Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Teaching Tips from Sonrisas Spanish

From Our Classrooms to Yours

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 >

Review by Brooks Lindner

¡A comer! has always been one of our favorite children’s Spanish books. The author, Ana Zamorano, was born in Madrid but resides in Sidney, Australia. ¡A comer! is her picture of Spanish life told through the eyes of Salvador, the youngest in a family of seven. The illustrator, Julie Vivas, uses beautiful watercolor illustrations to present the setting of a traditional, small Spanish town, and throughout the book she does a wonderful job of capturing the emotions of the different family members.

¡A comer! begins with Salvador telling the reader about his family and how every day, at 2:00 in the More >

Review by Brooks Lindner, Spanish teacher and co-author of the Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum

Arriba y abajo comes to us from Everest Editorial based in León, España. The Spanish in this book is rich and authentic with phrases such as, “Aquí arriba toco la corteza de los árboles y sus ramas que se inclinan con el viento.” The most remarkable thing though about Arriba y abajo are the colorful, captivating illustrations. In the book a father and son compare and contrast the different worlds of their senses “up here” and “down here.” The illustrations are done in pastels with broad brushstrokes, and More >

Review by Brooks Lindner

Margarita y Margaret by Lynn Reiser has long been my go-to book for the beginning of the school year. It tells the story of two young girls whose mothers take them to the park even though they do not want to go because they each are worried that there will be no one to play with. In the park they meet and quickly realize that one of them speaks only English and the other only Spanish. After timidly introducing themselves, they begin to play together, learn some of each other’s language, and then become good friends.

The simple More >

Authors: Stella Blackstone and Maria Carluccio

Review by Blue Lindner

Thank heavens Barefoot Publishing decided to keep this indispensable book in print. Very few children’s books run through every month of the year with such engaging, jam-packed illustrations.

I use this book with all of my elementary Spanish students (currently ranging 6-13), and it can certainly be used with preschool Spanish students as well. It is an excellent resource to accompany the calendar activities in the Sonrisas Spanish School Level I and Level II curricula. It is specifically recommended for Sonrisas Level II, Lesson 26.

Starting with January, each page brings a playful illustration of More >

This is the third part in a series of tips for teaching Spanish to preschool and elementary students. 

1. WATCH YOUR PACING—One of the biggest challenges with teaching young children is keeping them engaged. Your pacing has a lot to do with this. Keep your lesson moving so that your students feel like they are doing one exciting thing after another. Be flexible enough so that if your students’ attention starts to wander, you can stop what you are doing and move on to something else. Most important, pay attention to your students and adjust your pacing to their needs.

2. PLAY WITH More >

This is the second part in a series of tips for teaching Spanish to young children. You can employ these tips everyday in your preschool and elementary Spanish classes. Read Part Three.

1. BE DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE—When you are teaching young children a second language, it is not developmentally appropriate to explicitly teach grammar. Student workbooks are not effective either—it does not benefit students’ language acquisition to regurgitate isolated vocabulary on a worksheet. What is appropriate is giving children the opportunity to use their second language in a practical way in fun and meaningful contexts with lots of repetition.

2. MAKE CONNECTIONS—Connect the language to your More >

De la cabeza a los pies by Eric Carle

Review by Blue Lindner

There are many reasons why Eric Carle is one of the most popular children’s literature authors in the world. His art is expressive, bright, and captivating. His stories are simple yet engaging. His themes are universal—speaking to children of any culture in any language. For a second language learner, the text is concise and repetitive—two fabulous qualities for a language teaching tool.

Throughout the years I have used many of Eric Carl’s books to teach Spanish to young children. De la cabeza a los pies might be my favorite book of his More >