Learn Spanish with Music

Learn Spanish with La Camisa Negra by Juanes

One of my favorite singers is Juanes.  Juanes is a Colombian musician who has won more than 20 Latin Grammy Awards!  One of his top hits was La Camisa Negra.  It is a fun song, but there are some “double meaning” words to it.  This is very common in Juanes music.  The lyrics can be a bit confusing to the beginning Spanish speaker.  This video will try to help you better understand this fun song.


Teacher Resources

Vocabulary Learning Units for Language Learners

Learning vocabulary is one of the pillars of language learning.  It is a constant challenge for students to learn and remember new vocabulary in the target language.  I constantly tell my students that they need repeated exposure to the words in order to remember them and add them to their “useable” vocabulary.  Obviously, I help my students get this repeated exposure in my class.

First, I present my vocabulary in themed units.  This helps the students have a point of reference.  I make sure to point out any cognates or close cognates with the words and I share any tricks I use to remember the words myself.  (At this point, I don’t have to rely on these “tricks” to remember most of the vocabulary, but it helps my students start to figure out their own vocabulary tricks.


I start the vocabulary units with flashcards.  I try to use pictures that are clear representations of the words, or pictures that will stick in their memory (cute or silly animals help).  I encourage my older students to create their own flashcards with their own images.

I use the flashcards whenever I review the words with the students.  This gets the image and the word linked in their memory.  I teach the students various ways they can practice with the vocabulary cards.  Flashcards are always in the learning center for the students to use.  (Also, a side benefit is that it can be a confidence boost when the student sees a whole stack of words that he or she knows!)

Memory Matching Games

One of the reviews I like to use with my students is memory matching games.  I can make a printable version of these by simply printing two sets of flashcards.  I also make a digital version that we can play online or on the interactive whiteboard using Powerpoint.  Rather than students competing against each other, I set it as a class challenge to find all of the matches.  The students are engaged and help each other as they search for the matches.  Since I use numbers on the square, the students are also practicing their numbers in the target language.

I Have, Who Has

This is another great review game that students love to participate in.  It is a bit challenging to use this online, but it can be done by sending each student a “card” in a private chat.  I will say this game is much less prep work in person.  This card has the students repeating the target vocabulary over and over.  The students are engaged and have fun as they work through the cycle.

Vocabulary Worksheets

I use a variety of worksheets with my students to practice vocabulary depending on their needs.  I have simple handwriting worksheets in both print and cursive.  I have matching sheets as well as “draw the picture” sheets.

When the students are beginning to use the vocabulary, I will start working with the students with fill-in-the-blank sheets that use the vocabulary in different sentence structures.  For example, maybe we have been talking about the sun (sol) in our summer unit.  I might have an exercise that has a fill-in-the-blank about the sun being the closest star to Earth.  This helps the students use the vocabulary in different contexts than just the original theme we were studying.


My students love when we do the vocabulary riddles.  After we have been working with the words for a bit, I will use these riddles as another practice.  I will give the students clues in the target language that will help them discover the answer which is one of the vocabulary words.  These riddles are helpful because the clues are in a natural context and often there are new words they learn in the clues that are directly related.  These are great vocabulary boosters!

If I want to extend the riddles experience, I ask my students to create their own riddles.  Then they can present them to a partner, their small group, or the whole class depending on the time I have available for the activity.

Make sure to check out this post where I discuss putting together the riddles and how I use them in class.

Would You Rather?

This is one of the favorite activities in my classroom.  I try to have one with every vocabulary theme so that we can pull them out as we need an extra activity.  These questions use the vocabulary words and I expect students to use the vocabulary we have been studying.  This article discusses several ways that I use the Would You Rather games in my classroom.

Assessment Tools

There are several digital assessment tools that are helpful for checking the students’ vocabulary adquisition.  Many of my vocabulary units on Teachers Pay Teachers include either an Easel assessment that is accessible through TPT itself or a Boom Cards assessment.  There are other possible assessments, but these are self-checking and do not require me to conduct them.

When looking at vocabulary acquisition, I am more concerned that the student is making progress than exactly what percentage he/she is getting correct.  My ultimate goal with vocabulary is that the student can use it naturally in conversation so I do not place the emphasis on simply “knowing” the word.  I keep pushing the words that we have learned and I constantly review the words in the previous units.


