Friday, August 17, 2018

Our Spanish Plans for Fall - In Seven Simple Steps


Back-to-school means back-to-Spanish!! Although I try to always teach Spanish to my kids each week, starting a new school year puts a little boost in my efforts. I like to amp things up each fall, and at the beginning of every New Year.

As much as I can, I try to share with you all here on the blog (and on Instagram) what we do in our own home to learn Spanish. It helps me sooooo much to see what other parents and educators are doing. My hope is to share things that inspire you and give you ideas and practical help for learning Spanish in your own home!

I'll break down as much as I can what we'll be doing this fall (below), and maybe it will help you make your own Spanish plans for this school year. Or if after reading all of this, you still feel like you need a little help or guidance to get Spanish going in your house, I do lead a group called Jump Into Spanish where I share resources, lesson plans, videos, etc. for doing what we do each week. If you want more info or updates about that group go here: Jump Into Spanish Wait List

Read on for:
  • What method I use for teaching Spanish to my kids
  • How to use The Three Little Pigs to learn Spanish with your kids this fall
  • Resources for extending the story, practicing, and reinforcing what you learn



Using the Charlotte Mason Method

If you've been around here a while, you know I try to refer to the writings of Charlotte Mason to guide my teaching style.  You can visit Ambleside Online to read a summary of Charlotte Mason's thoughts on teaching foreign language.  I highly recommend you read it, and come back to it often to keep your lessons on track!

Last fall I wrote a post about how I'm learning to apply her methods, but I'll quickly summarize them here as well so you can follow along below.  Basically she suggests children spend ten minutes a day on foreign language lessons, which in her case was French.  You spend that time learning a few new words, then repeating some French phrases, and perhaps listening to a French story or poem or song.  The goal being to memorize the poetry so it can become the child's own. Same with the song and the story.  

If you're familiar with Charlotte Mason, you know that children have short lessons using living books (books that teach kids new ideas through a narrative style vs. textbook format) and may spend an entire term (12 weeks) reading one book.  For example, last year we read a biography on Leif Erikson that could easily be read in one long sitting, yet we only read a page or two at a time.  After reading a few pages the children narrate back to me what we have read in the story.  Using this method over the course of twelve weeks, made it feel like Leif was an old friend of ours.  Those little tidbits about his life we read each week are small enough for us to contemplate and savor, and thus take to heart.

You might think using one story would be boring, or overkill (I have thought that myself!), but I'm here to tell you from experience it's not.

First. If you're the one helping your child learn, it takes the pressure off needing to know too many things at once.  You have twelve weeks to listen to the story, learn the words of the story, get to know the rhythm of the story, and hopefully at the end, be able to tell a few things back about the story (or at least repeat a few phrases from it).

{We used this method to begin learning French, and the phrase that I caught on to was "Elle les amais bou cou."   Not sure if I spelled that right?  It's supposed to say "She loved them very much."}

Second. After spending this much time with one story, all the little phrases become like familiar friends. Your mouth gets used to saying them, your ears get used to hearing them.  You're learning language in context and that is helping your brain build grammar structures on which to hang all the new vocabulary you'll be learning (by trying to learn a few new words each day).

Let's Get Planning!

Now that you have a broad idea of how the method works, let's put it to use! First, you might want to print out the lesson plan template I use. Once you do that we can start filling it in!

#1: Pick your dates. For this fall, if you choose a start date of August 27, then you'll get all twelve weeks in before Thanksgiving!

#2: Choose a weekly schedule. Like I said above, you should have the goal of learning 5-6 new words a day. Then you might want to choose a specific day for poetry, or folk songs, or games, etc.

#3: Find three poems that fit your kids' Spanish learning level. Spanish Playground has tonnns of great poetry on their site. Another post I found very helpful for teaching kids Spanish poetry is over at Debbie's Spanish Learning.

#4: Find a folk song to learn. Spanish Mama has got you covered in this area. Check out her song suggestions and ideas here.

#5: Choose your story! We are doing The Three Little Pigs. I chose this one because you can find it read aloud by a native speaker on TheSpanishExperiment.com. You can choose any story, it doesn't have to be a classic story. Just make sure that your kids are familiar with the narrative or that it has a repetitive structure so that they can quickly get acquainted with what's going on in the story line.

Be sure to gather lots of resources like games or toys and books to re-tell the story, see the story in different forms, and play with the story. Here are some great ones to go along with The Three Little Pigs!!

   
  
  
#6: Choose a Spanish-speaking country to study! Or, since Hispanic Heritage Month is coming up, you could do a general study of hispanic culture. Just make sure you are learning about the wonderful cultures that influence and produce the beautiful language you'll be studying. What's language without the people who speak it!?

#7: Decide what words you'd like to learn! 5-6 words a day for five days a week for twelve weeks is about 360 words! I like to choose a vocabulary theme for each week, and then I try to find books along that theme. You could also just get a set of vocabulary picture cards like these below...or get one of those 'My First Spanish Words' books.

   
  

And that's it! Now you have your Spanish plans ready for the fall!

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