Recently I was able to review Spanish for You! Fiestas by Debbie Annett, MSEd. Ms. Annett has experience teaching Spanish to children of all ages. She developed Spanish for You! in response to needs she saw while teaching Spanish to children. A more extensive bio of the author can be found here.
Spanish for You! is a unique approach to teaching Spanish to children. Rather than going through a list of present tense verbs, nouns, and adjectives and teaching each new grammar point out of context, Spanish For You! is a collection of several theme-based units which can be completed in any order. Throughout the theme various grammar points are introduced with relation to the theme. For example, commands were presented in the first lesson. These commands were ones associated with a birthday party like open, eat, and sing. In the same chapter we covered some verb conjugations, also associated with a birthday party, and vocabulary. Currently available are Fiestas and Estaciones (Seasons). This summer Viajes (Trips) will be available as well. Here is a sample of Fiestas.
Included in each themed package are the following:
- Spanish for you! soft cover book or E-book
- Audio download of each lesson
- Audio download of each lesson by a native speaker from Mexico
- 24-30 Week PDF Lesson Guides for all grades purchased (3-4, 5-6, and/or 7-8)
- PDF Worksheets with answer key
- PDF set of pictures for making flashcards and other activity materials.
With the audio downloads, worksheets with answer keys, and text, Spanish for You! is an entry level Spanish curriculum designed to be used by the parent even if the parent doesn’t speak Spanish. Fiestas only contained 5 chapters, and at first glance I thought it appeared to be very minimal. I was pleasantly surprised how much is covered in the short text. Each chapter is covered over several weeks so the vocabulary and grammar is learned really well by the students. Each theme book is tested for a year with students by the author before being published for sale. Lessons emphasize reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Spanish through various activities and games. The curriculum is also intended to be used over all ages. The book contains a very clear explanation to parents on how to use the curriculum and what steps need to be taken. There are also several pages of games and activities to do with the vocabulary words and flashcards. This is an open and go curriculum for the most part.
In our home we received the full package with all grades included. I used the 3-4 grade worksheets for Butterfly and Pumpkin Pie when she wanted to do a worksheet. I started with the 5-6 grade worksheets for Tiger but he decided he would prefer the 7-8 grade ones as they required a little more effort from him. Each day I would look at all three lesson plans. The author says to just do each lesson plan with each grade but I found that trying to combine several grades with different lesson plans at the same time was a little frustrating because they didn’t always overlap. In the end I found myself selecting one lesson plan and then using the various level worksheets for each level. Other times I would select one level and then add a component from another level. My children enjoyed playing the suggested games and making their flashcards to use in various games. Within a couple of lessons I began to hear my children saying things in Spanish and trying to put together phrases. Spanish for You! got them excited about learning Spanish.
One thing I really like about Spanish for You! is the fact that it is theme-based and commands and present tense conjugations are taught at the same time. I have taken Spanish 1-4 twice and still I am most comfortable with present tense only. Beyond that I struggle with proper conjugations of verbs. By teaching the commands and present tense together I think that will help and prevent some of the isolated learning that takes place in traditional texts. I also really like that there is an audio of a native speaker. It would be nice if there were native speakers from several different countries, not just Mexico to listen to. I also really like the author’s blog. Ms. Annett offers helpful information, inspiration, and new ideas of how to get your students using Spanish and practicing in an inviting way.
The only thing I found frustrating with this program was the way the worksheets and audios were organized. Shortly after I received my curriculum package I was notified by the author that she had reorganized the folders and files and hoped they would be more user-friendly. The way she described the reorganization sounded much better than the way they downloaded for me, so I am hopeful for new purchasers the organization will be more helpful.
Spanish for You! Fiestas is available for $64.95 for grades 3-8 or $39.95 for 1 level (grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8). Each theme based Spanish unit can be purchased here.