Hey profe, maybe you’ve heard the term “pop-up grammar” thrown around, or perhaps you’re looking to get away from a structured grammar approach in your Spanish class. Straightforward grammar lessons are *kind of* boring (at least for me and my students).
Pop-up grammar is one of the tools we use in CI/TPRS classrooms to guide student understanding. I use CI and TPRS practices in my classroom, but that doesn’t make me an expert. I’ve linked resources from other pages in this post to share other perspectives and ideas regarding pop-up grammar.
A few years ago, I switched to this grammar structure in my Spanish classes. This allows me to teach grammar as needed, and do it in a more natural way.
What is Pop-Up Grammar?
Teaching Comprehensibly says that pop-up grammar should be only 20 seconds or less! For me, that’s a little bit too quick, I prefer to dig in for 5-10 minutes to make sure students really understand. I also like to follow up with some examples and maybe even student practice. Check out my grammar materials here.
Pop-Up grammar is focused on what students need at the moment. It serves to support understanding, explain a concept, and support students. Check out how Sarah Breckley embraces a student question and builds in pop-up grammar in the moment.
How can I use Pop-Up Grammar in Spanish class?
This is the goal. In theory, it would be great for students to ask: “Why do we say this instead of that?”
Magister P, a CI Latin teacher, says that grammar pop-up should be initiated by students, and offers a very brief explanation of the concept (see more from him here).
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have students who initiate conversations about grammar. I’m lucky this year, I have a unicorn student who DOES ask about grammar – ALL the time. I also had him two years ago and I’ll say, his peers learn so much about Spanish language structures because of his questions.
Ask About It
This is what I do, especially in my grammar resources. I ask my students to mark all the actions in a text or to pay attention to the verbs. Then I ask what they notice: patterns, structures, etc.
This encourages my students to examine the grammar and find the structures on their own, instead of me telling them how it works. They usually connect that the endings are different and I remind them that the ending tells us the “WHO” and “WHEN” about the action.
Plan the Pop-Up
Pop-up grammar should be spontaneous, but it can also be planned. I strategically plan pop-ups for targeted grammar structures. I know I want my Spanish 1 classes to learn present tense, I want Spanish 2 to know past and present, and I want Spanish 3’s to really be pushing the grammar limits with imperfect, preterite, subjunctive, and more.
In order to make sure my students see the grammar structures I want them to know, I prepare materials that allow them to see these structures in action. This targeted approach helps me pinpoint the grammar structures they need, and keep it focused on using just one or two tenses at a time.