Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spanish For You

Spanish for You Logo photo spanishforyoulog_zpsa3fadef7.jpg

I had the privilege of reviewing the Spanish for You! program developed by Debbie Annet.  There are currently two packages available to learn Spanish language centered around a particular theme - Fiestas (parties) and Estaciones (seasons).  I received a physical copy of the Fiestas program.    The text covers the five hispanic celebrations of La fiesta de Cumpleanos (The Birthday Party), El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Carnaval (Carnival),  Semana santa (Holy Week in Spain), and La feria de abril (April Fair).

I was working with a physical copy of the book but also received downloadable files that included lesson plans, audio files, and pdf worksheets used as an overview for the lessons.  The lesson plans are slightly modified for grade levels 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8.  The lesson guide is set up for 24-30 weeks of work depending on grade level and is set up for 4 days of work each week.  The author suggests doing the lessons in order because each lesson builds upon itself.  The reference section introduces students to the Spanish alphabet including a pronunciation guide, common words and phrases, commands, colors and numbers.  These activities are optional.   There are reinforcement suggestions for learning the new vocabulary that is included in each lesson.  Finally, the author provides some background information on each celebration that students will study in the lessons.

You can purchase the curriculum for grades 3-8 for either themed package for $64.95.
If you want to purchase individual grades levels for grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, they are $39.95 each.
A 4 week trial theme package - Viajes (travels) is available for grades 5-8 for $9.99.
A 6 week trial theme package - Viajes (travels) is available for grades 3-4 for $12.99.
These two packages are ebooks but will shortly become full packages (24 weeks for grades 5-8 and 30 weeks for grades 3-4) in June 2013.

Lesson plan packages are available for the Fiestas program for each grade level ($12.95 - $14.95).
Other lesson plans and other thematic packages are being developed.

Each lesson in the Fiestas package explores the celebration by introducing the student to twelve vocabulary words related to the theme, four verbs, and grammar.  I am a huge fan of curriculum that is laid out in a logical format.  It helps the teacher and student follow a predictable plan for appropriating difficult material.  The information wasn’t too much to grasp at one time and my students walked away with usable information from the very first lesson.  The author includes a lesson guide to help you know what to do each week. 

All of my children have some Spanish language knowledge and all except my high school student sporadically work on these Spanish language skills.  I was ecstatic to have a curriculum that brought us all to the table to work on these skills together.  I started by testing the kids on the common words and phrases listed in the reference section.  We use many of these phrases in our everyday language so they did well on my quiz but a few of the phrases were new to us.  I gave them a few days to study the list.  I used the phrases during conversation as we went about our day.  I used the pdf worksheet a few days later as a final “test” on this list. 

After this, we moved on to Lesson 1.  Each kid was given 12 index cards to write down the new vocabulary in Spanish. I wrote them on a personal dry erase board giving them a chance to guess what the word meant before telling them the English translation to write on the back of the card along with a small picture to remind them of the word’s meaning.  They guessed many correctly.  Of course they knew each word was related to a birthday party as that was the lesson’s theme and many of the words sound like their English counterpart. 

Next I introduced the four verbs, two of which they already knew.  This made it easy to immediately practice the verbs with the new vocabulary right away.  Finally, we listened to the audio file repeating the words after the speaker.  The next few days I consciously used the words in our daily conversation as a reinforcement tool and I gave them time to review the flashcards.  Our around the table lesson time included filling out the pdf worksheet on vocabulary and introducing the grammar lessons for conjugating the four verbs they learned.  We verbally practiced these new conjugated verbs with the vocabulary we’d learned.  Because of these daily around the table lessons my girls got interested in looking at Spanish language programs trying to figure out the bits and pieces from the vocabulary they knew.  I’ll say that is a great result of using this program as a family.

As another practice tool I wrote all the verbs they’d learned to date and placed them on the back of their bedroom door.  Next to the verbs I put the verb endings for first, second, and third person to help them remember how to properly conjugate.  They seem to have the most difficulty with remembering who is being spoken to based on the ending being used. 

We really enjoy working in this curriculum together.  The only difficulty I found was knowing which pdf worksheet to use after we finished a lesson and which audio files went with the lesson I was using.  Perhaps listing the files with page numbers would help.  The author has reorganized the files by grade level and lesson number so this difficulty shouldn’t be a problem for a purchaser of this program now. 

At the time of this review we are still working through the lessons and will complete them to the end.  My husband was born in Panama and lived there many years in his childhood.  My in-laws are fluent Spanish speakers so my kids have a personal interest in learning the language.  I believe Spanish For You! is laying a solid foundation for high school level Spanish study in the future.  For my high schooler, it is a great overview and builds upon the skills she’s learned in another Spanish language program.

One final suggestion I have for making this program even better is to offer a bundle to purchase all the themed packages together for a discounted price. 

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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