There are a lot of intricacies and nuances to teaching Spanish commands. You start thinking, “No problem – commands – piece of cake”, but then you realize that students get confused by positive and negative commands. Next, you add the Ud., Uds. forms and pretty soon your students’ heads are spinning. No worries! Here at SecondarySpanishSpace, we’ve got you covered with Spanish commands activities, teaching tips, lesson plans, songs, and videos.
Start by grabbing your Free Spanish Commands Formation Guide in the World Language Cafe Free Resource Library.
Spanish Commands Teaching Tips
1. Don’t introduce all the forms at once.
As a newer teacher, I used to teach big chunks of information all at once (ex. tú affirmative, negative, and irregulars all in one day). After a while, I learned that it was much better to make sure students mastered one part before adding more (ex. tú + one day, tú – another day, tú irregulars another day).
2. Practice with verb flashcards.
Hold up a card and randomly call on a student to say the command and the meaning. If you call on the students randomly, they have to pay more attention. Afterward, ask students to write a sentence with some of the more tricky commands because writing reinforces what they’re learning.
Variation: Play Around the World. Get game instructions in my 50 Review Games – free in my Resource Library (see below).
3. Teach students that the “Go-Go verbs get “gas” in the negative form.
The boys, especially, think this is very funny because anything having to do with farting is hysterical in middle school or high school.
Ex. hago, digo, vengo, pongo, salgo, tengo,
No hagas, no digas, no vengas, no pongas, no salgas, no tengas
4. Teach the irregulars song.
A student of mine came up with this handy song and it worked like magic. Now I’m not a singer, so don’t laugh when you listen to this, but I wanted to give you an idea of how it sounds.
Have students stand up and march around the room following you like little ducklings until this song is stuck in their heads forever (ha, ha, ha – insert evil Spanish teacher laugh here).
Haz, ve, (pause and students repeat)
Di, sé, (pause and students repeat)
Haz, ve, di, sé, ten, ven, (pause) sal, pon (Do this part altogether).
4. Say common commands and have the students act them out.
Examples: Báñate, Levántate, Vístete.
Throw in silly ones, too, such as Aféitate las piernas (Shave your legs – the boys think this is funny), Lávate el ombligo (Wash your belly button), etc. Use gestures and silly sentences to help them remember the most common expressions.
Ex. (Gesture: Beckon with your hand). Mark, ven conmigo a la puerta. Rose, ven conmigo al escritorio de Pablo. Tim, ven conmigo a la fiesta. etc.
(Silly Sentence) Juan, ten cuidado, hay una abeja encima de tu nariz. Suzy, ten cuidado, algo va a caer encima de tu cabeza. etc.
5. Create situations to use the irregulars and practice just one irregular at a time until they master it.
Ex. Have a student take someone’s pencil/pen and ask, “Carlos, dime la verdad. ¿Tomaste mi lápiz?”
Jorge, dime, ¿quién es tu cantante favorite?
Dime un secreto, tu nombre entero, quién va a ganar The Bachelor, the Superbowl, the game between your school and a rival, etc., quién es el padre del bebé de Lucía.
Spanish Commands Songs
There are sooo many good Spanish commands songs and students usually relate well to songs. Try teaching gestures for keywords before the song and have them do the gestures when they hear them. Here are 3 of my favorites:
- No te metas a mi Facebook – Catchy song in Spanish. Karaoke Version
- Mueve tu cuerpo – By Beyoncé in Spanish with subtitles in Spanish. Students write the commands they see and then do simple gestures to mimic keywords or get up and dance.
- Bésala – Disney song in Spanish with Spanish and English subtitles. Students write the commands.
1. What Are You Doing?
Team A gives a command to Team B (Uds. form if more than one person, tú form if one person). The person/people in Team B must do or pretend to do the command. While they are acting out the command, they think of another command to tell Team A. Team A must do the command and then say another command to the others. Each team must keep doing the action until they are given a new command. Keep going until one team can’t think of any more commands. The other team is the winner. Start again.
In Class: Split into groups of 4, 2 for Team A and 2 for Team B.
Remote: Same thing in breakout rooms.
2. Simón Dice (in class or remote)
Simon Says with commands. Be as creative as possible!
3. Ladder Game
Divide the students into 3-4 teams (depending on your class size).
Remote Learners: Write each answer on their own on a piece of paper and then will add up all their team points at the end.
In Class: Students sit with their teams in rows perpendicular to the chalkboard.
The first person from each team goes to the board and draws a ladder with 3 rungs. Say a command or a sentence with a command and students write the answer on the bottom rung. The first team with the correct answer gets to keep their answer on the rung and the other teams have to erase their answers (or you can play that anyone with a correct answer keeps their answer, as long as they weren’t looking at the other teams’ answers).
If the person at the board is stuck and can’t come up with the answer, they may pass the chalk to the next teammate. A team wins when they “climb to the top of the ladder” by getting three correct answers. Give them one point and have everyone start again with a fresh ladder.
1. Pamphlet Project
Students work in groups to write a trifold pamphlet promoting an imaginary camp or gym. They include commands: Ex. Come to our gym. Lift weights, Meet new people, etc.
2. Parent/Child, Teacher/Student, Good Cop/Bad Cop
One student is the parent and the other student is the child. Students practice giving each other commands in their new roles. For good cop, bad cop, the student has one person on either side. The person on the left is giving good advice and the person on the right is giving bad advice. Ex. Do your homework. Don’t do your homework; play video games.
3. Design T-Shirts
Draw a template of a T-shirt outline on 1/2 page of paper and make copies for students. They create a command slogan, show it to you for approval, and then color the T-shirt with the slogan. Hang the T-shirts with paper clips on a string in class. Let students vote for their favorites.
4. Create Command Wall Decor
Students make their own posters/lists of advice or sign for how to live life using commands in Spanish. Ex. Eat your vegetables. Dance like no one is watching. Share. Dream big.
5. Chain of Command
Each student receives a slip of paper telling them to do something when somebody else does something different. The teacher starts the chain and the students do what their slips say at the appropriate moments. Try to make the actions funny.
1. Cuando alguien aplauda diez veces, deja caer tu libro en el suelo.
2. Cuando alguien deje caer su libro, escribe, “Me encanta la clase de español,” en la pizarra.
3. Cuando alguien escriba en la pizarra, levántate y salta cinco veces.
6. Recipe Project
Students write a script of how to prepare a simple recipe, turn it in so you can check it over and make corrections. Then they film themselves making the recipe. They may want to prep some of the steps ahead of time.
Resources for Teaching Commands
2 Week Commands Unit
Everything you need to teach commands from start to finish!
Watch these recipe videos and have students write down commands that they see.
** Warning: Watching these recipes may make your mouth water.
1.Making Flan, 2 min. – Words in Spanish.
3.Chiles en nogada, 4 min. – Traditional Mexican recipe because it has the 3 colors of the Mexican flag.
1.Positive Tú Commands, 5 min.
2.Tú + Commands with Pronouns, 7 min.
3.Negative Tú Commands with Pronouns, 8 min.
Hope you find these Spanish commands activities and lesson plans helpful!