Vocabulary is a very important part of learning a language.  It should be something that is constantly being expanded upon.  I hope this post has given you some ideas on how you can review vocabulary in your classroom.  I do have some vocabulary units available on Teachers Pay Teachers to help you get started.  I have a variety of activities for several themes of vocabulary and I am constantly creating more vocabulary products.  If there is a particular unit or activity that you need, feel free to contact me.  I’d love to help you help your students!

Learn English with Music

Aprende Inglés con All of Me por John Legend

Esta bella canción se ha hecho muy popular en los últimos años.  Incluso, ya se escucha en muchos eventos como bodas y aniversarios.  John Legend escribió esta canción para su esposa y dicen que el video musical hecho por los dos estaba tocando en su boda.  En este video les ayudo a entender las frases y vocabulario en inglés.  La cancion es un poco lenta asi que es mas facil entender. 

Online ESL Teaching Teacher Resources

Using Reward Stars in Your Classroom

Giving star rewards is something that has caught on with online ESL classes and distance learning.  There are multiple ways of using these reward stars in your classroom.  I’m going to give you several tips and tricks for using our reward stars.  I have seen these successfully used with teachers from many different online ESL platforms including VIPKid, Magic Ears, PalFish, GoGoKid, and more.

Before we start, I suggest that you cut out the individual stars.  You might decide how you would like to store them.  I store mine in ziplock bags separated by theme.

If you are using them in a regular classroom, I highly suggest that you laminate them.  If you are using them in an online classroom, I find that laminating them will often cause a glare in the camera.  They could potentially not hold up as long (but you are welcome to print my products as often as you like after purchase).

One way to use the reward stars is to attach them to a clothespin either with glue or tape.  Then you can simply clip the stars to a string you hang in your online classroom.  I have even seen teachers clip them to their headphone cord.

I like to have the reward stars attached to something so I can show the whole star to my students.  I attach them to a pencil, a skewer stick, a chopstick, a straw, or a popsicle stick (whatever I can get cheap).  Then I can store the stars I am using in a coffee mug.

I also really like to use my stars with magnets attached.  Here I used magnetic “dots” glued to the back of the star.

I do not have a larger magnetic background (great idea, but I can’t attach anything big to the walls of my house).  I use a dollar store cookie pan to hold my awards and I display it in my background during class.

In-Person Classroom Use

The idea of the stars is to give a visible award to a student who is doing well.  I have also used these in my classroom in public school when I have a class award that we are working toward.  I can use the themed stars to track their progress.  I could use the different stars for different guided reading groups.  For in-person classroom use, I laminate the stars and usually use the magnet backing.

You could also use them like brag tags by punching a hole in them and adding them to your brag tag rings.  You might print them on paper and make them into larger stickers.

What else can I do with reward stars?

I love to use reward stars to extend learning in my online ESL classes.  Depending on the student’s ability, I can ask about the pictures.  I can ask about colors, types of animals, clothing, etc.  Don’t neglect the opportunity to count the stars as well.  Using these rewards as a natural extension of the language is a wonderful use and engages the students in “real” conversation.  At the end, make sure to ask what star is their favorite and why.

Reward stars are a very versatile tool that you can use in your classroom whether online or in person.  I enjoy making the different sets and use them personally in my own classes.  You can see the sets of reward stars we have available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Teacher Resources

Riddles in Your Classroom: Tips and Tricks

I have several riddles products available for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Riddles in the classroom are a great way to review vocabulary and get the students talking.  You can use the version created for Google Slides to project them to your whole class for group instruction, or you can use the printable versions.

I like to use the printable version as a self-checking literacy center.  The riddles are aligned so the questions/clues are on the left side of the page and the answer is on the right side of the page.  Cut them first into strips horizontally.

Then fold them.

Finally, secure them together with double-sided tape or glue.  If you are going to laminate them (which I highly recommend), it won’t make much difference as it just needs to hold together through the machine.  If you are not laminating, you may want to be more liberal with your adhesive.

Again, I highly recommend that you laminate these if you are using them in learning centers as they can be cleaned better and hold up to little hands better.  Since I teach online, I can just use my printed cards with just a little tape as I am the only one holding them.

These riddles are an excellent review for vocabulary and keep the students engaged.  It also teaches more vocabulary that is being used in the clues.  My students love solving these riddles in my online immersion classes and I can easily vary the levels of support I offer.

