Sonrisas Spanish Blog

As we plan Spanish Camp, we are lucky enough to live in a small community that was a part of Mexico at one time. For this reason we have many old timers whose first language was Spanish. We are inviting several of them to come and talk about their experiences growing up here, and how the community has changed or remained the same. It occured to me that a good number of small towns and cities alike in our country have Spanish language heritage with members of each community that can share this local culture with the children learning Spanish.

We have finished up our school year at Sonrisas. Our end of the year plays were fun and rewarding. It’s always great to see your students acting in Spanish and having fun. We will be doing Spanish Camp this summer and revising our preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum to make it even better. Lots of work, but we are committed to making Sonrisas the best Spanish curriculum available. Hooray for summer!

As the school year winds down, there are usually a lot of end of the year programs, plays, etc. that happen—including in Spanish class. Drama can be an excellent tool for your Spanish students to integrate the Spanish they have learned throughout the year. The language that they have learned all year can be brought to life in a play. When a Spanish student has to learn lines in Spanish and act based on Spanish directives, it challenges their comprehension and pronunciation and engages them in higher learning skills such as synthesis and analysis. As you practice a play in Spanish, you can see a lot of “aha!” moments as the students figure out what it is they are saying and how they need to act to convey the part they are doing. We can see that the communication and comparison standards are addressed thoroughly with drama.  As a teacher, it is always very satisfying to see your students not only having fun with the language, but also integrating it into a performance where they are able to deeply absorb the language and present it to an audience.

Yesterday, when I started my Cinco de Mayo lesson, I was reminded of how kids generally like a good battle. Aside from all of the traditional cultural elements of the holiday, kids like hearing about the battle of Puebla and how the Mexicans were outnumbered and outgunned, but they still beat the French. They really get fired up about it. I like to make the point to my students that if the French would have won, then we probably would not be learning Spanish but rather French. I also tell them about the popularity of the holiday in the United States, and how we should be very thankful to the Mexicans for winning the battle of Puebla because if the French would have conquered Mexico, then they probably would have tried to conquer the United States as well. Cinco de Mayo presents so many learning opportunities for elementary Spanish students.

A concept that has been on my mind while I’ve been planning my Spanish lessons and teaching lately is that I need to keep my tendency to over-plan in check. To teach one thing well is hundreds of times more valuable than teaching 10 things not so well. Three strategies I’m working on: slowing down conversations in Spanish, checking for understanding more thoroughly, and coming back to review concepts regularly. Before I begin my class I ask myself, what is the one language concept I want to introduce, one I want to reinforce, and one I want to review? If I can do this well, then my class is a success.

I am so grateful to have found the secret for curing spring fever in my students. Every teacher knows what I’m talking about. A class that used to be fun becomes a torturous hour that each student would rather spend outside running around in the sunshine. The answer is drama. A play gives them a creative, energetic, meaningful experience to bring the focus back on learning Spanish. When children act in Spanish, they not only speak and listen, they take their skills to another level. Drama creates an opportunity for students to integrate and synthesize the various language skills they have been working on all year. They rise to the occasion. The play that’s included in our Spanish Cultural Curriculum, El gallo de bodas, is an excellent spring play. This year, however, my students are writing their own per their request, and this is taking their linguistic and cultural understanding to an even higher level. One boy in my class took it upon hisself (outside of classroom time) to figure out how many Costa Rican colones would buy a handful of candy, adding a level of authenticity to the scene that takes place in a Costa Rican store.

My students are groaning when class is over, despite that fact that the sunshine and green grass should be calling them away. So if your students are suffering from spring fever, try putting on a spring play and see if it cures them.

We are on Spring break this week, so we get a little break from teaching. We are new to blogging, so our posts are kind of sporadic right now, but we will be posting more consistently in the near future with relevant content for Spanish teachers and parents teaching children Spanish. We are working on publishing an article for NNELL on teaching culture. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Spring.

Hello world!

Hola Sonrisas customers,

We are happy to be launching our new website. It is our hope that your experience browsing our site will convince you that Sonrisas is the best elementary and preschool Spanish curriculum available. Written by teachers for teachers! Soon we will be posting blogs related to Spanish language learning for children. Please leave us a comment to let us know what you think about our site and our curricula.

Saludos,
Brooks and Blue Lindner