Three Tips for teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture

Do you feel confident about teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture?  I didn’t the first time.  Or the second time.  I wish I had had the resources and some helpful tips to make the ride less bumpy.

If this is your first or second time teaching AP Spanish, I hope I can make the experience less stressful and help your students to succeed with the following three tips for teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture:

AP Spanish Language and Culture

  1. The Listening Part of the Test

  • The listening portion of the test is the most difficult part for non-native and non-heritage speakers. Before playing the audio source, pre-teach the different accents and have students repeat the words pronouncing them the same way as the native speakers of that particular country.
  • That way, students will be more apt to hear and understand the words spoken in the audio. Show them on the screen how the “S” is omitted in some countries, how the, “C” and, “Z” are pronounced in Spain, the, “ll” is pronounced in Argentina, etc.  Then, read portions of the script together out loud in the accent of the speaker.  Students need to be familiar with all types of accents because every year the speakers are from a different country and there’s no way to predict which accent students will hear.
  • Also, play the audio in portions, stopping and repeating sections, especially in the beginning. Otherwise, students will be overwhelmed when they don’t understand anything.  Tell students it is normal not to understand.  That will put their minds at ease. I told them even I had difficulty understanding some audio because of unfamiliar accents, background noise or bad quality of audio.



  1. Native and Heritage Speakers

  • Enlist the help of the heritage and native speakers asking questions such as, “¿Cómo se dice esta palabra en tu país?  ¿Cómo dicen Uds. eso?” Make sure to point out at the beginning of the year that Spanish is spoken in 21 countries and they all speak it differently.  That doesn’t mean that one way is correct and another is incorrect.  Show them a myriad of synonyms for one word, several of which they have probably never heard.  (That establishes your credibility – important for non-native instructors.) Also point out that there is colloquial speech, acceptable for talking with our friends but unacceptable in formal writing.
  • Why is this important? Because, right at the beginning, you head off statements like, “That’s not how you say it.  You can’t speak Spanish!”  When I first began teaching AP Spanish, those comments eroded my confidence in my ability to teach the class and also caused the students to doubt me.  As I became more experienced, I realized the heritage speakers had much to learn.  By seeking their input, I showed respect for their language and culture and also made them aware, and respectful of language differences in different countries.
  1. La “conversación simulada”:

  • Tell students to underline key information, place, time, person with whom one is speaking.
  • Tell students to use an index card to cover up the lines of conversation below where they are so they don’t lose their place. If they are on the wrong line, the entire dialogue will be incorrect.
  • Have students work in pairs in the beginning. It’s less anxiety-producing and more fun for them.  I played the dialogue and one person practiced in front of his/her partner.  Then I played it again, and they switched places.  The third time, they separated and recorded their dialogues.  This practice also helped the students get familiar with the structure and requirements of the conversación simulada.

When the College Board overhauled the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam I had just spent a year working 12-hour days to create what I thought were awesome resources for AP Spanish.  I was NOT happy.

So, I began searching the internet for AP Spanish materials.  I was not going to do that all over again.  Alas, no such materials revealed themselves and I was back to square one.  One more year of 12-hour days.

Now the good news:  I have done all the work for you.  Why should you kill yourself while your colleagues who teach the lower levels go home at 3:00, leaving you to correct essays for two hours a day?  Only to leave an unfinished stack on your desk as, rubbing your throbbing temples, you haul your backpack out the door.

My AP Spanish Lesson Plans and Curriculum for an Entire Year  are kid-tested:  During the five years that I taught AP Spanish, all my students passed except one, and most of my students are non-Spanish speakers.  Also, all my students who skipped Spanish Four entirely, going straight from Spanish Three to AP Spanish passed the test, and with less time to prepare than students on a regular schedule, only 3.5 months on the block.

This curriculum meets all the Learning Objectives set forth by the College Board and is based upon the three modes of communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational and the six themes:  La belleza y la estética, la vida contemporánea, las familias y las comunidades, los desafíos mundiales, las identidades personales y públicas, y la ciencia y la tecnología.

More good news:  most schools will pay for this curriculum when they realize that it will help students succeed on the AP Spanish Test and may boost the school’s AP Scores.  Ask your school to pay for the AP Lesson Plans and Curriculum for an Entire Year and then sit back because all you have to do is correct papers.  No prep work for you!

Those lessons are based on Triángulo aprobado. I just posted the AP Spanish Lesson Plans and Curriculum for the new, updated version of Vista Higher Learning. Click on the following link to access them: AP Spanish Vista Higher Learning

Here are some sample PowerPoints from the curriculum

El ensayo persuasivo

El correo electrónico

La presentación oral

For more ideas, see
my Pinterest Boards.

Click on the image below
to get the FREE PowerPoint.

Click on image below to get your free PowerPoint.

Want to know more about the new AP Spanish Lesson Plans and Curriculum based on the updated versions of Vista Higher Learning AP Spanish Language and Culture Test Prep booklet and Temas? Click to watch the video below.

