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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spanish for You-A Mosaic Review

(How we put the digital download together on our own, along with using a recipe box for his flashcards-it does not come this way.)

Looking for an interesting, multi-level way to teach Spanish? One that uses files from a native Spanish speaker as well? One that was created to ease concerns for those worried about the 'flow' from elementary level Spanish to the high school level? 
Let me introduce you to Spanish for You, a curriculum recommended for those in grades 3-8. It can, however, be adapted for younger children with some creativity. For example, my 5 year old listened to the speaker along with her 12 year old brother. When he was practicing phrases, she practiced right along with him!  

Spanish for You was created to start children on the road to fluency in speaking, reading, writing and grammar. They learn everyday, useful vocabulary such as cultural words and familiar words; pronunciation by listening over time, verb conjugation, and grammar concepts--some which are found in a first year high school class according to the creator of the curriculum. This program uses the spiral method of learning-repetition and review. The material between books DO NOT spiral however, so they can start anywhere with any book. The spiraling is found within each book.

The 'Nitty Gritty':
  • First, pick a package. Fiestas and Estaciones packages are the only ones currently available for a 'complete' school year. Viajes is available as a 4-week trial with plans to be complete in June of 2013, according to the website for ordering. Each package has a 'theme'. Viajes is Travel, Fiestas is Celebrations, and Estaciones is Seasons.
  • Next, choose your grade level. You can buy the multi-level package to cover full grades 3-8, or split up into grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. Prices vary according to which package you pick. For example, a complete package for grade levels 3-8 is only $64.95. This is available in soft cover-the ebooks are only available for the trial packages at this time. Lesson plans are separate and cost anywhere from $12.95-$14.95 each and are split up by grade, just as the packages are.  At this time, only Fiestas has the lessons plans available for purchase. However, the website does say that Estaciones lesson plans will be available by May 2013 which is just around the corner and in time for the new school year! The lesson plans are PDF downloads.
  • What is included? From the website: A softcover book, 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades that you need (these give you the assignments for each grade broke up into a 4 day week), self-checking worksheets in PDF form, audio files of entire book (with bonus audio of native speaker reading the whole book), and flashcards/activity pictures available as a PDF download.
  • Recommended supplies (not included): colored cardstock, dry erase cards/board/markers, index cards, dice, bingo markers, and board game pieces such as people. This truly is a multidimensional learning experience. Many 'fun' game type suggestions are included, as well as activities for further learning and games on the website.
  • Able to go at child's own pace. The curriculum is set up for 24 actual weeks, but can be spread out to 27-30 depending upon child's level of understanding and ability.

We were given the complete Estaciones Digital Curriculum Package, grades 3-8, for review. I primarily used this with my 12 year old, 6th grade son. However, many times, as you can see below, his 5 year old sister wanted to learn with him! The 4 year old jumped in from time to time, but she is more interested in playing right now! His older brother, in 9th grade, helped him 'review' his phrases as well.

I was pretty overwhelmed with the downloads. I am not a very organized person when it comes to computer files, and probably would have done better with hard copies--including the audio. I ended up with files everywhere in the download section of my computer and 'lost' the non-native speaker file. The native speaker went way too fast for me, but my son has been learning both French and Spanish using other things, so he knew a little of what was going on. As the week progressed, he began to understand almost everything that she was saying. BONUS!! That was awesome-he even had to help mom pronounce stuff which is sad, considering there is a pronunciation guide IN the book! Aye yi yi! The good news is that Debbie has reorganized the audio files and they are now in folders for each lesson, as well as dividing the non-native audio file into 2 parts to make downloading easier. Yay!! I will say that she goes out of her way to accommodate her customers and is a pleasure to work with via email, etc. and answers right away!

As I stated, we received everything as a download, so as you can see in the very first picture, I comb bound EVERYTHING. I even combined the soft cover book and Lesson Guide for ease of use for mom. We used a recipe card box with index cards for his flash cards. Rather than cut out all of the cards included in the download, he created his own. I printed out EVERY LAST worksheet for his age and created a workbook for him.

We had some trouble starting right out of the gate. The very first 'worksheet' was to translate things from Spanish into English and vice versa. However, in the reading and in the audio file, many of the words were not covered yet, that we could find. We had to do quite a bit of flipping back and forth through the books. I had him look through the book and finally let him look at the answer sheet. He was able to pick up many words from the audio file, as well as what he already knows, so that wasn't a major problem. 

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful, very cost-effective product, especially when you compare the price to so many other foreign language curricula. It also reaches a wide variety of ages, provides an excellent foundation in Spanish for high school, and includes multidimensional learning. My son says, "I love it!!". For mama, it was a little difficult to navigate but I appreciated all of the helps--including the pronunciation guide. I can see using this in the future-especially with him.

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