Sonrisas Spanish Blog

We continue with our series on engaging the imagination through the senses. In this post: HEAR

There are many opportunities for you to activate strong audio-sensory experiences in your preschool and elementary Spanish lessons. When teaching the lesson Yo veo in Sonrisas Level I, for example, you can say to your students, “¡Escuchen!” When everyone’s quiet, you can make your best monkey sound and exclaim, “¡El mono! Vamos a encontrar el mono!” Throughout the classroom, you can tape pictures of plants and animals that live in a Costa Rican rainforest. You can then ask,”¿Dónde está el mono?,” and then hand each student a cardboard toilet paper tube telescope to help find the monkey. When a student finds the monkey’s picture on the wall, you can then say,“Juan ve el mono y yo veo el mono también.” You can then say, “¡Escuchen!” again, followed by your best parrot squawk, and exclaim, “¡El loro! Vamos a encontrar el loro.” The class then goes through the same routine with a jaguar and a frog, and finally, rain.

This is just an example of experiences you can create in your classroom to engage multiple senses, including hearing. Musical instruments, rain sticks, and animal sounds can all be added to lessons to engage students’ imaginations. Having students close their eyes, listen, and share what they hear can be effective and fun. You can ask yourself, “How can my students use their sense of hearing in this language lesson to make it more imaginative?”

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction.

We continue with our series on engaging the imagination through the senses. In this post: FEEL

You can give students the experience of feeling the language in so many ways. For example, during calendar activities, when asking the question, “¿Qué tiempo hace?,” you can open the window so students can feel the weather. Saying “Hace frío y hace viento,” gives context and meaning to the experience. You can also bring in relevant objects to the lesson that students can pass around and touch. When teaching clothing, for example, you can provide a bag of clothes for students to try on during the activity. When teaching Limpio y sucio in Sonrisas Level I, you can have students rub cloth in the mud to experience the feel of “dirty” in contrast to the feel of “clean.” In each lesson, you can ask yourself, “How can I give my students the experience of ‘feeling’ the language?”

Sonrisas Spanish Schoolcreates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction.

In the previous post we were talking about the importance of students connecting to the content of a lesson. One of the benefits of reading quality children’s Spanish literature in your elementary Spanish class is its ability to provide this connection. There are many other benefits to reading children’s Spanish literature in your elementary Spanish class, and we’re going to start looking at them in a four to five part series.

With each distinct book, students are exposed to a distinct voice, style, and vocabulary. Each author’s vocabulary, dialect, and style provide a very different linguistic experience. By reading diverse books to Spanish learners, you can expose your students to a diversity of Spanish expression to which your students would not likely otherwise have access. For example, a teacher from Mexico can read literature written by Cuban and Spanish authors and expose her students to voice, style, and vocabulary that the teacher couldn’t otherwise express. Spanish in particular is spoken by so many people from so many distinct cultures, that without using diverse literature in the classroom, you may limit your students’ overall language-learning experience with your own dialect, vocabulary, and voice. In her article, “Teaching in the Target Language,” Helena Curtain writes about the teacher as the “culture bearer,” that is, the representative of culture in the classroom. Every time you read a book written in a distinct voice, you represent another Spanish voice, style, and vocabulary to your students. In other words, you are acting as the culture bearer.

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction.

Reading children’s Spanish literature is a critical aspect of the Sonrisas Approach. We have taken a lot of time to find quality children’s books in Spanish to read in the Sonrisas lessons. One of our mantras at Sonrisas Spanish School is “If we can find a good book, then we can teach a great lesson.”

A prerequisite for an effective elementary Spanish lesson is the opportunity for students to connect with the content of the lesson. If they can’t connect with the content, there is no way for them to engage. And without engagement, they simply won’t learn. Children love books, and a great book creates an immediate connection for them. Many great children’s books are distinguished by the quality of their illustrations. Children are drawn into the story, theme, and mood of the book through pictures. And when the text is in Spanish, children have the opportunity to engage in an authentic Spanish experience.

According to ACTFL, (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language) an “authentic” text is defined as a text prepared by and for native speakers of the target language. According to this definition, children’s Spanish literature is an ideal authentic text for teaching elementary Spanish to children. Even children’s books that have been translated into Spanish can be authentic texts. The themes in quality children’s books are universal, and children of all cultures can appreciate them. As long as the translation is true to the story and well-written (which usually means that it has been translated by a native speaker), the book can engage children and transcend cultural barriers.

The definition of literature that we embrace is all writing considered to have permanent value, excellence of form, and great emotional effect. We scrutinize each book used in the Sonrisas lessons to ensure they stand up to these standards. Reading high-quality literature to your students offers them the opportunity to connect to the content of the lesson and offers several other benefits to the elementary Spanish language classroom as well. More on these benefits in the next post.

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction.