Why do tests? Lesson 7

In some sistemas educativas there is a lot of testing, and in some there is very little.  I work in un sistema that is centered around tests and, very often, I don’t like what I see.

There are some children who have goodness only knows what going on in their vidas personales.  There are children who didn’t understand en clase and who have a deep belief that they cannot achieve.  If these children get a test to do that is mostly beyond them, it will only strengthen negative and damaging beliefs. The exact opposite of what teachers should be aiming to do.

There will always be some children who pay attention in class, who are able to focus, who understand first time and who go home to supportive familias where there is time and space for revision and homework.  If these children know what is going to be on a test then the chances are that they will get a very good mark.  That’s fine for them … but it might exacerbate the negative effects on the first grupo de niños that I talked about.

Why do tests at all?

Tests that are built into un curso can be a great parte de una educación.  They can help niños focus on what they have learned so far.  They can serve as markers of achievement.  They can build confianza and group unity.  But in order to be truely useful the people who take those tests need to be able to get most of the questions correcto.  Here are my guidelines to assessment for learning.

  1. All tests should help learners learn (the only exception is the final exit exams used by employers etc.  The final GCSE exams en mi caso).
  2. All niños should be given suficientes oportunidades para estudiar en clase to the extent needed for them to easily secure 80% of the marks in the test.
  3. Marking should be generoso, not pedantic.  With lenguajes, el gol es la comunicación.  If someone misses off un acento or gets the spelling a bit off, no importa.  El objeto is to comunicar when you travel or do business.  Plus, there is plenty of time to get spelling accurate later.  I am not saying don’t correct, but I am saying don’t dock points for it.

Tests should be una celebración that helps learners to feel good about what they are learning.  They should NOT compound disadvantage.  If we build confianza in our schools better learning will definitely follow.  Have a look at the powerpoint that I used to help children revise their first Spanish learning. You can see that I used this test after siete clases. If you have any questions, no dudas en contactarme.

Spanish lesson 7 Powerpoint

Señor Mago goes to el supermercado

Why not introducir un poco de Spanish in story time.  My daughter did not want to hear stories in Spanish, but she was happy for a word or two to be in Spanish if she could understand from context, repetición and similarities to inglés.

Here is a puppet show I did for children under the age of 6.  Puppets are great for conversación if you are teaching on your own, so why not pick up a sock, give him un nombre and a couple of eyes, and you are away!

Here is a script for a children’s show … feel free to add to it and do encourage los niños to join in with you.  You can enjoy the story yourself by watching my tremendous video, but I do encourage you to have a go at collecting the props and performing it yourself.  Go on … it’s fun!

Señor Mago goes to el supermercado

Look at my dog … Mira mi perro


When niños begin school they have to work on their fine motor skills.  I gave a class and asked children in years 1, 2 and 3 to trace letters and colorear animales.  Here are some suggested steps for la clase.  I include British Sign Language as it helps form a bridge between the 2 lenguajes, and because children responden positivamente when they are asked to be physical.

  1. Circle time.  Este animal is called un perro en español.  What is un perro called in English?  What noise does un perro make?  Put your hand up if you have un perro.  Copy me when I do the British sign language for un perro, like this: https://www.signbsl.com/sign/dog
  2. Repetir step one with the words for duck, pato; cow, vaca; and pig, cerdo.  Follow the links to see how to make the signs for estos animales.
  3. Choose random animales from the four that you have presentado, and when you say them, ask los niños to sign them.
  4. Say random animales en español, and ask los niños to show you the sign for them.

I gave imágenes of the four animales to los niños to colorear and to trace the words.  You can download un documento here: Cuatro animales

I hope that you will enjoy los imágenes that los niños coloreararon en mi clase.  You can see how I finished mi clase: I pointed to un niño who held up their imágen.  I said “Mira mi perro,” (or whatever animal it was) and los niños made el sonido de este animal.  You can hear how they enjoyed it, and I hope your niños enjoy this too.


Navidad en España

Let’s go to España and have a little look at how they celebran la Navidad!

Around the middle of diciembre you will see nativity scenes going up in homes, pueblos and cities.  If you happen to be in el norte de España you might notice an unexpected figurine:  El caganer is a shepherd having a poo … perhaps not exactamente what José and María wanted so close to the newborn bebé Jesús!

Diciembre rolls on and in the fiestas and social visits people give and eat turrón.  Turrón is a sweet made of honey, almonds and egg.  ¡Delicioso!

El veintidós de diciembre (22/12) España gives its atención to “El Gordo”.  This is one of the biggest lotteries in Europa.

The next big evento is La Nochebuena … Christmas Eve is when familias have a big meal, go to midnight mass … La misa del Gallo … the mass of the rooster if you translate it literally.  Papá Noel turns up and leaves a present for los niños, but perhaps just one.

El Día de los Inocentes sees people playing jokes on each other, like we do on April Fools’ Day, and then it’s La Nochevieja … New Year’s Eve … with fiestas and el costumbre of eating 12 lucky grapes … las uvas de la suerte.

It isn’t until el seis de enero … 6/01 that Los Reyes Magos turn up with the bulk of the presents for los niños.

Navidad en España.. Click this link to download the presentation and documentos so you can deliver this clase.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Lesson 1: Words you know!

I teach español to children who have eleven or twelve years, once o doce años, and I want to share what I am doing with you.

You might be a school teacher or you might be a home educator.  Lo importante thing to know is that you don’t have to speak español yourself to deliver these clases to your niños … it is perfectamente posible to learn with them as we go along.  If you have any doubts please get in touch with me … I will do everything I can to help.

I am a fan of slow and steady, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring!  It just means that I recognise that other people might learn as slowly as I do, so I revisit the same words y frases throughout el curso.

¡Let’s comenzar!  Each clase lasts aproximadamente una hora, 1 hour.  Download the powerpoint, watch el video, and message me with any questions whenever you like.  I hope you enjoy estas clases as much as I do.

Un saludo,


Lesson 1 below.  Click here for a link to the other Key Stage 3 lessons.  Enjoy!


A crossword for homework!