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Thursday, May 9, 2013

TOS Review: Spanish For You!

I was asked to review Spanish for You's Fiestas program by Debbie Annett, MDEd.

Spanish for You is a Spanish language course for kids in grades 3-8. The program I was asked to review, Spanish for You! Fiestas! was a downloadable e-book and contained an e-book, lesson guide, worksheets divided into age groups (grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8), audio files both by the teacher and in a native tongue, and flashcards.

I intended to use this with Adam and Kaden (ages 11 and 10). Mia (age 13) decided to join in.

To begin, I had to open and download all the files mentioned above. They were very large zip files and my computer found them very challenging. After the zip files were downloaded and opened I had the task of finding the files - audio, worksheets, and flashcards - I needed for each lesson. There was a lesson guide but the files weren't clearly labeled in the lesson guide and weren't necessarily in order on my hard drive, creating some organizational confusion.

To be truthful, we're a book family. Until the kids do schoolwork online (late middle school / high school) we sit at the kitchen table with our books and work away. I was out of my element with this program and I was beyond frustrated, which may have been lessened somewhat had I had much experience with downloaded programs. That said, I really do believe that the program needs to be, and can be, better organized. I spent a lot of time channeling paraphrased SirMixaLot lyrics:

          "I like big books, I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny ...".

After fighting with the computer, the files, my SirMixaLot brain, and, ultimately, the printer I was tempted to give up on the program, thankfully I didn't throw in the towel, because my first impression was not a reflection of the quality of the program itself.

The program seemed to me to be kind of a hybrid between immersion and traditional classroom. Our program, Fiestas! teaches Spanish while talking about parties and events, rather than just the rote memorization I remember from junior high Spanish (as boring as that was, I can still conjugate a whole lot of verbs!). The first lesson teaches birthday party terms, which really got the kids attention and kept them interested. Even River (age 4) sat at the table and participated. The flashcards and worksheets, combined with the audio lessons, really worked. We spent about 20-25 minutes a day on the lessons and by the end of the first week all the kids had learned a dozen words in Spanish and after two weeks they were learning verb forms and had a grasp on some basic communication. What they were learning made sense because it was in "everyday" terms, and that made it much easier to learn and retain.

After the first few days we got into a routine ... they'd work on flashcards while I found the correct files for the day, nowhere near as frustrating as it was initially. I'm not sure if the kids liked watching me get confused or really, really liked the Spanish program, but they did ask every day to do Spanish (I believe it was combination of both). Each days lesson included a combination of sound files (very handy for non Spanish speakers), flashcards, games/activities, lesson pages, and worksheets.
From Kaden: The program helped us memorize Spanish, so we could speak it. It took a while to find the right pages but when we found them we could learn something. I think other people would learn from it when they did it.
Overall, I liked the content of this program for the kids because they liked it and they learned from it while still having fun.  The lessons were engaging and interesting, with a lot of variety in presentation and work required.

In it's current form this is not the program for me, I wish it were organized with everything needed for a lesson together, with a clearer, more navigable lesson guide, but I think this program has great potential. If a new lesson plan that I could follow more easily was released we'd likely continue with the program.

Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpgSpanish for You! Fiestas! 24-30 week program can be purchased at Spanish for You! for $34.95 for each specific grade level, or $64.95 for all three grade levels (grade 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8). Included in the $35.95 and $64.95 are:
  • soft cover book or e-book (currently only our trial pkgs.)
  • 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4) (PDF download)
  • self-checking worksheets (PDF download)
  • audio files of entire book (includes bonus audio of native speaker of entire book) (MP3 download)
  • flashcard/activity pictures (PDF download)
Click here for more reviews of Spanish for You! Fiestas! from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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1 comment:

  1. Loved your honest review. I'm a book person too. :) If this was offered in a completely print version, I'd pay more for that.

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