Review: Spanish For You
Immersion is well-known for being the most effective way to learn a foreign language, but it can be difficult to replicate on a local scale, especially in a home-learning environment where the parent doesn’t speak the language. Spanish for You! addresses that challenge, with students learning to write, read, and speak Spanish through age-appropriate materials.
Spanish for You! is centered around themes, rather than levels, allowing parents to choose packages based on interest, rather than level of experience. Spanish for You! was designed to be easy and fun to use with mixed-age groups from 3rd-8th grade. There are currently two year-long programs available, Estaciones (Seasons) and Fiestas (Celebrations), and a third theme, Viajes (Travel), should be available June 2013. A short 4-6 week trial of Viajes is available now.
Every Spanish for You! is tested by the author, during a full school year, in an instructional environment. This allows her to ensure consistent quality and usability. Spanish for You! utilizes a variety of learning tools, including workbook pages, audio files, and describes specific ways to increase interactive learning and practice communication.
There are three different levels of curricula; the primary differences are the worksheets and the number of weeks of instruction provided. Grades 3-4 runs 30 weeks, while grades 5-6 and 7-8 are 24 weeks. Every Spanish for You! Program includes a soft-cover textbook, plus downloads:
- Lesson Guide, covers 24-to-30 weeks; PDF format – Sample lesson guide
- Worksheets – grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 in PDF format – Sample worksheets
- Audio files of the entire text; MP3 format
- Bonus audio files of entire texts, read by a native Spanish; MP3 format
- Images to use for flashcards and other recommended activities; PDF format
Lesson Guides include plans for 4-days per week, but it’s flexible enough that more or less material may be covered, so long as the lessons are worked through in order.
Spanish for You! also provides sample free mini lessons and free worksheets so that you view their style and approach. Make sure you check out their activity and game suggestions for practicing Spanish – many of these ideas can apply to not just other foreign languages, but other subjects entirely.
We received Estaciones for review, and have worked through several weeks of lessons. The lesson guide is easy to understand, and the worksheet files are organized well, making it quick and easy to prepare for Spanish – definitely a plus in this busy household! No trying to figure out what the author means, and no hunting for files. Each weekly lesson shows exactly the info you’ll need.
The kids have enjoyed the lessons, though they’re still in A.W.K.W.A.R.D. mode – practicing out loud feels sort of silly to them, at least, if it’s anything formal. That said, the audio files are extremely helpful, even for a family that’s been around a lot of Spanish speaking friends. It’s SO much easier to repeat the audio a zillion times – the patience of a friend for repeating the same word over and over just doesn’t last that long – and sometimes, we’ve found we NEED that extra repetition as we’re attempting to mimic a sound.
The worksheets are designed so that they’re “fun” and don’t come across as *hard work*, which ensures that the kids will be looking forward to that part of the day – and a positive attitude, I’m convinced, is absolutely necessary when attempting to learn something like a foreign language.
For me, I especially appreciate having two sets of audio files for comparison. That’s not a tool that I’ve seen used in other language curriculums, and I didn’t realize until now just how useful that could be. Those slight differences in pronunciation help you know if you’re “close enough” or still way off track. (Though I have one kid who just excels at pronunciation – her early years were spent in a bilingual preschool/daycare, and she has a far better ability to properly say words in Spanish than I ever will. Audio files also help ensure that my lesser skill isn’t messing up her capabilities.
I’m still undecided as to whether or not Spanish for You! will work out to be the equivalent of traditional leveled Spanish curricula; I don’t feel like we’ve used it long enough to be able to make that call. I will say this: for learning and encouraging use of basic Spanish in everyday life, and building confidence that they *can* communicate in Spanish, even with native speakers, Spanish for You! is an excellent tool. It would be a great way to have some level of fluency prior to starting high-school level instruction.
Spanish for You! provides several purchase options, so that you only need purchase the levels that you desire for your family. A complete theme set that includes worksheets for all grade levels is $64.95. Smaller packages that contain all materials for instruction, but just the lesson guide and worksheet files for a specific level (3rd-4th, 5th-6th, or 7th-8th) are priced at $39.95. Extra textbooks are $12.95 each. (The same text and audio materials are used for each of the levels.) If you plan to use Spanish for You! in a classroom setting, optional teacher lesson plans are $12.95.