A couple weeks back, I wrote about different ways to practice vocabulary other than using flashcards. This got me thinking that it could also be useful to discuss verb conjugation tactics as well.
Conjugating verbs correctly, while annoying and nit-picky at times, is very important. Students need to not only be able to conjugate based on who is doing the action, but they also need to be able to accurately express the tense of the action as well. Unfortunately, the best way to do that is drill, drill drill, but these are some ways to practice that don't feel so repetitive.
1. Dice tic-tac-doe
This is a favorite with my students. I generally pick the harder verbs of the verbs we are working on. They love having six games of tic-tac-toe going at once and the intensity definitely rises when students are trying to roll the die to get to a certain board.
This is a team game with a lot of activity and excitement. It requires teams to know the definition and the 6 different conjugations of any given verb. It particularly helps with those difficult verbs.. when teams keep getting avalanched over and over again, you can always bet they will remember the real conjugation when it comes time for the test.
I often teach songs with especially difficult verbs. It may not 100% teach the spellings, but it at least gives kids the right direction to think when it comes to the spelling. It also really helps with pronunciation of the conjugations and helps them realize that often, the je, tu, il/elle/on and ils/elles forms all sound the same.
Giving students only a specific set of letters and making a game/challenge out of them coming up with conjugations always helps to reinforce the spellings of different conjugations.
5. Whiteboard practice
Just throw together subjects and verbs on slides and voila... you have an activity for students to practice verb conjugation. I always set my slide up so it shows the subject and verb first, then on the click shows them the right answer. It's a great way to give them immediate feedback, which is important.
This game is great for getting students to either group conjugations of the same verb or different verbs of the same form (for example, all of the "tu" forms). When teaching multiple tenses, you can even put different tenses in there and have them group by subject or infinitive.
7. Category sorting
Like spoons, it helps students to group conjugations together. I will often put 20-30 conjugations in a list on a sheet. First, students must sort each conjugation into the correct infinitive. Then they must sort conjugations into the correct form (je/tu/etc). Sorting into the correct form helps students to see patterns of any given subject (for example: tu conjugations almost always have "s" or "x" for the ending).
While these work great for vocabulary, they can also work well for verbs too. It requires students to keep re-doing any of the problem areas but not anything they already have figured out.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love Conjuguemos. It's an awesome online tool for students to not only practice what they're learning (you can do just about anything: verbs, vocab, grammar, you name it), but to get immediate feedback. If a student is struggling with a particular verb or two, they can set it to just put those verbs up when it quizzes them.