How do you teach your child Spanish if you are not bilingual yourself?
Raising bilingual children is a hot topic in the news nowadays. More and more Latino families are recognizing the value of raising their kids to speak both English and Spanish. But what happens if you are English dominant and don’t speak the language at home? What if you don’t have the luxury of sending your child to a dual language immersion school because there’s either not one in your area, or you didn’t win the “admission lottery?”
Luckily more resources are hitting the market as more parents seek online programs and Spanish learning curricula that they can use at home with their kids. Listed below are five Spanish programs for home use.
Sonrisas is a complete preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum created by two Spanish teachers with 30 collective years of experience. There is a strong literature component to this comprehensive, research- and standards-based program that teaches cultural traditions in addition to the language. It is influenced by three particular methodologies: the Total Physical Response (TPR), the Natural Approach (NA), and the Waldorf foreign language approach. Both the TPR and NA methods are based on ESL techniques and incorporate movement to improve learning. The Waldorf approach places heavy emphasis on learning the culture associated with the language, making the learning process very personal and authentic. This program includes art activities, story time, singing, and more. It’s perfect for kids ages 9 and under.
PetraLingua is an online language course for kids ages 3 to 12. The courses cover the curriculum of the first two to three years of foreign language learning at schools, and are a great choice for homeschoolers, as well as for classroom use. The program works on Windows, MAC, iPad, iPhone, as well as on Android tablets and phones. For parents who would prefer materials they can use at home instead of an online program, PetraLingua has recently launched complete multimedia language learning sets that include DVDs, CDs, an activity book, playing cards, and hand puppets. This company offers many different language choices, including Spanish.
Calico Spanish is a full-immersion program that provides parents with all the tools they could possibly need to help their children learn a second language. Each lesson contains songs, calendar time, a specific number, letter, and color, games, “zoo” time/animal introduction, activities and a final closing that may be taught over a one- to two-week period.
The comprehensive curriculum comes with a detailed Teacher’s Manual , Student Activity Book, Spanish Songs for Kids CD, A set of Calico Spanish Flash Cards, Verbos Flash Cards, First Thousand Words in Spanish, ¡Corre, perro, corre!, and a Homeschool Poster Set. For parents who like a lot of visual aids, this may be the best choice for you. Everything you need to teach your child is provided.
One of the better-known programs, Little Pim was created by Julia Pimsleur Levine, who designed the materials for her own son based on the work of her father Dr. Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method for language acquisition in adults. Her program uses the Entertainment Immersion Method and uses digital videos, DVDs, CDs, books, and more. This program focuses on early childhood language learning and is best suited for newborns to 6 year olds. Companion guides make it easy for parents to follow along and learn with their children, so Spanish fluency is not required.
Developed by professional educators, Whistlefritz uses live speakers in fun skits, games, catchy music, and dance to teach kids Spanish. Their newest product, Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids, is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers who are looking for a complete program to use at home. The set comes with a complete collection of DVDs and CDs to accompany the lesson manual, which contains 40 lessons that engage children in fun, interactive, age-appropriate activities, such as creating puppets, following recipes, conducting experiments, and playing board games. In addition to Spanish, the curriculum includes cross-curricular lessons in math, science, and physical education. The lessons flow in a logical progression of thematic units (Colors, Numbers, Shapes, Places, Around the House, Clothing, Seasons, Parts of the Body, Positional Words, Food, Family, Animals, and Descriptive Words), culminating in a fiesta!
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.