Using the imperfect in descriptions and to set the scene for a story

Posted by Alvaro

We feel very glad of being able to work closely with fellow teachers, and thanks to your suggestions and comments we keep adding resources with new features to our website. In our new icebreaker, called “Los pájaros”, we have introduced some of the most common requests that teachers have emailed to us: different accents and subtitles.

  • This is the first icebreaker partially filmed outside Spain. When we went to the Ballestas Islands (Peru) the idea for this icebreaker came to us almost immediately. It’s a beautiful place, and we feel honored to present it to your students. The actors of the video are also from different nationalities: Júnior, from Peru, and Addy, from the Dominican Republic.

  • ”Los pájaros” is not an icebreaker for beginners, and even Spanish II or III students may have problems to follow the story. That’s why we’ve included optional Spanish subtitles, which in our opinion are a great way to work on pronunciation and listening comprehension.

This icebreaker focuses on explaining the use of the imperfect to give descriptions in the past, which is one of the most common uses of this tense. This is a topic we also covered in “¿Qué hiciste el sábado?”, but we know students often struggle with the imperfect-preterite difference, and looking deeply into this specific use will help them to understand that, when they tell a story, they must use the preterite for the actions (“Cuando Elva llegó al puerto”) and the imperfect for the descriptions (“había mucha gente y hacía calor.”)

You can watch the video in low resolution in the icebreaker section, and we’ve also published the following presentation to explain where the Ballestas Islands are and what they are like, and also what the “guano” is:

Bablingua - Los Pájaros - Icebreaker


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