These lesson plans do everything for you.  All you have to do is teach, correct, and go home. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what a consumer has to say about them. Dowler Wheat talks about her how the lessons helped her in the video  below.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Jeff Gerencser

    I have to teach AP Spanish Culture and Language this year. My anxiety is going through the roof right now. My big roadblock right now is how to simply plan the start of the year and the overview that I need to provide. Did I mention that I’m already freaking out?
    -My students are almost all native speakers.
    -I have less time to provide content because of COVID and all remote instruction.
    -You have materials for Persuasive essays , but I believe the test now uses the Argumentative format instead? Have you amended this in you triangulo aprobado materials? ALSO, is Triangulo aprobado based in a text called Triangulo or is it based on the Temas book? My new school uses Temas.

    • admin

      Hi, Jeff: I felt the same way when I first had to teach AP Spanish and COVID makes it even more challenging. I think the Pacing Guide will help you. Here is the link: (Copy and paste it into your browser.)

      Just put your name and email and you will get in in your email.

      Yes, my PowerPoint and materials for the persuasive essay, now called the argumentative essay are updated.

      Wayside Publishing has the previous test-prep booklet, called “Triángulo aprobado” but no text book. Their new version is supposed to be a test-prep / textbook all in one and is called, “Triángulo apreciado.” It doesn’t have as many practices for each part of the test as Triángulo aprobado.

      Temas is published by Vista Higher Learning. They have a test-prep booklet and a textbook. If you would like the lesson plans that go with VHL test-prep booklet and Temas, here is the link: The lessons do everything for you, so it will relieve a lot of stress. The PowerPoints all have digital versions and I am in the process of converting all the student activities into digital. You will have continued access to the updated resources.

      If your budget is tight, I recommend buying the AP Spanish PowerPoints. Here is the link:

      Let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to help you.


  • Debra Irwin (Debbie

    Hello Angie,

    My name is Debbie Irwin (Debra). I am teaching AP Spanish this spring 2021 and our school is using the TEMAS AP Spanish Language and Culture textbook (2014 Vista Higher learning, Inc.) ISBN: 978-1-61857-222-6. I am interested in purchasing your AP lesson plan course because I have no clue on how to teach the AP course. I do have some questions though. I want to download the free DROPBOX App but I would like to know how much hard drive space your entire AP Spanish Culture and Language lesson plan packet requires.
    I hope to hear from you soon being that my course already started and I really need help ASAP.

    • Angie Sherbondy

      Hi, Debra: On my computer, the files are 843.7 MB. You can also access all the files in Google Drive. You can also upload them to your computer. Let me know if you have any other questions.


      • Debra Irwin (Debbie)

        Thank you for responding so quickly to my comment. Your website says that I need to have a DROPBOX account. Is that true? I have never used it but I can trying to get some basic training on it through our school ITRT. And when and if I need to sign up for the Free DROPBOX account, the 2 GB of free storage space should definitely be enough to store the 843.7 MB of files. That is good. How soon after I purchase the AP Spanish lesson plans packet will I receive the online materials? Also, I assume that the book is a hard copy and not an e-book, so will the book be shipped to me via mail and how soon can I get it? I live in Virginia.

        Thank you from a desperate NEW AP Teacher but who is also very close to retirement. I do not want my last few years of teaching to be so stressful due to this NEW AP course they gave me.


        • Angie Sherbondy

          Hi, Debra: No, you don’t need a Dropbox account. I need to change that in the description. I can send you all the files in WeTransfer and/or you can download them all from my store, one theme at a time. You will want the continuous lesson plans, though (not separated by theme) so I will send those to you in WeTransfer after purchase anyway.

          You will have to purchase the other materials on your own: Vista Higher Learning AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam Preparation booklet for each student, Temas textbook (if using, can be omitted), Repaso, and novels for students to read. The list of materials needed is included in the product description. Your school would normally buy the booklets and textbooks for the students. Most of what Temas has is already included in the curriculum so you can still teach the course without it.

          Let me know if you have any other questions. You can also email me at [email protected]


  • Ancatavi

    Hi, Angie. I started teaching AP Spanish last week, when our second semester started. We are using the new Temas and AP workbook and have access t the super site. I am afraid time will not be enough to cover all 6 temas and contexts. Are your lesson plans for a semester or a full school year? You mention Triangulo aprobado, do you include the material for that book or do I need to purchase the book? Thank you.

    • Angie Sherbondy

      Hi, Leonarda: Triángulo aprobado is the book published by Wayside Publishing. If you have Temas and the Vista Higher Learning books, you do not want to use Triángulo aprobado. It’s for the same course, but is a completely different test-prep booklet. The only other books you would need to purchase are a copy of “Repaso” for you and novels for the students. With “Temas” and the VHL test-prep booklet, you already have most of what you need.

      I taught AP Spanish on the block schedule, i.e., 90-minute class periods for 4 and a half months. (I say 4.5 because students had to take the exam before the class was finished. The class is really five months long and students continue to do activities but are not longer preparing for the test.)

      I sent you an email. Did you still want to talk via phone or Zoom?

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