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Posts Tagged ‘spanish speakers’

Getting Your Elementary or Middle School Aged Children Started Learning Spanish

November 17th, 2012

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
way.

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.

NO MATTER YOUR APPROACH WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU KEEP IT STEADY.
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
results.

(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
www.spanish-for-you.net.

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

TOS Crew Review — Speekee

January 21st, 2011

Speekee logo

“Adios . . . Adios . . . Adios, my amigo, adios.”

Brooke started it, and soon Nathan and Faith joined in. Blake (13 years old) groaned a bit and tolerated their jubilant singing on the way to gym and swim. Paige couldn’t help singing along even though she hasn’t really watched the videos with them.

And so, Speekee has infiltrated our home. The irresistible jingles and repetitive dialogue are really teaching my kids some basic Spanish, and they are liking it.

Speekee

Product: Speekee Spanish online learning videos

Details: An online Spanish learning program that includes videos, activity suggestions, and printable worksheets. Ten lessons in all to introduce a child to conversational Spanish.

Price: $7.50 per month

What we loved . . .

  • Foreign language without tears. We’ve tried so many foreign language program I could almost cry. Each one we either don’t learn from, get tired of, or just plain don’t like. Speekee has brought something new to our home — foreign language learning that kids love, and I do, too.
  • Full access. With the monthly fee you can watch and rewatch each video as much as you please. Your kids can watch on their own or as a group, with you or without. My kids did a little of all those arrangements. The printable worksheets can be printed out for as many of your kids as needed and you can even reprint their favorites to do more than once.
  • Likable characters. My kids enjoyed the mix of puppets and real people. The kids spoke clearly and didn’t seem overly scripted or fake. The puppets entertained while educating.
  • Immersion method. Speekee drops you right into the situations with Spanish speakers all around. There is the option of English subtitles which can be beneficial to some kids.
  • Nice accent. The actors all spoke Spanish well with a very natural pronunciation. It was easy to understand them and imitate their words.
  • Enjoyable pace. Not too fast, like some other adult immersion programs I have seen. And, not too slow or mundane like some that don’t seem to really help kids learn to converse. Speekee has a good balance of real life conversation and repetition to help a child learn new words without getting bored in the process.

Some considerations . . .

  • More for young kids.While anyone from preschool through adulthood could benefit from using Speekee, in our home it was more appreciated by the younger group. My 9 year old was okay with it, but it was the biggest hit with my 7 and 5 year olds.
  • Spain Spanish. Most of us in the United States would come in contact with Latin American Spanish rather than Spain Spanish. The accent varies slightly and some words and expressions are a bit different. You could think of it as the difference between our English and British English. We can definitely communicate together, but there will be a few differences. Most of the differences in Spanish I don’t think would make a big difference at the beginner level.
  • Needs repetition. Spanish will never be learned overnight. Kids will not likely watch the videos and instantly remember all the new phrases and songs taught in it. However, my kids did not mind watching the same videos more than once to cement the new vocabulary in their minds.
  • Helpful if parent watches along. While I was kind of hoping I could play the video and then go work with the older students on something I found that my younger kids absorbed and interacted the most with me right there. For example, Speekee would say, “Y tu?” and expect the kids to repeat the previous phrase. My kids didn’t understand that and were just sitting watching. Of course, they still picked it up and sang the songs with gusto throughout the day, but for them to get the most out of the video it is best to watch along with them.

Learning another language cannot start too young, and Speekee can be a great tool in drawing and keeping the attention of children as they learn Spanish.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Speekee as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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