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Category: Foreign Language

One of my obsessions with homeschooling is learning at least one foreign language. Having a Spanish degree, it’s only natural that I’d push Spanish. So I’m always checking out new Spanish curriculum, and by now, we’ve tried quite a few and have stuck with our favorites. But a new one that kept popping up on the forums was The Fun Spanish by Kimberly Garcia. I managed to resist checking it out for quite some time but of course finally succumbed to a Google search. I found it on Amazon in paperback for $17.85, put it in my cart, but there it sat for over a week.

The Fun Spanish

A few days back I tried to find more reviews for the program, and finally found it on a new educational products website – Educents. After googling Educents, finding out they were founded in April 2013 by two women and are a legit company, I added some products to my cart. Wanting to support this cool startup company dedicated to providing K-12 educational resources for extremely affordable prices, I went through and completed the purchase.

Educents

From Oakland Local, 8/6/14

So I got The Fun Spanish in PDF format for only $7.50! Since it was a download, in seconds I was already printing out the book, in minutes started Proclicking it, and now I have an awesome lay-flat Spanish workbook!

The Fun Spanish describes itself…

The Fun Spanish is a fun, beginning Spanish program which teaches Spanish the Charlotte Mason way, one fun phrase at a time. Elementary children read fun Spanish sentences, write fun Spanish sentences, and draw fun silly pictures to aid in memory retention. With The Fun Spanish children draw pictures of green cats, orange rats, fish in trees, and blue houses with wings. Verb conjugations included are the following: ser (to be) , estar (to be), tener (to have), vivir (to live), comer (to eat), jugar (to play), saltar (to jump), ver (to see), oír (to hear), dormir (to sleep) and querer (to want). Besides verb conjugation, prepositions, and a host of vocabulary, children using The Fun Spanish also learn the fundamental structure of Spanish sentences.

Quickly leafing through it, I determined for our purposes it would be a quick Spanish review for Satori. She knows quite a bit of vocabulary and verbs, but needs practice in conjugating verbs. Luckily The Fun Spanish focuses big on Verb Conjugation. There seems to currently only be a Level 1 book out so far, and there are 17 lessons in Level 1, with five Days per lesson, making it a One Semester Curriculum. For children new to Spanish, the book suggests spending two weeks per lesson, reviewing between days, but we won’t need that, this is just a reinforcement and practice on what Satori has learned already.

funspanish1

Each Lesson is broken into five days, which covers two pages of the workbook. The format goes like this:

  1. Verb Conjugation – read, memorize, and copy the verb conjugations
  2. Vocabulary (about 7 words)
  3. Translation Practice – a sentence in English is provided to translate. I add a line to the page for Satori to write down the translation
  4. Model – A longer, descriptive Spanish sentence where the child is to copy the sentence and then draw the picture

The silly sentences in which the child is asked to draw is appealing to children, which earns the book its title. 🙂 Here we have what looks to be an engorged tick, but is really Un gato grande y verde con piernas largas (a green and large cat with long legs).

Un gato grande y verde

 

I think she was trying to make fun of our fat cat Kashi…

 

 

 

kashi

 

As we personally will be using this mostly as verb conjugation review, I’m going to list the verbs once again. Most of these she has learned in Getting Started with Spanish book, but I do see some new ones. I’m looking forward to her getting used to a well-rounded list of useful verbs, including stem-changing, irregular verbs.

  1. ser
  2. estar
  3. tener
  4. vivir
  5. comer
  6. jugar
  7. saltar
  8. ver
  9. oír
  10. dormir
  11. querer

The $7.50 PDF download looks like it will only last for five more days, according to Educents (making it good until 8/23/14), but maybe it will be offered again. It says it is 50% off a price which is still lower than Amazon’s current price.

Hopefully a new Fun Spanish level will be out this winter or early next spring, as I figure this curriculum will be super easy to stick to faithfully each week, and we’ll have completed Level 1 by then.

