Getting Your Elementary or Middle School Aged Children Started Learning Spanish

Guest post by Debbie Annett
Author of Spanish for You! – A Simple, Effective, Affordable Curriculum for Grades 3-8

You CAN give the GIFT of language. Parent or teacher, Spanish speaker or not, YOU ARE
ABLE to accomplish more than just vocabulary learning with your elementary and middle
school students. It just takes knowing a little about the language learning process and how to
do it.

The Language Learning Process
Language learning takes time and practice, much like learning to play an instrument or a sport.
Becoming fluent takes many years, unless your student(s) is in an immersion situation where
he/she is using Spanish with Spanish speakers for several hours every day.

However, most parents would like their children to become fluent by the time they are adults.
This means that you have many years to accomplish the goal. So, get your students started in
elementary or middle school. You can work on things steadily, over time, in a non-stressful

If you are not a language teacher, knowing something basic about the language learning
process will help you should you decide to get started on your own. You can do this!

We can break language down into 2 elements, receptive and expressive. Receptive refers to
the language we receive and need to understand. That would be listening and reading.
Expressive refers to the language we express and use to make ourselves understood. That
would be speaking and writing.

When we first learn a language we learn the receptive piece. Think of babies learning their
first language. They come to understand all that they receive from those speaking around
them and slowly begin to express themselves. First they say words, then phrases, then more
over time. They learn the receptive piece first and then develop the expressive piece.

When teaching a language you want to provide students opportunities to read and listen, and
then slowly get them to write and speak. Their EXPRESSIVE language should be encouraged
first as words, then phrases, and then sentences.

And know this – speaking is the most difficult piece. Spoken fluency is the icing on the cake.
And that will come after many years of steady practice and study. YOU, as the parent or
teacher, are getting them started and preparing them for higher level learning in high
school and maybe college.

How to Do It
You know some basics about the language learning process. Now, how do you get started?

First, choose a curriculum/product that is:
1. easy to use – meaning it has a lesson guide or something you follow
2. can be used by a Spanish teacher or not, or for self-study
3. provides lots of audio, so you can hear what is in the book – important!
4. provides lots of self-checking practice
5. provides a variety of practice activities to develop listening, speaking, reading, and
writing skills
6. provides opportunities to practice with others – this means the product can be used by
individuals AND has the flexibility to be used with others.
7. does more than just teach vocabulary and phrases. You do not want your student(s) to
just memorize some things. You want your student(s) to learn how the language works.
8. economical – this is not a must, BUT there are some good ones out there that provide all
the above and accomplish A LOT without the big price tag! (Ahem, Spanish for You! is one!)

Second, decide on your approach and schedule.
1. If your approach is to create a class or be teaching in a school, then decide how much
time you have each week to devote to Spanish and how much outside of class you want
students to practice. For example, you might schedule a class 1 hour each week with 4 days
of homework, 10-20 min. each day. OR one class for 1/2 hour a week with 2 to 4 days of
homework, 10-15 min. each day, etc.

2. If your approach is at home for self-study, then decide how much time you have each
week to devote to Spanish. You may schedule your efforts 20 minutes 3 times a week, OR 30
minutes twice a week, etc.

If you “fall off the wagon” occasionally do not fret. Just pick back up and keep going. You want
to look at the big picture. If you have kept things going steadily 80% of the time, for example,
things will be fine. It is when you “fall off the wagon” most of the time that you may not get

(A side note – It is ok to take summers off, or holiday time off. You will not ruin your efforts. During
summers it helps to do a little review here and there, just to stimulate the brain and keep those
connections going.)

As you can see, it is VERY possible for you to begin your student(s) learning Spanish even if
you do not have experience with the language or teaching. You just need to know some
basics about the language learning process and how to do it. You just need to work steadily
over time. Do that, and you will have something of value.

If you would like to learn more about the Spanish for You! curriculum, please visit us at

I wish you all the best in your language learning efforts!


I’ll have more to say about Mathletics on another day, but we love this website and how easily it motivates kids to learn and master their basic facts. I have lots to share about it’s many great resources, but for now, you can check it out for yourself.
Coming next week Mathletics will be hosting the American Math Challenge to help drum up some enthusiasm for math. Kids enjoy competition, interacting with kids from around the world, and having the potential to win! Follow the links below to get a jump on the American Math Challenge today.
American Math Challenge: October 16 & 17th, 2012
The American Math Challenge 2012

It’s FREE and FUN, for all schools and students, K-12


FULL COMPETITION EVENT ON October 16-17th, 2012

Game On! Click for video

Schools and students across America are currently registering to compete in the 2012 American Math Challenge!

