Wednesday, May 15

Review of Spanish for You

Learning a foreign language in those early years is so much easier than learning it as an adult. I'm amazed at how quickly those little minds can fill with so much information. Experts have shown that children who begin listening to foreign languages at a young age are much more likely to be able to imitate a proper accent. But most families don't have an opportunity to listen to native accents very often.

Spanish for You Logo photo spanishforyoulog_zpsa3fadef7.jpgMy girls have been asking to learn Spanish and we had a fun opportunity to review a program called Spanish For You!, which includes audio of a native Spanish speaker reading the lessons. They have truly enjoyed it! Spanish For You offers two programs, Estaciones and Fiestas. A third program, Viajes, will be available in June. We opted to study Estaciones.

Even though I took 3 years of Spanish in school, I have no memory of it and didn't know until we started that Estaciones means Seasons. My girls have had a lot of fun tracking the weather in Spanish as they also learned the days of the week and the months. The book includes 5 lessons which are divided into 30 weeks for their grade level. These lessons are:

  1. Calendar and Weather
  2. Fall and School
  3. Winter
  4. Spring
  5. Summer 
I'd like to say that my old Spanish lessons came flooding back to me, but sadly, no. I learned right alongside the girls. The lessons include plenty of vocabulary, but students are gently and quickly introduced to conjugating verbs, learning the Spanish alphabet, and writing in Spanish. The program is designed to be taught 4 days per week for 24 weeks, but is easily adapted to any schedule. We prefer to do about 20 minutes each day.

Spanish for You - Estaciones photo spanishforyou-estaciones_zps3adcc14c.jpgAll of the programs available are for grades 3rd through 8th. There are 3 different grade levels in each package and they can all be taught to students together, so that the whole family can learn together. Each program helps students develop fluency and can be completed in any order, as each simply adds to the student's vocabulary and reinforces the grammar concepts taught in each book.

The Estaciones book is available as a soft-cover or as a downloadable PDF file. We opted for the file, which can be re-printed when I spill coffee on it. It can also be read on the Kindle, which I've yet to spill coffee on. The entire package includes;
  • Estaciones book
  • Lesson guide PDF (sample)
  • Downloadable PDF worksheets for grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 (sample)
  • MP3 Audio version of the book
  • MP3 file of a native Spanish speaker reading the lessons
  • Flashcards and other activities (such as memory and bingo) in PDF format
My girls opted to draw their own flashcards on index cards and they have really enjoyed quizzing each other on their new words.

Things I love:
  • I love that I can include multiple age groups together for lessons. 
  • I love that they aren't spending years building a vocabulary and then slowly learning to put it together. It is a much more natural method. Within weeks, they are forming sentences about the weather and about activities, such as drawing a picture of the weather. 
  • I love that I didn't have to speak a lick of Spanish to teach it. I was able to learn with them.
  • I love that my girls have a lot of fun learning with it.
  • I love that the audio with a native accent helping me not butcher the pronunciation.
Things I'd change:
Though the quality is excellent, this is apparently a newer program because the creator of the program, Debbie Arnett ended up changing a couple things, such as the way the files downloaded after a purchase and the arrangement of some of those files for easier use. Debbie has taught Spanish for 14 years and is eager to make this a program families can enjoy, so she is quick to respond to feedback. The only other improvements I would like to see are:
  • page numbers in the printable files (my printer likes to spit pages out across the room sometimes)
  • one file to open and print for each book rather than printing lesson by lesson
  • separate answer key file to print rather than lessons and keys printing together
  • more time between phrases in the audio.
The last one wasn't really a problem since I was able to just hit pause as we followed along. And if it were slower, someone else could just as easily complain that they wanted it faster. Also, the page numbers imply the lessons need done in a certain order, but really, you can follow your students interests with this program and jump into the book wherever you want.

The program takes 24-30 weeks to complete, unless you are slow like me. We like to stretch things out a bit. You can purchase grade levels packages (3-4, 5-6, 7-8) for $39.95 each, or you can purchase a package that includes lesson plans for all grades for $64.95. For a classroom setting, an optional teacher lesson book is available for $12.95. I did not review this optional book, but I can definitely see this program being ideal for a co-op setting since it covers multiple age groups so well. There are also many games that Debbie shares for free for anyone interested.

Be sure to see what other Crew Members think of this great Spanish Curriculum!


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