Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Spanish for You!

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Probably my biggest regret from High School and College is that I never took a foreign language.  I took plenty of math and science, but foreign language wasn't required and my schedule filled up with other things.  I've tried to make sure that my children have an appreciation for foreign languages and have made sure that they have the opportunity to take several languages themselves.  Mind you, I've never felt like I was capable of teaching them another language, but I can certainly find people who are.  My older two take high school Spanish in our homeschool co-op, but there hasn't been a class for my middle schooler.  I've looked at several programs for her and finally found one that is working for us -- and I can even follow the directions to teach it.

Spanish for You - Estaciones photo spanishforyou-estaciones_zps3adcc14c.jpgA Spanish curriculum for children in grades 3 - 8, Spanish for You  takes a fun approach to teaching the language.  It is a hands-on program that includes auditory files to make learning Spanish easy.  Developed in themes and following a unit study approach, Spanish for You is family-friendly and can be used as a stand alone study for your child(ren) -- (or you can tag along like me and work through it together).  Our review has targeted my 6th grade Princess, so I asked her to choose with theme we would begin working on and she chose Estaciones [Seasons].  That was a perfect choice as Spring is giving way to Summer and warm weather is arriving.

What I especially like about Spanish for You curriculum is that it is comprehensive in nature and doesn't simply teach words and phrases.  Created by Debbie Annett, language educator and author, the aim of Spanish for You is that students learn to actually communicate with others in Spanish.   This is so incredibly important today.  We live in a global community and communication skills are at an all-time low.  Knowing one or two phrases in a foreign language will only allow you to ask for simple directions, and will not allow for the development of true friendships.  I love the fact that terminology is integrated in a fun and exciting way so that my daughter will be able to use what she is studying in a real way, in the real world, and develop real friendships.

Full of activities and games that make learning fun and keep it interesting, Spanish for You provides students with multiple opportunities to really process the Spanish language.  Free worksheets are provided for additional practice to make sure your students really comprehend what they are studying.  There are even free mini lessons available on the website for you to get a perfect feel for what Spanish for You has to offer.

For purposes of review, I received a download of the entire Estaciones theme pack which included:
  • the Student Textbook (57 pages)
  • the complete Lesson Guide (26 pages that cover an entire 24-week school year broken down one week of lessons at a time.  Students typically work 4 days a week and can follow the Lesson Guide step-by-step to complete their work and master the skills assigned.  You can even see a sample of the Lesson Guide and see how easy it is to use.)
  • Self-checking Worksheets that my Princess does by herself.  (With just a little help from her older sister because she thinks it's cool, too.)
  • Audio Files for the entire Textbook -- including additional audios by a native speaker
  • Flash Cards and Pictures to be used in learning activities
Additional items that we found helpful were our printer, paper, cardstock, pencils, markers, and a Spanish-English Dictionary.  (We had a physical dictionary, but you could use one online, as well.)

So, how did Spanish for You work at Long Leaf Academy?

As you can see in this picture, I like to see it all laid out in front of me and formulate a plan for where we are headed.  I began by printing the Lesson Guides for the first 5 weeks of Estaciones and highlighting each of the activities that would be done throughout the lessons.  This allowed me to easily find what I needed to print so that my Princess would be prepared when we sat down each day.  I printed the worksheets that correlated to the week's lessons and paired them with the textbook pages that she would be studying.

I printed out the flashcards (on light pink cardstock) and cut them apart so they would be ready for my Princess to begin.  I laid them out and the neatest thing happened.  My Junior, the Artist, walked into the room and looked them over.  She said, "Mom, these are not in the correct order and that's driving me crazy."  Funny thing was, I had not even told her what "order" they should be in or even what the flashcards represented.  She knew immediately that they represented the months of the year and the seasons.  She sat right down and began to put them in correct order.  THEN, she offered to help her sister with Spanish -- and even volunteered to teach the course for me since she knows Spanish and I don't.  My heart be still.

I had the Princess start to work on a Spanish word find (included in the Activity Pages) so that she could begin to be acquainted with the words and allow her brain to get used to the idea that something new was coming.  We both thought that this was a fun way to train her brain and it helped her to not be intimidated by the Spanish language.  I really do believe it was a good way to encourage her in this new endeavor.

The weekly Lesson Guides are laid out in such a way that your students really can do Spanish for You all by themselves.  They offer a step-by-step approach beginning with New Vocabulary and walk you through what to read in the Textbook, what activities to do (including which Worksheets to complete), which games to play to reinforce what you're learning and which audios to listen to.  Reviews are built in weekly so that students are continually building on their vocabulary and communication skills.  My Princess is having no trouble completing her work and understanding what she is studying.  She doesn't mind sitting down to each day's lesson and can usually finish what is required within 15 - 20 minutes.  She'll definitely be continuing with her Estaciones theme pack throughout the summer.

You can give your children the gift of language by purchasing Spanish for You theme packs.  There are several to choose from (with more on the way) and each package stands alone.  They do not have to be done in any particular order -- you just need to dive in and get started.

You can purchase graded packages (3-4 Grade, 5-6 Grade, OR 7-8 Grade) for only $39.95 OR you can purchase the entire 3-8 Grade Package for only $64.95.  This makes it quite economical for a family to study Spanish for an entire year together.  The Princess and I are enjoying studying together and learning all about the Seasons {along with big sister, too}.  It's perfect for us and I think will be loads of fun for you and your children as well.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review Spanish For You as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought as well (or just click on the banner below.)


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