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Monday, May 13, 2013

Spanish For You. A TOS Crew Review...

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I don't know about you, but teaching a foreign language in my homeschool is something I've always wanted to do.  Each and every year, it gets put onto our schedule, each and every year it gets started, and each and every year we get into the second month of school and it doesn't get done anymore.

Every year.

So, naturally, I was both giddy and terrified when the opportunity came up to review Spanish For You!  Giddy because I was just. so. excited!! about being shown how to teach Spanish to my kiddos.  Terrified because I was just. so. sure!! how this was going to end up, based on our past experiences.


What Is Spanish For You?

Spanish For You is marketed as "a curriculum that is simple to use, effective in approach, and exceptionally affordable" (from the website).  It is a Spanish curriculum that is aimed at kiddos from grades 3-8, and was developed by a Spanish teacher.

One thing that makes Spanish For You unique is that it is not presented or taught in the "typical" way.  Spanish for You is divided into themes, and the curriculum is sold and taught that way. For example, we received the "Fiestas" theme, which is based around celebrations.  There is also an "Estaciones" theme (seasons), and a "Viajes" theme (travel, which is currently only available as a 4-6 week-trial).  All of the lessons center around this theme, and vocabulary, verbs, and grammar are taught through "real-life" lessons.

Each guide can be used for all target grades for an entire school year.

Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpg

What Did We Receive?

We received the Fiestas package, which included a soft cover book, a 24 or 30-week Lesson Guide for each grade we needed as a download (we used the 3-4 grade lesson plan and the 7-8 grade lesson plan), a PDF file of self-checking worksheets, again for 3-4 grade AND 7-8 grade, downloadable audio files of the entire curriculum from both an instructor and a native speaker, and a PDF file of flashcard / activity pictures.  Our entire package is priced at $64.95; however, grade-specific packages can be bought for $39.95.

The Fiestas book includes some notes for parents / teachers, and then has a very cool reference section that includes some of the Spanish basics:  the alphabet, common words and phrases, commands, colors and numbers, making and practicing flashcards instructions, games and activities for practice, and information about the different fiestas we would be learning about.  The book then splits off into the lessons, and there are five lessons total.  Five lessons doesn't sound like a lot, but four weeks into our review period, we had only finished up one lesson--barely!

The downloads came right away are were easy to access.  However, there was some confusion when it came to figuring out which specific audio file went with each lesson.  They weren't always listed in the order that they were needed and sometimes they were hard to find when I needed them.  New downloads, though, will be grouped differently, and should be easier to identify and use.

How Did We Use This Curriculum?

Although it is specified for Grades 3-8, I chose to use this curriculum as part of our daily group time for all three of my kiddos (K, 4, and 7).  I figured that Bug could benefit from hearing the instruction, but my real audience would be my older girls.  While the lesson plans for Turtle showed 24 weeks of instruction and the lesson plans for Firefly showed 30 weeks, I was able to nicely combine both for a pace that worked for both girls.

I started by going through the book, which clearly spelled out "How to Use This Curriculum for Home Use" and gave a Lesson Guide Note for parents.  The guide states that it is set up for four days of work each week for 10-30 minutes each time, which is about exactly how we used it.  It also states that while the lesson plans are flexible and can be modified, the order of the work presented should be followed because it is very specific.  (We managed to do that too!)

Each "week", (I will use the term loosely, as we definitely slowed this curriculum down a great deal) there is a guide of the new vocabulary you will learn, the new common words and phrases, and some suggestions for practicing these.  The week is then broken into five days of plans, with different types of activities each day, from listening to the audio files, to playing card games, reading lessons, making sentences, completing worksheets, or singing songs.

What Did I Think of the Curriculum?
Playing "como te llamas?"

I'll be honest (which I guess is the point of the review, right?).  I was pretty much on the side of terrified when we actually received all of this information.  I didn't want to jump right in as is suggested.  I thought that surely my kiddos (and me) would need to start with basics like the alphabet.  How on earth were we supposed to fly right into "hablo, habla, hablamos" and "la comida" and things like that?

So,....I emailed the nice people at Spanish For You and asked them all kinds of questions.  And they reassured me that, yes, I could just dive right in and we'd be fine.

So I did.

And we were.


The first day we were all overwhelmed and that terrified feeling I had stuck around.  But day two was easier.  And day three.  And the lesson plans just gave us small little chunks to bite off, and we managed to do it.

And my kids learned it.  They loved that they could do it, and they loved that they had a friend who only speaks Spanish that they could actually (minimally, but it was better than nothing) communicate with her.  It must have been a riot to her that we kept talking about cake and candles, but, hey--it was a start, right?

The book was wonderful--simple illustrations, not too overwhelming visually, and full of resources for doing different activities to review vocabulary.  The audio files, though, were invaluable!  I don't speak Spanish and I'm sure my attempts at it were pretty pathetic.  However, we could just go to the computer to hear the lesson both from a teacher, and from a native speaker, which was a huge bonus!

I also really appreciated the lesson plans being done for me.  I love check-off-the-box curriculums.  At the same time, though, it was flexible enough for me to be able to combine the two plans, and to slow the plans down and take more time when we needed to.  The variety of review activities, and the simplicity of the worksheets were an added bonus!  It definitely kept my kids' attention.

This was one of the favorite's--BINGO!

What Did They Think of the Curriculum?

"I liked the birthday song.  That was fun.  Especially when we made the video.  I liked the BINGO and the other games like that.  And with the flashcards, where either my mom would put up the Spanish word and we would have to say the English, or she would hold up the English word and we would have to say the Spanish word."  Bug, age 6

"I really liked it.  It was really fun because you get to do fun stuff with it and play BINGO and it's really easy to now remember the Spanish words.  I really like the way that my mom taught it and how the recording worked.  It was really fun to learn the Spanish word and be able to talk to one of my friends that knows Spanish.  It was fun to hear her say stuff back to me in Spanish, some that I didn't know, but some I did because of this program."  Firefly, age 10

"I liked it.  It was fun."  Turtle, age 13  (She's quite a talker, that one.)

Overall, I think this curriculum is a great deal for what you get.  It is definitely one we will continue to use in our homeschool!

I'll leave you with some non-professional grade videos of my kiddos and myself showing off what we learned (please be kind and remember I'm learning too lol!).  One is a game of "Simon Dice" (Simon Says), and the other is the "Happy Birthday Song".

You can also check out what my Crew-Mates thought of the programs they got to review:


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