Spanish for You! Review

Buenos Dias, y bienvenido a la pagina para critica de Spanish For You!  I recently received a sample for review, and thought I would share my opiniones con usted!
With the Spanish for You! program, elementary and middle grade students can learn the beautiful Spanish language by themes.  No boring verb tense drills, here – just lots of relevant words to a main topic (you know, kind of like real life…)
I received the ESTACIONES (Seasons) book.  There are also currently theme books for VIAJES (Travels) and FIESTAS (Celebrations), with more to come.  The books start at $9.99, with an expected learning time of 4-6 weeks.  Class packs are also available, as well as teacher guides, for an additional cost.
The ESTACIONES book starts with some basics… the alphabet, common words, phrases, and commands, and then moves into the units.  Each one established around a topic.  There is “Calendar and Weather”, each of the four seasons, and school terms.  You can see a complete table of contents and some sample pages HERE.
Learning a foreign language is like studying a musical instrument.  It’s best to take it in small bites.  That’s why Spanish for You! recommends studying just 10-30 minutes a day.  In a school schedule, this is more likely to be 3-4 times per week.
When I first received the book, I thought it was kind of on the slim side, but the interior is packed with great information!  It’s easy to see how just one unit can take more than a month to complete!  There are lots of practices, paired with pictures.  (And if the pictures seem reminiscent of child drawings, that’s because they are!  The author’s daughter illustrates her books!)
Each lesson introduces vocabulary words with their accompanying pictures, before moving on to simple sentences.  The audio files are a big help for those without Spanish training or experience, or for letting the student listen to on their own.  I was also thrilled that I could use the same program for both children, eliminating re-teaching and repetition.
Perhaps my favorite (and most fun!) were the Games and Activities listed.  These simple games made learning the vocabulary words easier and more memorable, while letting the kid think they were having “fun time” without the books!  Language-learning versions of “Memory”, “Bingo”, dice games, and “Simon Dice” (Simon Says) had everyone smiling in no time.

Just a few of the highlights of Spanish For You!:

  • Self-study, family, or class use
  • Affordable – $9.99 for electronic download, $12.99 for print book
  • Flexible – Go at your own pace.
  • Easy to use – Just follow the lesson guide & go!
  • Time Saving– Use one package with students of multiple grades at the same time.
  • Fun – Uses simple games and activities to engage students.
  • Your Choice: soft cover book or e-book (currently only our trial pkgs.)
  • Lesson Guide: 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4) (PDF download)

    • *Teacher lesson plans are NOT included. These need to be purchased separately.
  • Worksheets – 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)

You can read more experiences right HERE,at, and in the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton, “Don’t just take my word for it!”  Read these other great reviews by parent educators like me!


Unschooling Explained

Many parents – especially new homeschoolers – ask me what is the difference between all the various methods of educating your child?  Should I use a boxed curriculum or put it together myself?  What IS Charlotte Mason… Eclectic…Unschooling…Classical Method?  And how do I know which is right for my child?

I’m going to begin exploring the answers to some of those questions, and the first in my scouring for good answers comes in this well-written article by Nicholas Scalice:

 The Truth About Unschooling

What if I told you that kids didn’t have to sit inside a classroom to learn? Well, all over the world there is a revolutionary phenomenon taking shape; it is a phenomenon of true education and it is called unschooling.

Wikipedia defines unschooling as “a controversial range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum.” Wow, you mean parents actually let their children learn from natural life experiences? Shocking!

Whatever your opinion is of unschooling, I can tell you that it works. Maybe not for everyone, but for the many, unschooling seems to be one of the best ways to embrace the natural intelligence that we are all born with. Why? That part has to do with the way our compulsory school system has become corrupted.

If you think back to childhood, most kids learn by asking questions about the world around them. They’ll ponder, “Why is the sky blue? What is the name of that flower? What is your favorite food?” and other endless questions. Interestingly enough, this is unschooling in action. Small children are naturally curious about the world and they seek to satisfy their curiosity with lots and lots of questions. Oh, but along comes school, which teaches children not to “ask stupid questions.” School forces children to “learn” about things they have no interest in. The system focuses on rote memorization rather than intellectual curiosity. Unnecessary questions are frowned upon and the “students” spend more time staring at sheets of paper than at the world around them.

We are built to learn. We are built to soak up knowledge from anything and everything. There is no need for such a process to be forced upon us. When it is however, the result is usually a severe weakening of our sense of curiosity. Why is it that a large number of high school students often hate reading on their own free time? Could it be that they have been forced to read so many books that do not interest them that they’ve become burned out? If left unaltered, I believe there is evidence to show that reading is naturally enjoyable, for the simple fact that it plays upon our curiosity.

Those few people who know that I graduated from a state university with a perfect 4.0 GPA sometimes ask me how it was possible, especially while holding down two jobs and serving in various organizations. In response, I tell them that I’ve been preparing for college all my life, from the day I was born, by learning to love learning. While not as bad as our compulsory education system, college faces its own set of roadblocks to natural learning. Nevertheless, college can be fun and it offers unschoolers the opportunity to succeed in new ways. You just have to want to be there for the right reasons.

In conclusion, I’m not an extremist when it comes to unschooling. In fact, I was only unschooled from the fourth grade onward. That means I learned how to read and write and how to multiply and divide in public school (blame the typos on that). So there is hope for our school system, if only we embrace the unique learning style of each student. In that case, teachers have the toughest and the easiest job on the planet. On one side of the coin, they must work to identify those learning styles and build upon them. However, they must also step back and allow our world to become the greatest teacher of all. For there is a teacher all around us, moving at the pace of our individual curiosity, never focusing on memorization and never testing us without a good reason. That is what unschooling is all about.