Sonrisas Spanish Blog

Home Page ImageOnce again summer is coming to a close, and it is time to start planning and prepping for a new school year. Summer break is a valuable time for teachers to relax, reflect, and recharge. Hopefully you are feeling rejuvenated and excited about the year to come and all the rewards that it has to offer. As you get ready to teach your Spanish classes, here are five things you can do to plan and prep for your Sonrisas Spanish lessons:

  1. Read the introduction to your teachers manual thoroughly. The introduction is an in-depth look at the methodologies and implementation of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. The perspective you will gain from reading the introduction will make your lessons more effective and will provide you with knowledge that will be useful when talking to parents, administrators, and colleagues about your classes. Reading the introduction to the Sonrisas teacher’s manual is like taking a class on how to teach Spanish to children.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the activities in the lessons and practice them. Every lesson in Sonrisas Level I and Level II has a main lesson activity that introduces the language concepts. Some of the activities are simple, some are more complex. Become familiar with the activities, and even practice them beforehand. This will insure that they will go smoothly and that your students will benefit from them.
  3. Use the music CD’s as a resource to learn the songs and sing them yourself with your students while you perform the accompanying movement and gestures. This is way more effective than playing the songs on a player for your students. Your teacher’s manual has a section that contains the lyrics to the songs and the directions for all the movement and gestures that go along with the songs. The movement and gestures provide comprehensible input for your students, and they connect the language to your students’ physical bodies. This is a very important component of early childhood language acquisition.
  4. Start gathering art supplies for the art projects. There is an art supply list in the appendices of your teacher’s manual. Look at this as a starting point. Review the first several art projects that you will do and make sure you have the supplies for them. Most of the necessary supplies are common school supplies such as crayons, construction paper, and glue.
  5. Before you teach any given lesson, read the accompanying storybook. The storybooks that you read during the Story Time segment of each lesson have been chosen based on their effectiveness at teaching Spanish to children. They contain elements such as illustrations that convey the meaning of the text, repetitive text, and familiar, age-appropriate themes. The storybooks give your students an authentic experience with Spanish, and they engage your students’ imaginations in Spanish. When you are familiar with the book, you can use your tone, facial expression, and gestures to create an engaging and effective storytelling experience.

 

Remember that we are always available for any questions or support that you may need in teaching the Sonrisas Spanish lessons. Feel free to contact us anytime.

(970) 946-9780

info@sonrisasspanish.com

spanish for preschoolersThe way that young children soak up a foreign language often seems effortless, especially to those of us who struggled with Intro to Spanish in high school or college. This means that earlier is better when it comes to starting a Spanish curriculum for children, or a curriculum in any other foreign language, for that matter. Children naturally acquire language skills over their first eight years of life. They learn primarily through things like imitation, repetition, songs, Spanish story books, and games — but, experts say, kids begin to lose their natural language acumen between the ages of 8 and 12, making foreign language acquisition more difficult if they don’t already have a solid foundation.

At Sonrisas, we believe strongly in the benefits of early foreign language adoption, which is why we provide ample materials for Spanish for preschoolers. And one new school in Pennsylvania will be founded on the principles of bilingual instruction. According to TribLive.com, Petit Paris is a French-English bilingual preschool opening later this month in Greensburg, PA. It may be a different language than the preschool Spanish lessons we offer, but the results are equally impressive.

“I definitely see a benefit to having dual languages at a young age,” said the mother of one of the school’s enrollees, Harper Watson, who already speaks French pretty well for a four-year-old. “She’s flexible in the way she thinks and is a little bit more creative.”

Whether you’re talking about preschool French lessons or Spanish for preschoolers, the advantages are the same. Acquisition of one foreign language leads to easier fluency in a second foreign language, studies have found. It works in the other direction, as well, helping to boost language arts proficiency in the child’s native tongue.

“Research has shown students who study languages score higher in creativity and problem-solving,” said Nancy Rhodes, a senior consultant for world language education at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. “Learning a second language actually enhances their native language skills.”

Teaching young children a foreign language offers a wealth of advantages beyond just equipping them to communicate with Spanish or French speakers later in life. It actually increases their overall language acquisition skills and boosts their creativity. With easy-to-use preschool Spanish lessons from Sonrisas, you can help children get started at home or in the classroom.

preschool spanish lessons Learning a foreign language is one of the most fun and exciting experiences to embark upon. It can also be one of the most difficult for some people. That’s where we come in. There are plenty of different ways to go about learning a language like Spanish, but our elementary school Spanish curriculum, Spanish story books, and homeschool Spanish curriculum are some of the best tools on the market to do just that. It’s also one of the reasons more and more parents are starting their children with preschool Spanish lessons to get an even earlier jump.

