"We started off with a bit of conversation talking about what the student did over the weekend, which was a great way to encourage him to use his speaking skills. He needs more practice in this area, so for future sessions, we'll increase our speaking time in order to get him more comfortable speaking in Spanish. I encouraged him to use the preterite and the imperfect in his description of his weekend, which was a great segue into our lesson for today about the imperfect. We reviewed the use of the preterite and irregular verb conjugations for that tense and did an activity where he told me a sentence for each regular and irregular verb he conjugated. I can tell his confidence in his speaking and conjugating abilities is increasing bit by bit, which is why we're going to continue with these exercises.
We next moved on to the difference between the preterite and the imperfect and its use for different types of descriptive situations in the past. We're going to have to review this for our next session, as there are quite a few more scenarios for use of the imperfect than there are for the preterite. After this grammar review, I had him conjugate the verb endings for -ar/-er/-ir verbs, and explain to me again when each type of verb was utilized in what type of situation.
Our second last activity was to read and discuss the use of the preterite and imperfect in a passage from "La Casa de Los Espiritus," a novel by author Isabel Allende about a Chilean family. He understood some of the passage, and we went through the rest of the passage and talked about the words and sections he wasn't familiar with. I tried to highlight that, even though he didn't know all the words in the passage, he could still get the general story line - something that I pointed out is a helpful strategy for tests - and not get tripped up or psyched out by complicated words. I'm also trying to emphasize that, if he doesn't know a word, he has resources at his disposal (like a Spanish language dictionary I bring to sessions) that he can rely on before switching back to English to ask for help. We went through the passage and circled all the uses of the imperfect and underlined the uses of the preterite, discussed why it was that the particular verb tense was utilized, and what surrounding words in the passage were clues as to what kind of verb tense was going to be used.
Finally, he took an imperfect vs. preterite quiz at the end to reinforce which verb tense is used in what type of situation. He did very well and only missed 3/20 questions. We talked about why he missed those 3 points (all dealing with confusion over whether imperfect vs. preterite).
Next session, we're going to review preterite and imperfect and focus more on speaking and incorporating the grammar we've covered to date. He requested 3 more online sessions for this week, which we're going to do from 8-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
I'm looking forward to continuing to work with him, as he's remembering a lot more Spanish than he realizes!"