Best Spanish Curriculum for Homeschool Families
One of the most daunting tasks of the homeschool parent is to teach the two years of foreign language required for college bound students. Increasingly, Spanish is the foreign language of choice in the United States, if for no other reason than it is second to English in common use here.
There are many options to choose from; tutors, community college classes, and a variety of curricula that can make the choice almost impossible. If you plan on teaching Spanish in your homeschool, no matter what the grade level, you'll be glad to know that there are some really excellent resources available.
Consider the Needs of Your Family
All families are different; just because something works for your neighbor does not mean that it will work well in your situation. Here are some things to consider before you choose a Spanish curriculum.
Number of Students
How many children will be using the curriculum? Do you plan on teaching all of your children at the same time or do you just want your high school student to get his foreign language credits out of the way?
Ages of Your Children
Elementary and even preschool children can learn a foreign language quickly and easily – maybe even more easily than their older siblings. They will, however need more parental involvement and different techniques than what is needed at the high school level.
If your teaching plan includes early elementary aged children you may want to look at a program that gives them plenty of opportunities to use all of their senses. Some curriculums have electronic games, music, and other interactive techniques that are perfect for younger children.
Junior high and high school students can learn at their own pace and almost completely independently by using curriculums that are computer programs.
Very visual learners often have difficulty learning languages, especially from curriculums that are mostly based on audio techniques. Choose programs that have DVDs or well illustrated books.
How Much Can You Spend?
Programs are available in almost all price ranges and you can save more money by choosing used curriculum available from Amazon, eBay, and local sources. If you just want to introduce the language you can even find free language programs on the Internet.
Spanish willrequire some involvement from the parent no matter what program you use. You should decide how much time you, as a parent/teacher, have to devote to the curriculum. It can be fun to make it a shared learning activity for the whole family.
Resources on Amazon
Choose the Best Spanish Homeschool Curriculum for You
Usually you will have to choose between budget and time. Programs that are less expensive will generally take more of your time that those programs that allow your child to be largely independent. It is important that you find a balance between what you can afford and what you actually have time to do.
Abeka uses a traditional classroom approach to learning Spanish at the high school level and will require a time investment on the part of the parent. It is a two year study, similar to the one you would see in the public school system compromised of Spanish I and Spanish II. Tests, workbooks, quizzes, and a teacher's guide are available.
If this is an approach that you like you should also look at the Bob Jones Curriculum.
A three year course of study is recommended for elementary students while a two year course can be used by older students. There is also a one year fast track option.
This affordable program is popular with many homeschool families that are teaching young students or a variety of age groups. It is based on both CDs and books, allowing the student to use a variety of learning techniques.
The students look at pictures while listening to a CD. In this way a child learns the foreign language like he learned his native language; by associating images with sounds and repeating the sounds. There are two books for each level and can be used with children from about first grade on up.
Although this program is a great introduction to the language it is not adequate for the college bound student.
Power Glide Spanish is available in three levels for elementary, junior high, and high school students. It is a computer based program with a variety of interesting activities to engage your child at every level. Games and stories are used and allow your child large amounts of interactive learning. It is an affordable program compared to Rosetta Stone.
One thing that many parents dislike about Power Glide Spanish is that Spanish words are mixed into English sentences. The mentality is that it will ultimately allow the child to get used to using conversational Spanish early in the program but ultimately it can interfere with your child learning to think in the language; a necessary skill for fluency. He will constantly be tempted to translate the words in his head rather than using them comfortably.
On the list of Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks for homeschoolers, this program is immensely popular. It uses the same immersion method used and developed by the United States at the Defense Language Institute (DLIFLIC) to allow military personnel to learn languages very quickly, becoming fluent in less than a year.
The computer based program can be used for several children at once and tracks them individually.
On the negative side, Rosetta Stone is expensive and can cost more than $250.00 per level. Because of the focus and fluent speaking your child may have trouble learning to read and write the language even though he is speaking it almost like a native.
Sonrisa Spanish School
Sonrisa is a unique online school that gives you the necessary tools to teach your child Spanish. Formulated for the preschool and elementary levels, Sonrisa is a combination of activities, stories, art, music, and drama that engages your child's imaginations and utilizes multiple intelligences for deeper retention.
Spanish Town introduces young children to the language and best of all it is a free, online curriculum. Your students will learn colors, numbers, and basic Spanish words. Keep in mind that this in only an introduction; you will want a more intensive curriculum for actually learning the language.
It is best used with children in the first through fourth or fifth grades.
Switched On Schoolhouse Spanish
One of the most affordable options for high school Spanish, Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) by Alpha Omega is a computer based program that allows skill building through plenty of practice and dialogue. The program, like all SOS programs, uses large amounts of multi-media to engage your child and enforce the concepts he is learning. It is a largely independent study that allows your child to progress at his own rate. It is sufficient for the college bound student and one of the least costly options.
This program allows independent learning with interactive lessons and computer based study. Sentence building and communication are stressed, allowing the student to rapidly pick up the ability to speak and read Spanish.
The cost is median; it isn't the most expensive program nor is it the cheapest.
Practice Makes Perfect
It takes practice and dedication to learn any foreign language, whether you have an aptitude for it or not. For the best results your child should work with the language at least 30 minutes a day, every day including the weekends.
It is important that at some point your student begins to think in the language rather than translating the words he hears into English and then back into Spanish and then speaking the answers. The best way to explain it is that it is the same point at which a child finally "gets" reading and it becomes easy.
Look into many different programs, keeping the individual needs of your family in mind, before you decide on the Spanish curriculum that you want to use. The best Spanish curriculum is going to be the one that you feel good about using and your child learns from.