Recently I heard of a new Spanish curriculum called R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish, a Spanish curriculum specifically tailored to homeschooling families. It looked to be exactly what I was looking for in a Spanish program – flexible, easy to use, affordable, and most importantly, effective in getting our family speaking Spanish! Since a digital download option was offered, I was able to download it on my computer, print it out, and get started within days.

Current Offer on Homeschool Buyers Co-op

We’ve now been using it for a few weeks and have just started Unit 2 (out of ten Units). The reason I want to get this review up quickly is that there is a current offer for Homeschool Spanish on the Homeschool Buyers Coop where you can save 20-40%. As of writing this post, the Digital Format option is halfway to to the 40% off savings, where it would only be $29.97.  There is a good chance it will hit that, and if not, you can commit to purchase only if it reaches 40%. The offer ends this Sunday, June 26 at midnight PST. Normal retail price is $49.95 for the Digital Format. I fully trust and recommend the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, so do not hesitate to order through them if you’re interested in the program.

What You Get

Whether you order from the Homeschool Spanish website or through HSBC, you’ll get two order choices – Digital or Printed Format. For the Digital option, you will get the Instruction Book (Color and BW versions), Activity Book (BW only), Answer Book (BW only), and the Audio Files for all three components. For the Hard copy, you’ll get a Printed Book in b&w as well as 2 CDs for the activity book and audio files.

The website offers free culture links to enhance your Spanish language learning. Some resources include puzzles, maps, games, history, culture, songs, and more.

For those who own Proclick binding systems, it works perfectly, see the above image for our Proclick’ed books. I printed our Book in full color, glossy pages. The whole program is very professionally done and aesthetically pleasing – both the books and the audio files. I was very impressed.

About the Author and her Goals for the program

The author, Dr. Williamson-Coria, was very helpful with my email questions. She has 23 years teaching foreign languages to students and has homeschooled her own children. She designed Homeschool Spanish to enable homeschool parents to learn along with their child and build fluency in actually speaking Spanish. Her focus in this book is using the Spanish language in a conversational manner. Grammar tidbits are offered throughout the book, but it is not a grammar-intensive program.

In this way, the curriculum is extremely flexible. Families can use it from PreK-12. Not many programs are designed to be able to use with a preschooler and a high schooler! Parents not familiar with Spanish will find the included audio files very helpful in learning proper pronunciation.  The Vocabulary and Phrases are presented (both Spanish and English translations) by a native Spanish speaker.

A Peek Inside

The program is divided into ten Units. The units themselves are divided up into sections which include over 30 total Vocabulary Clusters. A high-school student could learn one cluster a week, completing the book in a school year. Dr. Coria says this book is suitable for a 1st year High School course. Elementary students may take 1 1/2 to 3 years to complete the program. A level 2 is in the works. Head to the Samples page to get the full Table of Contents section.

Here’s an sample of the first lesson’s Vocabulary Cluster (click to see larger image). For more samples, check the online Book Sample PDF.

Following the Vocabulary, an Idea section offers several ways to practice and use the new vocabulary. Sample ideas include puppet shows, make your own board games, vocabulary cards, lapbooking, bingo, and a continual emphasis to use the language in everyday conversation.

Although the program doesn’t want to hinder language learning with grammar, Grammar Tidbits (9 sections) are included for the essentials. Unit 10 also has verb work (3 Parts).

The Activity Book is meant to be done independently and includes crossword puzzles, word searches, cryptograms, and more, which correspond to each section of the book. A separate Answer Book will show the answers for the activities. There are several pages included for each Vocabulary section, giving plenty of reading/writing practice. Because it does require reading/writing, young elementary children may not get much use out of it. Satori could do some of the exercises by herself, but may need my help on others. Middle elementary age may be more suitable to start this workbook.

Our Experience So Far

Our experience in Spanish for Satori before using this program has been using Elementary Spanish online. She does it independently, so even though I do have a Spanish degree, I haven’t been using Spanish too much with her. REAL Homeschool Spanish is more interactive, allowing me to know exactly what vocabulary, phrases, and sentences to practice with Satori each week. She knows basic vocabulary, so the first units are mostly review for her. Rather, we will be focusing on using the vocabulary she already knows with dialogue back and forth.

We did get started making our own Vocabulary Cards, I knew Satori would get a kick out of making them. We’ve only written the Spanish words, but will add the English on the back as well soon. It actually was just suggested to me by another happy REAL Homeschool Spanish user to draw pictures when possible instead. By bypassing a translation to English, it will speed the comprehension of the Spanish words. We’ll make faces, use actual colors, write numbers, or draw objects as appropriate.

We are super happy to be using R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish! Out of all the Spanish programs we’ve tried, it’s the only one that really really encourages the whole family to use conversational Spanish at home. It’s pretty much open-and-go for us. When we want to do something more in-depth, it’s chock-full of creative ideas to practice our new vocabulary. It also offers plenty of practice in the Activity Book to read and write Spanish. I don’t actually schedule this program, we’re just taking it day by day.

Families who want to incorporate more grammar might like to use this program along with Getting Started with Spanish, another affordable, easy yet effective Spanish program that is great for homeschoolers.

Satori really enjoys the interaction the program offers and once she saw me pull out the book to write this review, she begged for another Spanish lesson. Halfway through the day, she stole the book off my desk to go off and teach her own (stuffed animal) students Spanish. 🙂

Reminder about the Sale

If you are reading this review in June 2011, you can’t beat the price that HSBC is offering. I believe that sale ends this Sunday, June 26 at midnight. Even if you miss the HSBC sale, for $49.95 you’ll get a great program that should last several years, and get your family speaking Spanish!

 

Elementary Spanish is the main Spanish program we started using last fall. It is just one of the thousands of offerings from Discovery Education Streaming (which we get for $200/year through Homeschool Buyers Co-op).

I don’t think I reviewed this program on our blog, so hopefully this post will give a better idea. Elementary Spanish is a series of online videos, for Grades 1 through 6, with (I believe) 30 units of lessons, and 10 lessons per unit. That makes it 300 20-minute lessons. You do not need to know Spanish yourself. Just download the teacher’s manual, complete with the Vocabulary and Activity Sheets for each lesson, as well as Bulletin Boards, practical resources, Certificates, and tests. We recently finished Unit 1 – ¿Dónde vives? and here is Satori holding up her newly framed certificate. In that unit, we learned Members of the Family, Rooms of the House, and Places to Live.

Unit 2 is Mi Cuerpo, My Body. Here’s a look at the video as Satori watches.

Here’s a sample Activity Sheet to go along with the lesson.

Here is Senora Cana, the maestra (teacher) for Grade 1. For a few of the lessons to learn the body, she’s been playing the Simon Says game to help learn body parts.

We’ve decided to ditch our other spanish program we’re using (La Clase Divertida) as this one is so easy to do and is more a complete program. Each Elementary Spanish lesson gives plenty of review of previous lessons, especially for quick learners, so we’re going to quicken our pace of Elementary Spanish (ES) to two lessons a week.

Here is one of the projects we did to learn about the Day of the Dead, which is covered in detail in Unit 2, Lesson 2. We cut these skeletons out, decorated them, fastened their movable joints, and thread a string through their arms and legs so they move.

Even Daddy participated, with Satori’s decorating help.

Satori enjoyed her lesson so much, she wrote up a page summary on The Day of the Dead.

Coincidentally, Satori got a gift from Daddy, who has been working in Mexico the past month. He didn’t even know we covered the lesson on the Day of the Dead, and he got her this little frame with a dancing skeleton.

We started Song School Latin two months ago and although I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to start Latin with my then 5 year old, it has been a success! Satori loves it. This main program consists of this student workbook (you don’t really need the teacher’s manual) and a CD. The CD has all the catchy songs that make learning Latin fun and easy!

Here’s a sample page:

We’re now on Chapter 11 and are learning common commands.

Satori uses her Latin everyday and loves to teach others Latin as well. She has been including it in her writing and drawings even. 🙂

We only recently remembered we have these flashcards, so we’ll start using them now.

We are also simultaneously doing La Clase Divertida and Elementary Spanish on Discovery Streaming. I will blog about these on a later date. She loves learning new languages.