Preschool Spanish lessons from Sonrisas are the perfect way to get your child interested and excited about learning a new language. Our programs are designed specifically to engage and build a fundamental understanding of the language, compared to many “curricula” that rely almost exclusively on things like raw memorization and flashcards.

There are plenty of different reasons to get your child started on preschool Spanish lessons from Sonrisas, but here is a couple of the most important.

  1. Culture and Diversity: The world is becoming smaller and smaller every day through technology and things like social media. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important for children to grow up in an environment where cultural diversity and learning about foreign places is encouraged. In fact, more than two-thirds of the world’s children are bilingual, according to the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Now consider that in the U.S., only about 17% of the population can speak another language besides English. We have a lot of catching up to do if we want to stay at the forefront of global communication, trade, business, and overall interaction. It’s up to the next generation to spearhead this effort and what better way to start than with preschool Spanish lessons for your child.
  2. Easier to Learn: As most people are well-aware by now, learning a foreign language only gets more difficult the older you get. Most experts suggest starting a child before the age of 10, but if you can start them even earlier — say around five — you’re only increasing their odds of success. There’s more than just anecdotal evidence to back this up, too. Children actually lose the ability to hear and reproduce new sounds like they did when they were younger between the ages of eight and 12. This makes learning a new language after this not impossible, but certainly much harder.
  3. Increase Intelligence Overall: Not only has it been proven that learning a second language makes it easier to learn a third, but there have been studies to suggest learning a new language can boost your intelligence overall. Preschool Spanish lessons can help give your child the jumpstart they need to succeed with ease in various other aspects of education and learning.

The U.S. has been slow to catch up with other countries when it comes to bilingual education, but that doesn’t have to be the case with your son or daughter. Even if you don’t have the time to homeschool them, our preschool Spanish lessons are perfect for spending 30 minutes or a couple of hours after school. Not only are our preschool Spanish lessons a great learning tool, they’re also an excellent way to get some quality bonding time with your child.

Sun  Meet Sonja Whisman

Sonja began teaching in southern California in the early 90´s where she taught primary classes in grades K-3 (one being a K-2 combo for native speakers in Spanish). In the mid 90’s she moved to Texas and then Iowa where she home-schooled her children for seven years. Sonja worked as a substitute in Iowa, and as the local school districts learned that she could speak Spanish, she was called frequently for long-term Spanish substitute teaching jobs. She found that she really enjoyed it, and she discovered that the Midwest has vibrant foreign language programs. She enjoyed teaching Spanish so much that she went back to college to earn her Spanish language teaching credential for Iowa. Sonja’s first position was at Goodrell International Baccalaureate middle school in Des Moines, Iowa. Three years ago she moved to Arizona and was hired last year to teach Spanish at Mountain View Preparatory International Baccalaureate school in Cottonwood. IB schools require a foreign language to be taught at all levels. Sonja currently teaches Spanish for grades K-8 using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. She teaches the primary grades twice per week for 30 minutes and the upper grades twice per week for 40 minutes.

Book  How Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Sonja

Sonja appreciates the organization and natural approach of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. She enjoys the songs, games, books to read, and art projects. She really loves the time that the independent projects give her to check each student’s understanding, one-on-one. She uses the curriculum suggestions for how to teach the different segments of the lessons, such as Circle Time, and she appreciates the focus on teaching to the multiple intelligences. Sonja uses Sonrisas Spanish in all grades and supplements the curriculum with additional vocabulary and grammatical concepts for her upper grades. Being a musician herself, her favorite part of the curriculum is the music, which she uses with all her classes—accompanying the class on her ukulele. She enjoys repeating the songs through the grade levels and believes that this repetition is helpful for her students. Sonja says, “Families who have siblings at our school have enjoyed the fact that their older and younger children can sing together at home and report that they frequently do (as well as reenact different lessons and activities)!” For Sonja, the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum has been fun to implement, easy to apply and easy to adapt. Her principal and the entire staff at Mountain View Preparatory have been very pleased with the results, and they are happy to have happy students of all ages enjoying Spanish.

lightbulb4  Teaching Tips from Sonja

Being a former English language Spalding-style reading teacher, Sonja feels that consistent practice in physically making the sound-symbol connection in any language is important. She includes in each day a short practice of sounding, writing, counting out (each student with a whiteboard and dry erase marker), and pronouncing current vocabulary words or sentences syllable by syllable. During the “sílabas” portion of class, students eagerly learn how to use the Spanish articles, other grammatical concepts, and new vocabulary. The entire school (460+ students) has responded very favorably to this, saying that this practice helps them very much with learning new words, understanding how Spanish words are written, and knowing what is expected from them on their independent work.

