Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

Occasionally I will have a parent of one of my early elementary students express concern that his child is not using grammar correctly when speaking Spanish that he/she has learned in class. Many times this comes from the student using incorrect noun-adjective agreement or incorrect verb usage or conjugation. This gives me the opportunity to remind the parent that at this early level of language learning, communication is the key.

In the first place, students are not learning any explicit grammar at this level. This is by design. Rather than teaching explicit grammar, students benefit much more from having the opportunity More >

One of the best things about teaching Spanish to young children is how much fun you can have with them. Of course we have goals for our students, and we want them to achieve the objectives for our classes, but sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture. Part of the big picture is that children have a positive experience learning a foreign language. This will increase the chances of them becoming life-long language learners. You can give your students a positive foreign language experience by having fun with them in class and by expressing your More >

In general, children thrive when they have routine and structure. Every Sonrisas lesson consists of the same structure: Greeting and Roll Call, Circle Time, Story Time, Art Time, and Good-bye. Having a consistent routine and structure for your classroom will not only benefit your students, but also make teaching easier.

Establish a consistent routine and structure for your Spanish class. Language acquisition increases when children are able to take risks and experiment with language—and that happens when they are in a safe and comfortable environment. You can create this environment by establishing a consistent routine and structure. Students can then predict what More >

At Sonrisas Spanish we have always resisted the idea of using technology to teach Spanish to young children. This of course goes against the strong national trend to incorporate more and more technology into education. It is not that we are anti-technology, but rather we feel that it is very important that technology is used appropriately for language learning—especially for young language learners. What this means to us is that technology is not used to take the place of a teacher.

We feel strongly that language learning for young children is most effective when students are taught by a human. The More >

We have written a lot about reading children’s Spanish literature, but the subject bears repeating. Spanish literature has always been a central component of the Sonrisas Curriculum. Just as many children learn a lot about their first language through reading, so too can your students learn a lot about their second language through reading. The power of reading Spanish to your students lies in the ability of a story to deeply connect students to the content of a lesson by engaging their imaginations in an authentic Spanish experience. Children love being read to; they easily enter into the realm of More >

We continue our discussion on using repetition in the Sonrisas Curriculum:

The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum makes it easy to repeat previously-learned material each lesson through songs, games, activities, and stories. Frequent, everyday repetition should occur in each lesson that you teach. This is simply a matter of reviewing performance guidelines taught in previous lessons in each subsequent lesson. The review can occur through the repetition of songs, games, and activities and through using shared reading strategies. It’s amazing to see how this kind of repetition solidifies comprehension and language usage—students rely less on imitation as they acquire fluency with repeated language More >

We have posted before on the importance of repetition in preschool and elementary Spanish, but the subject itself deserves repetition. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum.

Repetition in language learning is critical. Every Sonrisas lesson includes a communication objective with performance guidelines for achieving the objective. It’s not realistic to think that second-language learners are going to integrate the performance guidelines into their comprehension and language usage immediately after completing any given lesson. This is where repetition comes in. Annual repetition, as well as frequent, lesson-by-lesson repetition, must occur for students to achieve More >

When you stay in Spanish in your class, your students will be more motivated to learn Spanish because they will see, through your example, that Spanish is fun, useful, and has many purposes. This is why it is so important to make speaking Spanish fun for your students. One of the joys of teaching Spanish is that speaking Spanish is fun. Whether you are a native Spanish speaker or it’s your second language, it’s important that you convey your excitement and interest in Spanish—by your attitude in class, by connecting your students to the Spanish-speaking community in your town, and by More >

If you are worried about keeping your class entirely in Spanish, just remember: You are teaching Spanish! One of the most effective ways to do this is simply to provide a model of using Spanish for everything you do in your class. Again we refer to Helena Curtain’s article “Teaching in the Target Language,” for these very useful tips:

Make the language comprehensible.

  • Use simple, direct language and choose vocabulary and structures that incorporate a large amount of material that is familiar to the learners.
  • Break down directions and new information into small, incremental steps.
  • Use concrete materials, visuals, gestures, facial expressions, and movement.
  • Model More >