Irregular Preterite and other yucky things

We all know that our students will see, hear, and use things like the subjunctive and irregular preterite verbs but it just isn’t any fun to watch them struggle to acquire them when we attack it backward.  I spent many a year chanting, pounding the desks, and sending home 6 conjugations for homework to still get back papers with yo tener in level 4.  UGH…

Several years ago I made some changes in my classroom and began to teach verb chunks as useable structure.  I can teach ANYTHING from subjunctive chunks in level 1 to irregular preterite verbs in context but I am careful to keep it engaging and filled with input!

As I changed jobs and began teaching with a colleague who hadn’t been trained yet in CI, I knew that she was willing and able to use lots of language in class but she didn’t have the training I did!  It was a pickle!  So we bought Martina Bex’s SOMOS curriculum.  I am telling you, this is a magic bullet!  It let her learn all about how to teach in target with clear instructions, through lesson plans, and engaging activities.  Even a nod or two to grammar as she was detoxing from the textbook!

I have always liked using Martina’s units in level 2 because while we’ve been exposed to past, present, and future in level 1, we are really working on narrative in these tenses in level 2!  Martina’s materials have GREAT stories to work all the different idiosyncrasies of the past tenses.  This week we’ve been in SOMOS 2 Unit 6 “El secreto”.

As I was listening to one of my current earworms, Suena el dembow, I realized it had many of the same verbs we were using in Unit 6 and even some we used in the first 5 units!  I was so excited!  Tuve, Supe, Vine, Acercarme (from unit 2)… It was GREAT!

I made this song of the week packet to go along with it.  If you’re looking for a fun way to get reps of past tense verbs in action, maybe this is it!


Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

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