Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

  Meet Debra Fehl

Debra has been teaching elementary Spanish at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, NJ for six years. She started her career teaching literature, reading, and writing in grades 7-12. She then worked as an assistant in Pre-K at Rutgers Preparatory School where she learned all about early childhood development from the lead teacher. When the school needed a Spanish teacher, Debra stepped in to fill the position. Debra appreciates the cultural diversity at Rutgers Preparatory School and the fact that the school offers Spanish at the elementary level and five different world languages at the secondary level. Rutgers Preparatory School More >

One of the things that we talk about a lot here at Sonrisas Spanish is how learning a second language is a long-term endeavor. Many parents and administrators have the expectation of seeing results right away simply by putting their child in a Spanish class or making an elementary Spanish curriculum available. Teachers know the truth—that learning a second language takes time, consistent effort, and lots of repetition. The Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum provides an effective program in which preschool and elementary students acquire Spanish naturally with consistent instruction, age-appropriate activities, and lots of repetition. As you have been teaching this year, More >

Feeling Unsettled About a Trend

When I was in high school I placed third in a state-wide essay contest by writing a paper that argued all the reasons why two years in French or Spanish was not an adequate foreign language offering at our high school. I argued that students should be able to take at least three years of Spanish or French. Now, at the same high school, students can take as many years as they want of various world languages through an online program. And yet, if they want to study a second language with a fluent, living, human More >

Over the years, one of the most common questions we have received from teachers looking for elementary Spanish curriculum is, “Do you have student workbooks?” For many years, our reply was, “no.” We were hesitant to create one because the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum was designed in a way that workbook activities weren’t really necessary. The lessons were designed so that the teacher could check for understanding orally through the activities and also through the one-on-one work built into the art projects. We didn’t want to encourage teachers to replace any component of the lesson with a workbook activity that didn’t provide More >

The Sonrisas Level II lessons are divided into seven thematic units. We designed these themes to have relevance in the context of young students’ lives. In each unit, students interpret written and spoken language, engage in conversations, and present information using background knowledge from their own lives while learning new language concepts. This allows them to acquire meaningful and useful language skills, rather than merely learning vocabulary in isolation. All of the thematic units are centered around one big idea, or central question, “What are the experiences that make us human?”

One of the biggest differences between humans and animals, plants, or More >

Nineteen years ago I started teaching Spanish to elementary and preschool students in Austin, TX. At the time, I did it because I was asked to by parents. Parents in my neighborhood wanted their children to learn Spanish. I was a certified ELL, bilingual elementary and early childhood teacher, and so I started teaching Spanish to youngsters.

I now find myself living and working in a community in Colorado where parents, not schools, are still leading the charge to get their children learning foreign languages in elementary school. I’ve read all the research behind early exposure to second language learning, but More >

One of the important changes in the recent revisions of Sonrisas Level I and Sonrisas Level II is the addition of the student assessment pages in the student portfolios. They serve as valuable summative assessments for teachers and students. Combined with ongoing formative assessments, the new student assessment pages contribute to the effectiveness of the Sonrisas Curriculum. Below is an explanation of how to use the different assessment pieces while implementing the curriculum.

In the Sonrisas Curriculum, you can assess your students’ progress using both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are ongoing assessments that monitor student learning and guide instruction. The goals for More >

The lessons in the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum give students an opportunity to interact in all three modes of communication—interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. The three modes of communication describe how learners use and interact with language in real-world contexts. Here, we present a brief overview of these modes and the types of activities in our curriculum that engage them.

In Interpretive Communication students comprehend written, oral, or visual communication on a variety of topics without any active negotiation of meaning. In the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum students engage in this mode by listening to stories, reading brief text excerpts and viewing images in various More >

Sonrisas Spanish is going through a big transition right now. We have completely revised our Level II Curriculum, and we have changed what is included with our Level I and Level II curricula. These changes are the culmination of over a year’s worth of research and development, and they represent an effort to make our curriculum more user-friendly and complete for teachers and more effective for students.

What is included with the curriculum now?

We heard from many of customers that they wanted workbook activities for their students. We listened, and we developed our Student Portfolio for Levels I and II (we More >

You probably are without even realizing it, because it just makes sense. In her book, Beyond Bilingualism: Multilingualism and Multilingual Education, Myriam Met describes what content-based language instruction looks like. Content-based language instruction reflects the real-life language needs of students.1 This is consistent with a focus on communicative language as opposed to language skills in isolation. It provides students with the opportunity to use language as it functions in the real world. Content-based instruction allows the teacher to communicate authentic meanings, for authentic purposes, and to accomplish authentic tasks. A teacher takes a thematic and a problem-solving approach to curriculum More >