Will YOUR school or class be on this year’s Hall of Fame?

REGISTER TODAY and get your students

It’s FUN, it’s completely FREE and there are prizes to be won!


1. Register your e-mail at  We recommend using a personal email address for the fastest and easiest registration.
(You only need one registration to secure a spot for your whole school!)

2. Wait for a confirmation link via e-mail. Click this link to let us know your registration is valid.

3. You will be taken back to our site to enter all of your school information (or, for students/parents, student information.)

Once your school is registered, you will get a SCHOOL ADMIN login to upload any number of students, classes, and teachers to your Registered School Account

Parents/Students registering on their own will receive a login for use on after October 8.

Students will compete in the American Math Challenge using Mathletics, an online Math program.
They will be tackling adaptive curriculum-based math questions and competing against other real student peers in timed mental math showdowns—all for great prizes!

Questions? Email us here!

See you at the Challenge!

The American Math Challenge Team
3P Learning USA

Brought to you by the award-winning MATHLETICS

West Suburban Home School Band

From: The Patriots

West Suburban Home School Band

Summer is the best time (albeit not the only time) to think about
joining the award winning West Suburban Home School Band. We always need
new students to learn and develop, replacing those who graduate or move

Membership has grown from 46 students/26 families in 2001, to 160+
students/100+ families in 2011-2012. Students are home schoolers,
elementary through high school age. There are four band levels to
accommodate those with NO MUSICAL TRAINING whatsoever to those with
advanced experience and abilities. We also accept both experienced and
beginner parents. Auditions are required for all levels but Cadets.

Those who wish to audition for Concert Junior, Concert Senior or
Symphonic level as part of the WSHSB Annual Summer Chair Competition
must submit an audition video by August 9, 2012. AUDITIONING FOR A
also be limits in instrument sections within each band level. The
Concert Season roster is set by the end of August. However, once the
audition video deadline has past you are still able to join by
submitting an audition video with the following understanding. You will
be placed in the band where we feel you fit best and you will be at the
end of the roster for your instrument. THOSE WHO DO NOT SUBMIT AN
MEMBER OF THE BAND. Supplemental Senior and Symphonic audition materials
were released on July 11, 2012. However, it is still not too late to act
to give those who will need to audition, time to prepare.

AS SOON AS you consider joining contact the director, Karen Borow,
630-231-6155, and visit our website,
<> .

Summer Sign Camps

Always Feel Connected’s Summer Camps!!!

Join us this summer for some exciting and fun summer camps!  At these camps you will be enriched in deaf culture and history while learning vocabulary, games and at least one song in sign language!  At the end of the week the kids will perform the song for their parents.  There are 2 different weeks to choose from.  Choose one week or both!  I hope to see you there!

Where:  737 Hamilton Way, Batavia

Time:     9:00am – 12:00pm

Age:      5 yrs – up

Cost:     $75 per child

A)   June 11th – June 15th

B)   July 9th – July 13th

If you are interested please call 630-479-9094 or email @ or register on line

Summer Enrichment classes in Des Plaines

Received this from Amanda Davey, the Dean of Students at Science & Arts Academy:

Summer Program for Homeschoolers

We are a private, independent day school for gifted learners Preschool – 8th grade located in Des Plaines, IL just two blocks off of I294.

Over the 20 years we have been in existence, we have had many homeschooling families attend our gifted Summer Program.  The class sizes are small, the teachers are trained to work with advanced learners and passionate about the unique classroom subject matter, and the kids all have a love for learning.

This affordable, interesting option for in-depth learning has always resonated with parents of our homeschool constituents.

The best way to take a look at our summer program is to visit our website.

Science & Arts Academy – 847-827-7880
For the brochure:

Used Curriculum Sale in Elk Grove

Another book sale coming up this week:

The big event of the year!!! Our annual used (and some new) curriculum sale!

Tuesday, April 24
Elk Grove Village Library (google for directions)

We have a full house planned.
This promises to be one of our largest curriculum sales in years. Lots to choose
from!! Bring cash in SMALL denominations to make purchases. Doors open at
7:00pm. Admission is free!

Beacon is a Christian support group for parents who home educate their children.
Our membership is open to any home schooling family for support. Our vision is
to help homeschool families achieve their vision. What we offer is a DREAM –
Discussion, Resources, Education, Activities, Mentoring.

