Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Spanish for You!

When Debbie Annett saw a gap in Spanish instruction for the elementary and middle school grades, she decided to fill it.  This seems a natural step given she is an Illinois State Certified Teacher with a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Northern Illinois University. She has also studied in Seville, Spain.

The result of Annett’s efforts is Spanish for You!, a theme based Spanish curriculum for grades 3-8.

Each Spanish for You! package comes with several components:
  • soft cover book
Digital downloads of the following:
  • full audio of the entire book read by the author
  • full audio of the entire book read by a native speaker
  • Lesson Guide
  • self-checking worksheets
  • pictures for flashcards and activities
“Spanish for You!…teaches the key foundational concepts of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and verb conjugation consistently from chapter to chapter and book to book in a way that students learn Spanish as language components to be put together in different ways, much like building blocks. “
There are many Spanish programs, but Spanish for You! approaches instruction a little differently than most.

The language instruction is theme-based. Currently there are three different themes available: Fiestas (celebrations), Estaciones (seasons), and Viajes (travel).

I think the theme approach is great for young children.  It seems less overwhelming and easier to maintain a higher interest. Also, a variety of games and activities are suggested for the flash cards. Read the author’s blog post about her thoughts on using flashcards.

The themes are not leveled and do not need to be used in any particular order. Each theme has some new and some overlapping material. Furthermore, multiple grade levels (3-8) can study the same material at the same time. The same book is used for all levels, but different lesson plans and worksheets are provided at varying levels (3/4, 5/6, 7/8). If Spanish for You! is being used in the classroom, the lack of levels within themes allows a new student to start study at their own grade level with those who have previous study.

This flexibility flows into the use and implementation of the program as well.  The Lesson Guides are very easy to follow and the pace can be slowed down or sped up as needed. No previous Spanish experience is needed, either by the student or the teacher. The program can be used in the classroom, at home with one or several students, or as independent study.

The instruction is gentle. It is meant to introduce a language over several years, in preparation for future study. The two audio recordings help with this approach.  The recording by the author, who is not a native speaker, is less intimidating to new learners and allows the articulation to be slowed down.  When students are ready, they can listen to the audio files by the native speaker, who naturally speaks at a faster pace and genuine accent.

There are a few areas with room for improvement, but they are relatively minor. When I received my downloads for the grades 3-8 package, I found the numerous files confusing and needing to be organized.  Others did too, and the vendor has since reorganized the worksheet and audio files into folders for all future downloads. Also, the pictures provided for flashcards and activities were created by the author’s daughter, so they are rather juvenile. This was done as a way to offset some of the production costs. Some children may really like this and it will make the program seem more directed toward them.  However, older kids might be turned off by it.

The above issues, however, are a great example of the two largest advantages I’ve seen with Spanish for You!: great customer service and affordability. The author has made great efforts to communicate, answer questions, and correct any issues throughout the review process.  This is the key for success to any program.  Furthermore, the cost of the program is very reasonable, especially if you need multiple levels.

To explore Spanish for You! more, be sure to take a look at the free samples available.

Book: Introduction and Lesson 1
Lesson Guides: Samples for Each Grade
Worksheets: Samples for Each Grade
Free Activities and Games

The Fiestas (Celebrations) and Estaciones (Seasons) packages for all grades 3-8 are available for $64.95.  If you are only needing one grade level (either 3/4, 5/6, 7/8), it can be purchased for $39.99.  If needed, extra lesson books can be purchased for $12.95 each. The worksheets provided are all digital.  The Fiestas and Estaciones programs are meant for an entire year. The Viajes (Travels) package is available for either grades 5-8 for $9.99 or grades 3-4 for $12.99, and are used over a period of four and six weeks respectively. Click here to purchase.

All purchases come with a money back guarantee.

1 comment:

Kimberly Kovach said...

Thanks for the info on Spanish for You. I've wanted something else for my youngest son who studied with Homeschool Spanish Academy which I loved, but can't afford right now. This would be an inexpensive way to keep his Spanish learning continuing.