Sonja also has interpreted and incorporated many concepts and practices of Chris Biffle’s Whole Brain Teaching into her Spanish lessons, which has added another level of fun and motivation. (She says, “As if the Sonrisas Curriculum needed any more!”) These class management methods and techniques for good teaching incorporate a lot of physical movement and verbal response, keeping “teacher talk” down to around 50%.

heart4  What Inspires Sonja

Sonja loves to see children using their creative juices as they learn a foreign language because she feels that it gives them a feeling of freedom—that it is ok to try things, that it is ok to make mistakes, and that it is ok to have fun—all at the same time. She believes that barriers to learning come down as children express themselves in music, art, dramatizing the lyrics to a song, or performing skits. This seems to her to be the most natural and painless way to learn a language. She feels that learning a new language should be something like going on an interesting journey.

If you would like to connect with Sonja, you can do so by finding her on Facebook or by visiting the Mountain View Preparatory website at http://mvp.cocsd.us/ .

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher honors exceptional teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum by telling their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

spanish curriculumThere are virtually an infinite number of reasons for someone to want to learn a foreign language. Anything from upcoming travel plans to general enjoyment and everything in between. Learning a new language is one of the most fulfilling and potentially beneficial things you can do for your personal, intellectual, and professional development. In fact, children who learn a second language can typically learn a third even easier and on average, bilingual employees earn about 20% more than their monolingual counterparts.

At Sonrisas, we specialize in Spanish curriculum for kids and younger children. This is the time when it’s easiest and most effective to learn. Some people suggest you start children at the age of five on a preschool Spanish curriculum, but at least before the age of 10 is ideal.

However, as experts in the foreign language learning business, we love to hear about people of all ages learning new languages and the subsequent cultures behind them. That’s why when the foreign language app for mobile phones and devices called Duolingo came out, we were cautiously optimistic. Learning a new language as an older or young adult can be extremely difficult, but it seems that this mobile app, which lends itself to the Millennial generation, has become popular and successful at helping people do just that.

According to a piece from Quartz based on numbers provided by Duolingo, Spanish curriculum’s are still one of the most popular options for new learners everywhere. The company analyzed some of their data and found that of the 120 million users they currently boast, Spanish was the third most popular option behind only English and French. Among users only in the United States, Spanish was the number one choice.

This indicates that not only is learning Spanish a valuable commodity on a global scale, it’s crucial for U.S. residents. This only begs the question, why wait until your child gets older and past the time frame when it is much easier for them to learn a new language? Invest in a homeschool Spanish curriculum today and get your child started off early. If this data is any indication, they’re going to wind up trying to learn it on their own at some point down the line anyway.

Make it easier and more enjoyable for them in the long run by investing in a Spanish curriculum from Sonrisas today.

Fehl photo2Sun  Meet Debra Fehl

Debra has been teaching elementary Spanish at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, NJ for six years. She started her career teaching literature, reading, and writing in grades 7-12. She then worked as an assistant in Pre-K at Rutgers Preparatory School where she learned all about early childhood development from the lead teacher. When the school needed a Spanish teacher, Debra stepped in to fill the position. Debra appreciates the cultural diversity at Rutgers Preparatory School and the fact that the school offers Spanish at the elementary level and five different world languages at the secondary level. Rutgers Preparatory School is the oldest independent school in New Jersey—celebrating their 250th anniversary this year! Debra teaches Spanish in grades K thru 5th with a schedule that goes from teaching twice per week for 30 minutes in the early grades to teaching three to five times per week for 45 minutes in the upper grades.

