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How to run Citas Cortas: a well structured and supported speaking activity

Looking to incorporate more speaking in your middle and high school Spanish classes? Check out Citas Cortas! This speed-dating style activity takes the pressure off students while still providing them the opportunity to communicate 100% in the target language. The attached reflection is a perfect way for your students to examine their own progress.

I have the activity set-up and instructions below, as well as tips and tricks that have helped me and my students. I also share a free version for you to try 🙂 Enjoy!

What is Citas Cortas?

We all know that it is important (and sometimes difficult!) to set expectations for class participation and target language use in our classrooms right from the start of the year. This speaking activity will help your novice language learners build confidence in their developing speaking skills, even early on in the year.

My Citas Cortas activities are my take on speed-dating style conversations in Spanish class. The goal is to take some of the pressure off of students by providing them with structure and support, while still sneakily packing in as much communication in the target language as possible. The self-reflection that comes attached to each checklist set is ideal for formatively assessing where your students are in their level of comprehension. It also gives your students a chance to self-assess and make changes to their review/study habits based on their progress.

Citas Cortas is shown here with two more speaking activities that I love: Llama Mía and Sonidos Secretos.

Citas Cortas is great for lots of speaking in a short time. Llama Mía is great for a relaxing activity or a station, and Sonidos Secretos is an amazing way to fill your classroom with laughter, and with the target language!

Set-up and Directions:

  • Each student needs 1 checklist, with the self-reflection printed on the backside
  • I have students separate their chairs in pairs around the room, sitting face to face. They do not need a lot of space, but I like for the students to be able to focus on their own conversation with their partner each round.
  • I like to preview the questions with my students to make sure they are ready to jump in to full target language use once the activity starts. I don’t mind helping with comprehension beforehand… before the clock starts!
  • I put a visual timer on our TV screen, but if a class gets distracted by this I simply keep the timer on my watch.
  • Each round I run the clock for 60-90 seconds, based on the skill level of my class.
  • I direct students to ask at least 2 questions and answer at least 2 questions per round. You can adjust this goal depending on the skill level of your class.
  • Students are directed to do their best to expand on their answers, even in the case of a yes/no question.
  • Decide how many rounds your class will complete. Students like to know what to expect!
  • Start the clock! And circulate / join in on the conversations! 🙂
  • Optional: provide time for the self-reflection (shown in the right photo below) afterwards. Discuss common findings as a class, or collect them to review on your own.

My students are sometimes hesitant to start this activity, but it is without fail the one activity they mention the most when I ask them “Which activity has helped you improve your speaking?” on their participation reflections and self assessments each quarter.

Tips for the activity:

  • As a reward/motivation during this activity, my students know that as long as I hear 100% Spanish, they get to choose their next partner. The deal is, no repeat partners. No exceptions. This does not work for every class, and for a class that needs more structure we rotate partners in a clockwise motion instead 🙂
  • I do not always complete 10 rounds for this activity, To be honest, 10 rounds is our “challenge,” and students are always really excited for me to brag about them to my other classes… “Tell your block 6 that we made it to 10 rounds!!” Most classes participate in 6-7 rounds before I decide it’s time to move on.
  • I always make sure I give students 2-3 minutes afterwards to complete the attached reflection. We then discuss our answers aloud, if they feel comfortable sharing. We compare similar answers / avoided questions, and brainstorm why those patterns might be. It is usually a very productive discussion, for the students and for myself / my planning!
  • GRADING: I sometimes utilize this activity as a quick (small) interpersonal grade! To do this, I tell my students that “Everyone is starting with a 5/5. Speak with your partners IN SPANISH for the duration of the activity, and you keep your 5/5!” As I walk around the room, if a student is speaking in English, that student drops to a 4/5. If I hear English from them on my next rotation, they drop to a 3/5, and so on. My classes always finish with 4s and 5s! Their communication doesn’t have to be perfect, but this is a practice of circumlocution and doing their best to stay IN the target language!

Ready to try it?

Grab your free “Empecemos” copy right here!

This free version is great for a Spanish 1 class, or even for review at the start of the year for Spanish 2.

I hope your students have fun!

If you like this activity, you can find all of my available Citas Cortas activity here, and EDITABLE TEMPLATES can be found right here!

They also come at a discount in this bundle!

Other speaking favorites

My other favorite speaking activities are all here 🙂

If you haven’t tried Sonidos SecretosCacto ConversaciónCafé Charla, or Llama Mía… check them out! I have free versions of those activities listed in my store as well, for varying levels of Spanish class.

Thank you for reading!

While you are here, be sure to find me on your favorite social media platforms @theengagedspanishclassroom so we can collaborate! I love sharing photos and activity ideas throughout the year, and I love meeting other world language teachers online!

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My name is Erin and I have 8 years of experience teaching high school Spanish. I love building positive student relationships and bringing a bit of fun into my lessons to keep my students engaged!

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AND GAIN ACCESS TO SOME GREAT RESOURCES.