Monday, May 13, 2013

TOS Crew Review- Spanish for You

Do you teach a second language at your house?  Are you bilingual?  If not, then you may have found that teaching a second language can be a challenge.  We have found that the vocabulary part is pretty easy to pick up, but as for the mechanics and conversational part, well, that is another story.  The other thing we have found is that programs for the elementary age students are either filled with fluff or are hard for the "normal" non-Spanish speaking mom to use.  Until now!

Spanish for You Logo photo spanishforyoulog_zpsa3fadef7.jpgEnter Spanish for You!, created by Debbie Annett, a Spanish teacher of 14 years.  Spanish for You! was written by Debbie and intended to teach children grades 3-8 Spanish in a simple and affordable manner.  And there is NO fluff.  Intended to be taught four days a week,  this program covers not only vocabulary, but the mechanics of grammar as well.   There are two themes available at this time, Fiestas and Estaciones, with a third theme coming soon.  Each one will cover a year, 24 to 32 weeks, depending on the grade you are using.  We were given the opportunity to review the complete program which has lesson plans for grades 3rd through 8th.

A quick and easy download of a few files will get you started.  Downloads include the lesson guides,  self checking worksheets, pictures and flashcards for each lesson and two audio files.  One audio is of Debbie reading each lesson, the other is that of a native speaker reading the lessons.  Also included was a softbound lesson book for your child to use.  Once we downloaded the material I printed off the lesson plans and bound them for easy reference.  While we had access to all the grade levels, we decided to print off only the grades 5-6 for our use.

Each week is broken into four days of scheduled activities.  Each day listed tells you exactly what to do...from reading a specific part of the lesson to listening to part of the audio, playing a game or using the flash cards.  Debbie has now divided the downloads up by grade levels so you can quickly access the files you need to listen to or the worksheets you need print out for the day.

*As a side note, the files we originally received were not divided up well.  With a few comments from our review crew about it being hard to find what we needed, Debbie divided up the files into grade levels.  Talk about listening to input.  It was only the beginning for me of being impressed with not only the program but the availability of the publisher.  Debbie is a dedicated educator who obviously believes in her product, and wants to present it in the best possible way.  For me, that knowledge makes the program even more special!

How we used it-
My son, a 5th grader, has been exposed to Spanish before.  His younger brother was born in Guatemala so we use many Spanish words and phrases in our home.  But this is the first time he has been formally introduced to the grammar part of the language.  I have to say that I was impressed.  He picked up on it quickly and was even able to do the worksheets without help from me.  One of the things that I think really helped his retention were the audio files.  I think that not only for the auditory leaner, but also for anyone, hearing the lessons after reading them helps solidify things in their minds.  We especially liked hearing the tracks with the native speaker.  We have learned in the past that just by hearing a native speaker say things helps you be less intimidated by the language.  It becomes more natural to your ear and, of course, ensures you are pronouncing things properly. 

I also like that the lessons are broken into manageable sizes.   We followed Debbie's four day schedule presented in the lesson plans.  Information is presented slowly and then repeated often with practice in the form of suggested games, worksheets and flashcards.  It is easy to follow and laid out in an organized manner.  Often Debbie starts a lesson with flashcard practice, but even when she did not, we found it to be a good way to start our lesson.  Let's just say that the fifth grader learns faster than the teacher sometimes!

Fiestas chapters cover the holidays of:
a birthday, 
Day of the Dead,
Holy Week in Spain,
and The April Fair.

Each chapter is meant to be done in order as the learning spirals on itself, but individual books can be done in any order.  Working with more than one grade of child?  Not a problem.  Because the complete set has lessons for all three levels (3rd&4th grade, 5th&6th, and 7th&8th) you can teach multiple levels at one time, having each child do the corresponding worksheets.  Bonus- We were able to include my 5year old in many of the lessons!  While he is still too young to do the worksheets, he picked up  the vocabulary quickly and is always ready to play a Spanish game.  He may not have understood all the conjugating of verbs, but he was able to at least know how to say something in first person.

I cannot wait to start him with this program on his own in 3rd grade and will continue to use it with my 5th grader until we are finished.  Then on to Estaciones!

Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpgYou can see a sample of the Fiestas curriculum as well to help you get a feel for how the material is presented.  The first 14 pages of the book are "extras", including common phrases and commands, the alphabet, colors and numbers as well as information on making and using flash cards and games and other activities to use to enhance learning.  There is also an information section about each of the 5 celebrations studied.

To order Fiestas or any other products visit the Spanish for You! website.  The grades 3-8 package costs $64.95 and includes the soft cover book (or e-book), lesson plans, worksheets, audio file of the entire book, as well as the audio file by a native speaker and flashcard/activity pictures (pdf file).  Extra workbooks can be ordered for $12.95.  You can also order separate grade levels.  Also on the Spanish for You! website you will find free mini lessons and worksheets to print off.  Go take a look and see what you think.  You will not be disappointed!


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