Learning Vine Open House

If you are interested in The Learning Vine Academic Program for homeschoolers, you are invited to attend their Information Meeting this Friday, February 10,  at 1:30 PM in room 2A/B (lower level) of Community Christian Church on Emerson Lane in Naperville.

They will be presenting an overview of what their academic program offers and have time for Q and A. This meeting is meant mainly for families who have not enrolled previously in the program.

To learn more about the program online, please see their website:

Steve Demme coming to the area

Next week! This ICHE sponsored event is coming soon, and if you can’t attend in person you can register to attend online. Steve Demme is an incredible speaker and well worth taking the time out of your weekend to give a listen.

Please join ICHE and CHOSEN, the Freeport area support group, in welcoming
Steve Demme to the greater Rockford area!

Steve will be sharing his unique and encouraging insights on family life.  Steve and his wife have raised four sons by God’s grace.  He has worked as a math teacher and a pastor, but many know him as the author and founder of Math-U-See.

The desire of Steve’s heart is to see a balanced bilblical view of the family restored.  We are very excited to hear from a man who has seen first hand how our homes and families can be impacted by the love and grace of our Savior.

Check out their website for all of the details about this family discipleship seminar.

This event is an exciting first for ICHE.
If you cannot attend in person, we are offering a live webstream of the event!

To view the live webstream, register online and check the box that says live stream at the end of the registration form.  You will receive an email shortly before the event with instructions on accessing the website and video stream.

Review and Giveaway: A Mile in His Shoes

For kids that struggle with special needs or whose parents find them trying to manage a diagnosis they might sometimes feel trapped into what society “allows” them to do. Now and then someone enters that scene and sees only the potential and can bring hope and opportunity where none had existed before.

When a coach of a struggling farm team stumbles on a teenage boy with an amazing pitching arm, he doesn’t let Asperger’s blind his eye to the potential in this young man. The father unwillingly lets his son go, not ready to release his protection over the unpredictable nature.

My family enjoyed the story of this bright boy that just needed a chance to shine. The story is inspiring and engaging, the actors believable, and the ending satisfying.

It could have done without the discussion of the difference between a “player” and a “playah,” although it stayed pretty innocent. And, the father’s protective role was portrayed as anger-filled at times. But, in the end the family is intact and healthy and the good guys win. A good, clean movie that we were able to watch as a family.

For more info check out their links:

And, you to can get a copy of this movie for free! I have the privilege of hosting a giveaway:
To be entered in a giveaway for this family film, please leave a comment on this post. For a second entry, share about this giveaway through some social media outlet and come back and leave a second comment. Contest open to US continental residents only. Make sure I have your email address so I can contact you as well.
The contest will close on January 29th in the evening.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or

services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance

with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the

Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Cooper and Me

Many children know that feeling of getting separated from their parents for even a few seconds and how that panic quickly sets in. They look around frantically hoping to see a familiar face and they feel suddenly LOST!

Monique and Alexa Peters wanted to help kids know what to do in that situation and created a booked that is also a teaching tool to prepare a child in case they ever do find themselves really lost.

Cooper and Bella are two pups that run out into the snow for a great time of playing and sledding, but before they know it they realize that they have wandered away from familiar territory. The story has a safe ending, but allows kids to be an observer in a sometimes scary situation. This opens up the opportunity for talking with our kids about safe practices — know your identifying information and know where and how to find help.

At the close of the book they even have questions to prompt the conversation and go beyond just a simple review of the story (which is a good habit and skill, too).

I love that this book is a cute story for kids to hear, with rhyming that they often enjoy as well (some is a bit forced, but does flow well). And, it goes beyond mere entertainment to teach an important life skill that even a young child can begin to learn.

For more information check out their links:

Cooper & Me Winter Adventure

Also, please note that $1 of every Winter Adventure book sold will go to advance research & treatment of pancreatic cancer, via the Lustgarten Foundation (

Also, our friends at Cooper & Me will be offering an EXCLUSIVE DEAL FOR YOU:
Make any purchase of $25 or more at and get FREE SHIPPING now through December 15.

But that’s not all! 🙂 I am able to give a copy away to one reader, so if you would like to enter to win a copy of this book for a special little child in your life please leave a comment here with an email where I can get a hold of you. You may enter an additional time by sharing about this giveaway on another social media or even email and come back and leave a second comment saying you did so. I will pull from all the entrants on Tuesday night, December 13 and will notify the winner at that time. Please leave a comment and share this great giveaway with your friends!

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products orservices mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”