In the preliminary steps of learning another language, we usually learn how to make small talk, describe things, make basic requests, and express likes and dislikes – all useful skills to get by in situations where target-language communication is a necessity. We communicate and narrate about the concrete and articulate our wishes and desires for ourselves, but not for others.
However, as we move onto more complex grammar structures and higher-order thinking, we realize that, by employing other moods and tenses, we can make profound value judgments and express our opinions and thoughts about things outside of our own lives. This is where the subjunctive mood comes in. So, what is the subjunctive mood? As you can see below, the subjunctive mood finally allows us to express:
Sounds exciting? Not really… (Well, to me it is, but…) Is it tricky? Yes. But being able to employ the subjunctive mood effectively offers students the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills in the target language. So, how do you reinforce the importance of the subjunctive and make it relevant in context?
I had the students study “-ismos”… So, what’s an “-ismo”? Basically, most words in English that end in “-ism”, end in “-ismo” in Spanish. Words like nationalism, pacifism, utilitarianism, populism, racism, etc. are “-ismos”. Students were asked to:
- Choose an “-ismo” that interested them on which they could base a strong or impassioned argument for or against
- Define it in their own words
- Analyze it
- Identify both positive and negative aspects it
- Formulate (12) declarations/value judgments that showed their (moral) position by addressing their:
Wishes (for others)
Emotions (regarding the actions of others)
Requests/Recommendation (for others)
- Create a professional, visually-appealing infographic
Everyone knows how much I LOVE infographics! Students could use any format they wished: paper, poster, www.canva.com, www.venngage.com, www.visme.co, www.easel.ly.com, www.piktochart.com, https://infogr.am/, etc.) I was really impressed with the results and learned a lot about how my students viewed some heavy social issues and timely political trends. Here are a few samples: