Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

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 >

At Sonrisas Spanish School we believe that Spanish should be used as consistently as possible in your classes. Students will be more motivated to learn Spanish when they see, through your example, that Spanish is fun, useful, and has many purposes.

Speak Spanish a minimum of 90% of the time in your class. This is the recommended usage that ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) suggests, and we believe this is absolutely attainable. In the Sonrisas curricula all of the games, activities, songs, stories, and art projects utilize visuals, props, gestures, body movement, modeling, routine, and repetitive language to make More >

I was doing some end of the year/semester contemplation, and I was thinking about the questions, “Why do we teach foreign language to children? What is so important about it?”. We have addressed this question before in the Sonrisas blog—mostly by writing about the different benefits of foreign language education for kids. I would like to present an easy, short list of the top five reasons to teach foreign language to children:

  1. Because they love it. Kids love learning languages. They just do. You see it when you teach them, and you see it when they use their second language. There More >

Review by Brooks Lindner

Pinta ratones is the Spanish version of Ellen Stoll Walsh’s book Mouse Paint, first published in 1989 and translated by Gerardo Cabello, an editor with the Fondo de Cultura Económica of Mexico. A simple, fun, and engaging story, Pinta ratones is an excellent tool for teaching Spanish to children.

Pinta ratones tells the tale of three white mice who are able to hide from the cat by blending in with a white piece of paper. One day, as the cat sleeps, the mice find three jars of paint: one red, one yellow, and one blue. They think that it is mouse paint, More >