Book  How Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Debra

Debra appreciates the organization of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. She likes how each lessons spells out which songs to sing, which books to read, and which projects to do. She finds it helpful that the curriculum explains how to teach the different segments of the lessons, such as Circle Time, and she likes how the curriculum connects to methodologies such as teaching to the multiple intelligences. Debra uses Sonrisas Spanish 100% for her early grades and implements different parts of the curriculum for her upper grades. Her favorite part of the curriculum is the music and the books which she uses with all her classes—she enjoys repeating the songs through all the grades and believes that this repetition is helpful for her students. For Debra, the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum has been easy to apply and easy to adapt.

lightbulb4  Teaching Tips from Debra

Debra uses puppets or stuffed animals to engage her students in conversation. For example: she will have her young students greet a puppet and introduce themselves to it using the phrase, “Hola Señor Plátano, me llamo ___.” She repeats this activity for up to six months until her students have mastered this very practical language usage. Debra also uses a mystery box to practice vocabulary with her students. They get to pull an object out of the mystery box, and then they say, “Yo tengo ___.” Debra emphasizes that she tries to keep her classes as fun as possible. She believes that speaking a new language can be intimidating for students, so she tries to make it as enjoyable and comfortable for them as she can.

heart4  What Inspires Debra

Debra is inspired by getting to watch children of all ages learn a new language through play and music. She says, “I get to set the tone for them, for years to come, that learning a new language and culture is fun and exciting, and it opens new doors for them.” Debra truly gets a lot of pleasure out of watching how much children can enjoy learning—and that inspires us.

If you would like to connect with Debra, you can do so by clicking on her social media links or by visiting the Rutgers Preparatory School websitefb  twitter  insta

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher honors exceptional teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum by telling their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

 

Fehl photo2Sun  Meet Debra Fehl

Debra has been teaching elementary Spanish at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, NJ for six years. She started her career teaching literature, reading, and writing in grades 7-12. She then worked as an assistant in Pre-K at Rutgers Preparatory School where she learned all about early childhood development from the lead teacher. When the school needed a Spanish teacher, Debra stepped in to fill the position. Debra appreciates the cultural diversity at Rutgers Preparatory School and the fact that the school offers Spanish at the elementary level and five different world languages at the secondary level. Rutgers Preparatory School is the oldest independent school in New Jersey—celebrating their 250th anniversary this year! Debra teaches Spanish in grades K thru 5th with a schedule that goes from teaching twice per week for 30 minutes in the early grades to teaching three to five times per week for 45 minutes in the upper grades.

Book  How Sonrisas Spanish is Effective for Debra

Debra appreciates the organization of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. She likes how each lessons spells out which songs to sing, which books to read, and which projects to do. She finds it helpful that the curriculum explains how to teach the different segments of the lessons, such as Circle Time, and she likes how the curriculum connects to methodologies such as teaching to the multiple intelligences. Debra uses Sonrisas Spanish 100% for her early grades and implements different parts of the curriculum for her upper grades. Her favorite part of the curriculum is the music and the books which she uses with all her classes—she enjoys repeating the songs through all the grades and believes that this repetition is helpful for her students. For Debra, the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum has been easy to apply and easy to adapt.

lightbulb4  Teaching Tips from Debra

Debra uses puppets or stuffed animals to engage her students in conversation. For example: she will have her young students greet a puppet and introduce themselves to it using the phrase, “Hola Señor Plátano, me llamo ___.” She repeats this activity for up to six months until her students have mastered this very practical language usage. Debra also uses a mystery box to practice vocabulary with her students. They get to pull an object out of the mystery box, and then they say, “Yo tengo ___.” Debra emphasizes that she tries to keep her classes as fun as possible. She believes that speaking a new language can be intimidating for students, so she tries to make it as enjoyable and comfortable for them as she can.

heart4  What Inspires Debra

Debra is inspired by getting to watch children of all ages learn a new language through play and music. She says, “I get to set the tone for them, for years to come, that learning a new language and culture is fun and exciting, and it opens new doors for them.” Debra truly gets a lot of pleasure out of watching how much children can enjoy learning—and that inspires us.

If you would like to connect with Debra, you can do so by clicking on her social media links or by visiting the Rutgers Preparatory School websitefb  twitter  insta

 

Sonrisas Feature Teacher honors exceptional teachers who are using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum by telling their stories. If you know someone who would be a good candidate for a Sonrisas Feature Teacher, email us at info@sonrisasspanish.com.

 

spanish curriculum for kidsSpanish for preschoolers and elementary school Spanish curricula are becoming more and more popular in the U.S. and for good reason. In today’s day and age, most people realize and accept that learning a foreign language is vastly easier for those that start young as opposed to people who don’t try picking it up until later in life. On top of that, children who speak a second language can typically learn a third language even faster. Starting a Spanish curriculum for kids before the age of 10 is great, but if you can expose them to it even earlier than that — all the better.

