Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spanish for You! Curriculum Review

As a homeschooling parent, teaching my children a foreign language is always a priority but often gets pushed to the back burner when those road bumps in life come along.  During those times, it's common to push aside the "extras" and focus on the core educational components, like reading/phonics, and math.  Then, at least in my house, it's hard to get back on track with the extras once we've made it past those road bumps.  So foreign language just never seems to get done around here.

PictureI was excited to be chosen to be selected to use and review the Spanish for You!  curriculum as a member of the Mosaics Review team.

I received a workbook, meant for the student, as well as several files to download.  Those files included: 
  • Audio download (MP3) of the entire book. You use these as the lesson guide instructs.
  • A free bonus audio of the entire book recorded by a native speaker from Mexico. (MP3)
  • 24-30 Week Lesson Guide (PDF) - The student (and parent if needed) follows this guide step-by-step to know what to do, at whatever pace works for you.
  • Self-checking worksheets (PDF) - You just print these as you need them. The lesson guide will tell you what you need to print and when.
  • Free set of pictures for making flashcards and other activity materials. (PDF)

  • The Spanish for You! curriculum currently has two "themes" to choose from, with a third in the works.  The themed books are meant to be done in any order, and each theme is meant to be a full year worth of curriculum.  The two themes available are Fiestas (Celebrations) and Estaciones (Seasons).   I received the Estaciones package. 

    The website Spanish for You! offers alot of instructions, and information on the "Why" behind the program, and how to get started.   I read that information, as well as read the Lesson Guide before getting started.   When I opened the workbook, I will be honest here, I was immediately put off.  Each page is jam-packed.  I am not sure if it is the amount of information on each page, or the font used (it's a cartoonish font, IMHO), or a combination of both, but the pages instantly struck me as chaotic.   I closed the workbook, waited a few days, and then tried again,  hoping to get started with my boys.  Again, I was immediately overwhelmed by the pages.  Maybe it's just me.  I like neat, organized, and concise things in life.  I almost always choose curriculum that is just that, organized and concise.  Open and go.  Planned out for me (although I also tweak when needed).   With this Spanish for You! workbook, I had to stop my brain from spazzing out, and truly focus to get into the meat.  I had to read each page slowly and sometimes re-read it (I don't have any learning disabilities, despite what I have just described here....I just don't function well with "chaos").  The workbook doesn't really tell you where to start and stop each day.  You kind of need to choose your own start and stop point for each day's lessons.   I forged ahead.  I downloaded the worksheets, downloaded the flashcards, downloaded the audio files.  

    I sat with my boys each day as we worked through the program.   My 1st grader is a bit below the intended grade level, as it's recommend for grade 3 and up, but I figured he'd get something from participating.  My 4th grader, while the perfect intended target audience, hated the workbook, as I thought he would (and I promise, I did not tell him about my reaction first!).  He complained that it was "too much"....too much reading, too much to do.  Information overload!!  I explained that we weren't doing everything on the page today, but we'd break it into parts.   That calmed him down a bit.  But still, with the pages being as frenzied as they are, I tended to read the info to my boys.   The flashcards are intended to be made by the students, as the flashcard files are just the pictures to go along with the words.   The pictures are hand-drawn by the author's daughter, so they appear to be just that...a young child's art work.  The author stated this was a way of keeping costs down.  I understand that effort, yet if it was about cost, I could have always had my own children draw corresponding art work.  I was not a fan of the flashcards.  I guess I prefer a more professional look. We worked with this curriculum for several weeks.  

    Overall, I can't say that my family enjoyed Spanish for You!  Perhaps it was just our issues, but it felt like there were more hurdles to overcome than it was worth. Not big hurdles, mind you, but when I added up the pre-work for me (and frankly, even the website seems frenzied to many font colors and sizes on each page!) of reading all the info, and downloading, the effort of having to "translate" the workbook to my children because of the frenzied pages,  and the flashcard work (you assemble the flashcards yourself, well,the children do, as you move along the lessons....this was busy work in my house...not useful to the learning process although I know the author states this was done for a purpose as she does feel creating flashcards is useful to learning) the end, there was just too much "frenzy" to make it worth our while.   The curriculum is offered at a great price, and that was one of the intentions of the author, to keep it affordable so perhaps the price would be worth it for some to overcome these hurdles.  I do know that the author is very responsive to customer inquiries and concerns.

    I would recommend that you take a look at the curriculum as there are sample pages at the website, and more info explaining the goals and techniques of the curriculum.  Head on over to to check it out.

    No comments: