Spanish SER and ESTAR
This is an introductory lesson about how to use SER and ESTAR in Spanish.
Image of Mexican Flag taken by Mike McCullough, author.
This lesson teaches students how to use the verbs "ser" and "estar" correctly in sentences. Since they both mean "to be", students must learn which verb to use in certain situations.
- Time frame: 30 minutes
- Format: face-to-face
Background for Teachers
To teach this lesson, you will need an understanding of the verbs "SER" and "ESTAR".
You will need knowledge about rules that govern the use of the two verbs. See the attached Word document with rules and examples.
Here are two websites that are for review before teaching:
Here is a link to a video of me teaching the entire lesson:
Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes
- Students will be able to translate sentences that use SER and ESTAR in them.
- Students will be able to create their own sentences using the verbs SER and ESTAR.
- Students will correctly use the verb SER, writing one sentence per explained rule.
- Students will correctly use the verb ESTAR, writing one sentence per explained rule.
Step 2 - Planning Instruction
Student Background Knowledge
- Prior to this lesson, students will need to have an understanding of basic Spanish sentence structure. They need to know how to conjugate regular verbs.
Step 3 - Instruction
This lesson covers this Utah standard: "Learning Indicator NM. IC. 4 I can make some simple statements in a conversation." Specifically, I can tell what things are, where things are, and what they are like.
Start the lesson by playing the first video on this Google Site page:
Show them the conjugation charts for both verbs (See "ser estar chart" attached file)
Explain all of the rules for Ser and Estar by using the attached document "Ser and estar rules examples". As you show the document, give multiple examples of each rule as you would use them in English. For example, you can focus a lot of time on the Estar rule #2 by sharing many examples like these:
Feelings: (pick a student and have them think of their pet) She is happy right now. (Then tell a student that her pet died). She is sad. (Then I tell her I was lying about the pet dying) Now she is mad. (Feelings are quick to change)
Health: I am sick today. I am fine now. (Health is quick to change)
Condition: The watch is broken. The watch is fine. I am busy. (Conditions are quick to change)
Do this for each rule, and have students take down notes on the ideas you share.
Here is a link to a video of me teaching the entire lesson: https://youtu.be/Uc_yupQraPU
This activity can take 30 minutes or more.
Put the students in groups of two. Have them create Spanish sentences using all of the different rules from their notes. They should have 11 sentences total. 9 sentences with SER, and 2 sentences with ESTAR. After you have given them time to finish (or set a specific time), share random student papers on the overhead and ask the class if the sentences are correct. You must have previously set up an environment in the class where kids feel OK to be wrong and to learn. This activity can take 30 minutes or more.
Have the students use Chromebooks to take a short quiz.... https://sites.google.com/granitesd.org/mikesportfolio/serestar-quiz. At the end, check for patterns in the wrong answers and reteach if necessary.
Step 4 - Assessments
If you want to extend the lesson or use this lesson to cover multiple days in the unit, you can also use these assessments:
- Students will be informally assessed by using this website: https://personal.colby.edu/~bknelson/SLC/ser_estar.html The teacher will state the sentence, and the students will show their answers by writing them on individual white boards and holding them up. Judging by how many missed the example, the teacher may reteach certain principles or give more examples.
- This is not a formal assessment, but rather an assessment of overall understanding of day one of the topic.
- Students will also create their own sentences, presenting them orally in front of the class. This will be presented to them as a trial and error session. I will ask them to create a sentence using one of the rules they feel like they understand the least. That way they will feel comfortable if they make mistakes and everybody will learn at the same time.
- As another way of using oral practice, I will make up random sentences and make errors on purpose once in a while to see if they understand the concept. They can get points for correctly picking out my correct and incorrect answers.
- Have students fill out this Google doc about what they learned about SER and ESTAR today:
- Do the Listening Excercises with SER and ESTAR at this Google site:
- Have students take the following Ser versus ESTAR quiz.