Monday, April 22, 2013

Spanish For You! - Review

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If you are looking for an affordable foreign language curriculum, then Spanish For You! may be the answer.  This innovative new product line allows you to pick a theme that interests you (and your kids) and go from there.   Current options are:

Viajes (Travel) 4 week trial $5.99
Viajes (Travel) 6 week trial $12.99
Fiestas (Celebrations) $39.95 per grade level (3/4, 5/6, 7/8)
Estaciones (Seasons) $39.95 per grade level (3/4, 5/6, 7/8)

ALL Spanish for You! packages come complete with:

  • soft cover book or e-book (trial pkgs.)
  • 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4)
  • self-checking worksheets
  • audio files of entire book (includes bonus audio of native speaker of entire book)
  • flashcard/activity pictures

Spanish for You also offers free curriculum activities, free mini lessons, and free worksheets to accompany your curriculum choice. 

For this review I received the Estaciones curriculum in the digital format.  Everything downloaded for me without any problem, although the audio download is HUGE (127,679 KB) and took quite a while to download.  I will say it was quite a chore trying to figure out the order and usage of all of the downloads, as they appear to be in no particular order.  Obviously, when buying the physical copies this won’t be an issue for you.  Update:  Since hearing of the issues with the downloads, Debbie Annett, the creator of Spanish for you has reorganized the downloads and the audio’s to make them easier to access and use.

The first day of our lessons was spent printing and cutting out the flashcards.  The flashcards themselves are very basic, drawn by a child to help keep cost down and also to be more child friendly.  I get the logic behind that, however a couple of flash cards have the exact same drawing for two different words/phrases which was confusing to my kids.

On the second day we listened to the audio for the vocabulary.  This went pretty well, except there wasn’t enough time to finish the “repeat after me” step before the next thing was being said, so I was having to constantly start/stop the audio.  We also reviewed the flashcards again.

Day three is where it all went down hill for us.  We were still on lesson 1.  Again we were listening to the audio, and the speaker was giving directions in Spanish, based on the vocabulary words.  The speaker said for example, “Dibuja hace mal tiempo.”  At this point you stop the audio and wait for your student to “Dibuja hace mal tiempo" (which means “Draw it’s bad weather.”)   Then we start the audio and listen to another command and the student is supposed to do what the speaker is instructing.

Several commands into this process and I heard sniffles coming from behind me.   There sits poor Lindsey in tears “I don’t know what she’s telling me to do, I don’t know what she’s saying.”

Gardening 002Gardening 003

An hour and a half later, we’re still trying to get through this portion of lesson #1.   We ended up listening to the audio, stopping the audio and then I had to go over to Lindsey and help her find the words on her lesson page to translate the directions she’d just been given.  Below is a sample of her work.

Gardening 005

The second week we started Lesson #1 over, sans making the flashcards.  Day number one was spent going over the flashcards, a lot.  Day number two we added the audio again.  Day number 3 we were again in tears.  We never got to day #4. 

One of the concerns I initially had with this program was that it jumps right in and takes off with doing things, but with very little ground work having been laid.  The creator’s logic is that this makes learning Spanish more natural because you are learning about topics that can be used in conversation.   Her logic made sense to me in a way, but it just doesn’t work for my kids.

My children are the type who want to know the why and what for behind things the do.  This particular product line doesn’t work well for them because of the lack of background information that is presented.  Children with other learning styles, or who aren’t as concerned about the “how’s and why’s” would do very well with Spanish For You!   It just wasn’t a good fit for our family.

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