Some ways to vary support:

  • students read the clues
  • teacher reads the clues
  • have the students explain the clues
  • help define words the students don’t know
  • offer more clues to help identify the answer
  • repeat the clue in a different way
  • act out the clues when possible (use TPR)
  • let the student answer in the native language and ask partners/classmates for help remembering the target language word

I can also add more difficulty to the activity by mixing several sets of riddles together.  As an extension, I give the students a word and have them make up their own riddles.  Of course, this can easily become a writing extension as well.

My students love solving these riddles and ask to do this activity repeatedly.  I hope that you try these with your students as well to reinforce the vocabulary.  I’m sure that you will enjoy using these riddles in your classroom.

Here are some of our Riddle products available:

Adivinanzas del Verano

Learn Spanish with Music

Learn Spanish with Music – Las Mañanitas

Learing Spanish can be fun when you use songs to learn more.  This is the traditional birthday song used in most Mexican celebrations.  Learn more about the Mexican birthday traditions.

This song is sung by Vicente Fernandez and is one of the more traditional versions.  Learn what people are singing to each other when they celebrate their birthday in Mexico.

Culture Lessons

Birthday Traditions in Mexico

Part of the fun of learning languages is learning about the culture and traditions of other countries.  One of the things that can be different is the way birthdays are celebrated.  This article will discuss the birthday traditions in Mexico.

Birthday Cake

In Mexico, the tradition was to bring a serenade with a mariachi band early in the morning of the birthday.  They would sing the traditional song, Las Mañanitas, to the birthday celebrant.

Now, the serenade may not come early in the morning, but usually, Las Mañanitas is still sung at birthday parties.  Many families have taken on the tradition of having a cake with candles for each year the person has been alive.  However, there is a tradition that is very different.  In Mexico, after singing the traditional song, the birthday boy or girl takes a small bite out of the cake (after blowing out the candles if they are using candles).  Most of the time, this is followed by the family members shoving that person’s face down into the cake!

Another birthday tradition is piñatas.  While piñatas were originally used for Las Posadas in December, many families have taken this tradition for birthdays as well.  This is a fun part of the party when all the children take turns hitting the piñata and diving for candy.

There is also a song that is sung to determine the time you can sing at the piñata. The family usually sings this as the child swings at the piñata and when the verse is over, that child’s turn is done.  Usually, the children take turns from the youngest to the oldest so everyone gets a chance.  The birthday boy or girl will usually go first.

These are some of the more common birthday traditions in Mexico.  What traditions does your family have to celebrate birthdays?


Beach Vocabulary in English and Spanish

Learn some vocabulary for the beach and swimming activities in English and Spanish.


4th of July Vocabulary in English and Spanish

Learn some vocabulary for the Fourth of July holiday in both English and Spanish.

Language Learning Teacher Resources

Attending an Educational Conference: Getting the Most Out of Your Experience

I just finished attending a virtual educational conference this last week.  There were so many amazing speakers that poured out their knowledge to the attendees.  However, by the end of the week, my brain was swimming!  The best word to describe how I felt was overwhelmed.

Preparing for the Conference

One of my hobbies is working with planners, so before the conference, I used my planner supplies to create a “binder” for the week’s materials.  As I listened to the speakers, I printed their handouts, took my notes, and added them to my binder.

After the Educational Conference

I had spent a lot of extra time at the conference, so I took several days after the conference to catch up on my other work.  Now, I’m ready to dive into digesting what I learned.  I created these conference notes sheets.  They give me space to jot down the main takeaways and then I made a space to put in my action steps.

Conference Notes Handout

After I had these notes done, I put them into my Trello.  Some are on my general to-do list, and some are put into future to-do lists.  There are some of these things that I am not going to be tackling right now, but I may be ready in a couple of months.

If you would like a free copy of my educational conference notes, you can download them here:  Conference Notes

As you can see these were made for the Teachers Pay Teachers Forward 2021 conference, but you can use these for any conference you might be attending.

If you are a bilingual teacher, we have a great educational conference coming up at the end of July.  The Bilingual Educators Virtual Summit will be July 26-30….and guess who is presenting?  I will be offering a presentation on Engaging Your Students with Online Platforms in Your Classroom.  I hope you will join us (and you can use your conference notes for this too!)