Aprisa y Corriendo is an exercise that aids the development of spoken language through pattern recognition and instant recall. Humans are naturally keen in both recognizing patterns and adapting patterns through the rules built into their muscle memory. The pursuit of learning a foreign language introduces a new codex that must be programmed into our memories. In English, when presented with the pattern, “I see, you see, they see…” anyone with basic conversational skills knows if she were to enter the pattern it would undergo a change: “I see, you see, she sees…” These changes are systematic and exist in many languages. I often refer to this as a pattern codex with my students.
To become successful practitioners of a language, you must learn the codex so you may apply these changes in conversation. However, learning these patterns, or conjugations, on paper does little to aid your productive skills when speaking. This is for the simple reason that our brains process written language differently from how we process spoken language. Have you ever noticed how students, when given a question such as, “¿Tienes mucha tarea?”, their response is often “Yo tienes tres horas de tarea”. It is frustrating because you know how frequently you have been working to learn these patterns, but when they begin speaking it is as if they have forgotten everything.
Consider the same question in English, “Do you have a lot of homework?” and the response, “I have three hours of homework.” Notice there was no change to the verb. Often times the moments when a pattern change is needed and students fail to apply the new ending, it is because their English pattern codex has never told them to do so.
Fortunately, students are incredibly suited to learn a new codex. In fact, my Spanish 2 students can usually master a basic pattern change with a handful of high-frequency verbs in just two days time.
The game is simple, you will call out the pattern that will be asked in the form of the question and the class will return the pattern needed to form the response. For example, the teacher will say aloud “tú tienes” or “tienes” or even “tienes tú” and the class will respond with “sí, yo tengo.” After a few days a drilling this pattern, the student will only need to be reminded occasionally when they make the mistake of saying “Yo tienes…”
When I work with the patterns for the past tense (preterite), I go through the exercise: I say,“conociste” and they respond, “conocí.” Later when I conduct interpersonal speaking benchmarks and I ask the question ¿Cuándo conociste a tu mejor amigo?, ultimately I have a few students that begin their responses with: “Yo conociste a mi mejor amigo hace…” Humorously, all I need to do during our conversation is say the word “conociste” while pointing at myself and when I point my finger at them, they smile and say, “Yo CONOCÍ a mi mejor amigo hace dos años.”
This call-and-response activity is the single most helpful training for my students to improve their confidence when speaking Spanish.
Please enjoy this Google Slides deck where you can see how I go through these patterns as a class activity. There are slides included to be copied where you can write any verb or essential question you are working on. I recommend pressuring students into answering as quickly as they can (hence the name). You should take the time to create LOTS of slide… create more than you think you need. As this practice goes quickly one you begin, you will run out sooner than you realize. You can also restart the slide deck and go through them one student at a time. Happy speaking.