Opening Routine

Routines work. Here’s mine. 

1. Write day, date & month on board. Pause, point & say class, today is Friday, the 13th of December. Then circle this briefly. Then, ask what was the date yesterday? What was the day?  #s 1-30, days, months: DONE w/o a stupid “unit” on them. 

2. For the first few days of the course, write the weather on the board: it’s windy and raining. Briefly circle this. If the weather never changes where you are, talk about other places in the world. Weather DONE w/o boring “activities.” After the first 10-15 days, you can skip writing.  

3.  What did we do yesterday? I tell a brief absurd story about myself in the past, eg class, yesterday my nine girlfriends and I drove my Ferrari to McDonalds. I ordered 37 Big Macs and 89 coffees. Then I got tired and fell asleep in McDonalds.  I use this poster to pause & point:

After, I ask my FPs what they did.  BOOM! Past tense, by the time you get to stories with it, will be totally familiar to them. 

If you either aren’t personally comfortable making stories up like I am, get the FPs to talk more…we can always say if you guys are gonna be boring, you have to listen to me. 

4. The news. On Day 1, ask one news question: what happened in the news yesterday?  Kids will say something like the Patriots played the Chargers. Write this on board, then S.L.O.W.L.Y. circle it. Introduce ONE verb form per day. 

With that vocab, you can ask questions such as did the Patriots play the Broncos? (no) Did the Patriots play the Seahawks? More reps? Point to your question words and ask where did the Patriots play? and when did the Patriots play? 

The next day, ask the same question what happened in the news? and circle a different item eg Brad Pitt was dumped by Angelina Jolie! Return to the Day 1 sentence and use that vocab for another set of Q&A. Within 5 classes you will have a solid set of good vocab, kid centered, to discuss.  Only introduce one verb per day

5.  Monday? Do selfies ‘n’ stuffies!

6. Friday? Put up a poster with am going (to), is going (to) etc and talk about weekend plans. I start: class, this weekend, I am going to climb Mt Everest with Jennifer Anniston and Steve Jobs. Then, on Sunday, I am going to sleep late and my dog and I are going to eat Vietnamese food in Russia. I briefly circle this, then point at board, pause, and get my FPs to tell their plans and answer a few questions. (Also remember to send your stuffies home!)

These are great to remember for Monday: class, on Sunday I wanted to eat with Vladimir Putin, but I was unable to, because my dog had explosive diahrea (this has actually happened). 

Here’s my Friday poster:

7. If your class is into it, after a week or two of the news, you can start soap operas, which are loads of fun.  

Anyway: that’s a simple opener. Got ideas? Share in the comments. 



  1. Excellent ideas! Maximum CI in minimal time! And no sheltering grammar!!!
    One question, sorry if I missed it, but what (or who) is an FP?

  2. I am using parts of this routine in my classroom and like the consistency, but I struggle with the news question. Students in my classes are bringing up some heavy topics for Spanish 2 class, most of which I have a hard time talking about in Spanish. What would you recommend for classes that answer the news question with serious answers such as murder trials, rape, Trump insults, drug possession etc.? These are tough topics to address in a beginning Spanish class.

    1. I don’t think anything is really off-topic. I just make sure the language is palatable.

      We talked about Trump’s sexual assaults with my 1s last year:

      Clase, Donald Trump abusó a una mujer.
      Clase, ¿es bueno o malo, abusar?
      ¿Abusó a una mujer o a un hombre Trump? — Abusó a hna mujer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s