According to a new study reported by TheConversation.com, at just 11 months of age babies might not be able to speak or learn words, but they can process and differentiate between different language sounds. The study used a noninvasive technology to study brain activity called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to study brain activity in babies from monolingual and bilingual families/environments. Overall, more than two-thirds of the world’s children are bilingual, but in the U.S., only 17% of the total population speaks a second language in addition to English, according to the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

What they found was that a baby’s brain can become attuned to specific languages before they turn one year old. Babies that were born into bilingual Spanish and English speaking families could process the sounds of both languages equally, proving it wasn’t just coincidental noise that the monolingual babies were responding to.

If you don’t live in an area that offers foreign language for younger children, it might be time to start thinking about a homeschool Spanish curriculum. While it might seem unfeasible for families that are not naturally bilingual to start a baby on a Spanish curriculum for kids, this is just another important study that lends credence to the fact that earlier is better when it comes to learning a foreign language.

The benefits of a Spanish curriculum for kids doesn’t end at learning the actual language itself either.

“Research has found that bilingual adults and children show an improved executive functioning of the brain — that is, they are able to shift attention, switch between tasks and solve problems more easily,” wrote Naja Ferjan Ramirez, the lead research scientist on the study from the University of Washington. “Bilinguals have also been found to have increased metalinguistic skills (the ability to think about language per se, and understand how it works).”

If a smart baby is something you want for your child (and really who doesn’t?), a great way to start is by introducing any other kids you may have to a Spanish curriculum for kids and have them grow up in an environment where they will be exposed to it daily.

One of the things that we talk about a lot here at Sonrisas Spanish is how learning a second language is a long-term endeavor. Many parents and administrators have the expectation of seeing results right away simply by putting their child in a Spanish class or making an elementary Spanish curriculum available. Teachers know the truth—that learning a second language takes time, consistent effort, and lots of repetition. The Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum provides an effective program in which preschool and elementary students acquire Spanish naturally with consistent instruction, age-appropriate activities, and lots of repetition. As you have been teaching this year, you have probably been moving forward through your lesson plans, adding new activities during Circle Time and dropping others that you did closer to the beginning of the school year. April is great time to start reviewing.

Look back on your lessons from earlier in the year to see if there are activities that you can begin to integrate back into Circle Time for review. Your students will welcome these activities as they are familiar, and they offer students the opportunity to use their prior knowledge. Don’t be hesitant to lengthen the duration of Circle Time in order to incorporate this review. A common practice for us in our own classes is to periodically take a day and do only Circle Time for an entire class—an entire class of singing, conversation, games, and activities—all in Spanish. In doing this, we are able to see the results of our long-term effort and realize that our students know a lot of Spanish. This is best practice—it gives you perspective and helps you to remember the big picture. Happy teaching!

spanish curriculumIt’s well-established that starting a child on an elementary or preschool Spanish curriculum can go a long way in their ability to develop the language more effectively later in life. Before the age of 10 — or even at five-years-old — seems to be ideal. Unfortunately, despite this bit of common knowledge, there are some who are actually going the opposite way and advocating eliminating Spanish curriculum’s in favor of more modern classes.

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the idea of replacing foreign languages, like Spanish curriculum for kids, with computer coding classes. This discussion was unquestionably spurred when the Florida Senate decided to pass legislation on Feb. 24 that allows high school students to take computer coding classes in lieu of their foreign language requirements, according to OpposingViews.com.

While learning a valuable skill like computer coding is certainly an admirable and practical route in today’s day and age, it should not be at the expense of foreign languages for public or homeschool Spanish curriculums. That is to say, learning these things should not be thought of as a zero-sum game.

This country is already behind when it comes to being multi-lingual. Over two-thirds of the world’s children are bilingual, but only 17% of the entire U.S. population can speak a second language in addition to English, according to the Summer Institute of Linguistics. This kind of legislation and way of thinking will only widen this gap.

The fact of the matter is that, logically, something needs to be swapped out in order to allow coding to fulfill a graduation requirement. For some reason policy makers have decided that foreign language is the answer when in reality the two disciplines are drastically different.

“Computers and the code that powers them are literal, emotionless, strict, and free of nuance and ambiguity. Human language is anything but,” is how Software engineer Valerie Woolard put it in a recent Vice piece.

One of the interesting solutions brought up for this conundrum is the possibility of instead exchanging math classes, such as Algebra II, that teach children information that’s rarely (if ever) used by the majority of people in the real world.

Learning foreign languages is a crucial part of human development, both intellectually and socially, and should not be so carelessly cast aside. Besides, keep in mind that bilingual employees earn about 20% more than their monolingual counterparts, on average.