Monday, May 13, 2013

{Crew Review} Spanish For You!

 

Spanish seems to be the language of the year for us!  I’ve been wanting to teach the kids Spanish for years, but could never make a decision about what to use.  With Levi’s recent introduction to Spanish being so successful, I thought Luke should have a shot at it, too, and I jumped up and down and begged “pretty please” at the chance to review Spanish for You!’s  multi-grade product Estaciones (Seasons).

This is really a different twist on teaching Spanish, and should be a really nice alternative for families with a wide age span of children (written for grades 3 through 8 but Levi could have definitely participated more than he did) and/or those who are interested in teaching Spanish in a co-op environment with multi-aged students.  Instead of beginning where most language classes start (Hola!), this course takes a themed approach at teaching vocabulary, grammar and reading/writing. 

For this review, I received the grade 3-8 package ($64.95). Included in my set:

  • A soft cover book (click here to see samples)– this book has the grammar and vocabulary that your students will be learning for each weekly lesson.  For each lesson, you’ll see the main vocabulary content written in Spanish with English translations and a drawn picture (simple, child-like drawings which are pleasant) to help visually cue your students.

spanish textbook 1

  • 3 sets of PDF  lesson guides.  The course is a multi-grade program.  Still, grades are split up into three pairs:  3rd and 4th graders can learn the entire course in 30 weeks.  Grades 5 and 6 are paired together as are 7th and 8th.  Each of these two grade level pairs can finish the course in 24 weeks.

  

  • a PDF file of worksheets.  These are  divided into folders by grade level sets.
  • two mp3 audio files:  the author reads the entire soft-cover book and there is a native Mexican Spanish speaker who reads it as well.  
  • PDF files to make flashcards for practice and games.  Vocabulary words are simply illustrated by the author’s daughter, Amanda! (Cute, child-friendly drawings).

If you’d rather not purchase the entire grade 3-8 lesson plans, you can purchase the smaller grade ranges: each two grade range (3rd/4th, 5th/6th, and 7th/8th) is $39.95.

How We Used This:  The soft-backed book has five lessons in it, and you’ll complete this in either 24 or 30 weeks (again, depending on grade levels you are teaching). Here’s the Table of Contents:

ToC Spanish

The soft-back textbook is a resource for you, and serves as the base for what your student will learn.   At the 3rd/4th grade level, Luke spends 5 weeks studying the first lección (lesson) with a review week before starting the next lección.  Grades 5/6 spend three weeks on the first lección with two review weeks.

Lesson Titles are: (1) The Calendar and Weather (2) Fall and School (3) Winter (4) Spring and (5) Summer.  Also in the book is pronunciation guides and common words, phrases and commands.

Each lección has several parts:  a vocabulary section, verb section, and grammar section.  All the vocabulary and verbs have something to do with the theme, and the grammar, of course, extends beyond the theme to help students learn the basics of Spanish.  In this unit, grammar concepts covered are:

asking questions
personal pronouns
using adverbs such as always and never
describing with colors
tener phrases

Once you print our the grade specific lesson plans you need, you’ll want to find the worksheets and vocabulary flashcards that correspond to the weeks you are using.  For this review period, I printed out the first four weeks of lesson plans + worksheets + flashcards.  This is what my pile of papers looked like for only one grade level:


I am drawn to visually appealing curriculum – meaning, I like boxes and lines and graphics that help me visually organize and orient myself to salient information.  {Yes, I’m sure I have issues.}  So, I will admit that I found the lesson plans to be a little overwhelming for me.  Outside of some bold print, I found I needed to bring out a highlighter to draw attention to the worksheets I needed to print out;  I also found that I got lost (in a visual sort of way) with the daily lesson plans.  The information just didn’t stand out for me, but this is me.

Once I got over the text-heavy lesson plans, Luke and I had a lot of fun learning Spanish together!  It was very refreshing to start Spanish beyond the very basics of language learning.  It was refreshing to have Luke learn about telling the weather in Spanish and charting it with pictures and sentences:

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It was nice to hear him say something other than “Hola. ¿Como estas?"

One of the first things he learned was the days of the weeks, months of the year, and various sorts of weather.  He really did very well with the new information, even if we did not have specific lessons on each and every phrase or word – like knowing the literal translation for words such as “hay” or “hace.”  I am thinking that by learning phrases this way, he is getting a better glimpse of an immersion experience in Spanish than by learning all the grammatical rules.  In this way, it is a   more natural language learning experience than a typical middle or high school Spanish course.

Photo 1Luke made a whole bunch of flashcards – and even got industrious and created two sets so he and Levi could play Go Fish and Memory Match (I don’t think you ever grow out of playing those two games – at least I hope my boys never do!).  Although Luke had his own ideas about games he wanted to play to help him learn his vocabulary words, the lesson plans and soft cover text offer many suggestions for using games to help with learning.  Other unique ways of practicing new language skills included:

  • playing Símon Dice (Simon Says)
  • Making posters and writing in Spanish
  • Copy work in Spanish
  • Drawing pictures of Spanish phrases

One of the components of the program we haven’t really used is the audio versions.  Since I tend to not use my laptop for this subject (I printed out all the materials I needed), I do not often have the mp3 recording handy – I really should put them on my phone or the iPad so that Luke can listen to native Spanish to develop an ear for pronunciation.  I do think having the audio is a great resource –-especially if you don’t feel confident with your pronunciation.

My recommendations & thoughts: Luke and I have really enjoyed using this product!  He is loving Spanish, and asks to do it – especially once he figured out he could play games with his flashcards!  If you have a student who seems to have a knack for languages (as Levi seems to), it would be easy to have a slightly younger student tag along (he’s a first grader with advanced reading abilities).   As a teacher, I enjoy that we are learning the basics of Spanish from a different starting point that is engaging and encourages conversations (especially with the constantly changing New England spring weather).

Click to read more reviews about the Estaciones as well as Fiestas themed Spanish for You! materials at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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