Parents and guardians - This page is for you! You and I are a team in your child's success so I feel it is imperative that we have strong communication. Please feel free to email or call me at any time. As I have met with parents and guardians over the years, there are a few questions that are commonly asked. These are:
1. I took Spanish a long time ago and I don't remember anything. How can I help my child study?
2. I know nothing about languages and don't know where to start to help my child study.
3. What are your recommendations to help my child have success with Spanish?
There are several things that you can do to help ensure your child is on the right track to excel to their potential in Spanish. Spanish is unlike other classes because it builds on top of previous information. For example: imagine you are building a house and your contractor was not on top of his game the day the foundation was poured. Now the rest of the house is built on top of this concrete foundation. There are cracks in the foundation which makes the rest of the house unstable. To help avoid these cracks, I recommend the following:
1. Effort or accuracy? For a student to be successful in this class, they must put forth effort even if they are wrong. Learning a language involves a lot of processing (you can’t speak it if you don’t speak it!) and processing creates errors. These are expected. I ask my students to put forth effort, especially when it is difficult.
How can you help? Praise your child for the effort in trying to speak/write Spanish. This will go a long way!
2. Homework – I will occasionally give homework, but most of the time I will give recommended practice/extension activities. The first thing I will ask a parent or student who says that they don’t get it is if they have done the recommended activities. t only if the student actually does the work prior to coming to class.
How can you help? Ask our student to give you an example of what they learned in class today, in Spanish (it’s okay if you don’t know it!). Have them speak it. If they struggle, recommend that they do the recommended activity.
3. Practice – Students generally think that one day they will wake up and be fluent. Unfortunately, this is not true. In order to speak the language, they must practice every day knowing that they will make mistakes. I cannot stress this enough.
How can you help? Ask them how to say things in Spanish. Tell them to speak to you only in Spanish for a few minutes. Pick up a Spanish language newspaper for free outside of most grocery stores and ask your child to tell you what the “gist” of the article is.
4. Cell phones. This is the number 1 reason for kids to fall behind quickly. Waiting on that text or Snap Chat to come in requires that at least part of the brain is dedicated to that. Learning a language is challenging. All brain cells need to be focused on the task at hand. Therefore cell phones are not allowed to be seen or used in class. First violation: $25 of classroom money. Second violation: Cell phone jail (my desk). Third violation: Cell phone taken to the office. All of these are cumulative.
5. Speaking – Urge your child to speak in Spanish at home, even if they say they don’t know how to say what it is they want to say. Remember, two year olds can still get their point across by mumbling a few broken words or even sentences. As your child does this, their fear of speaking will begin to diminish and their ease with thinking in Spanish will increase. This is where real progress is made.
6. Learning vocabulary – Each theme or chapter introduces an average of 80 new vocabulary words. That’s almost 600 new words this year! What are some ways to learn efficiently? I like the use of flashcards. I suggest that they print out the vocabulary sheets from the Canvas website and paste the picture on one side and write the Spanish word on the other. I discourage the use of English vs Spanish when it can be avoided.
- Say the word out loud – It is NOT good enough to just “think” the word or read it silently. Our student should be physically using the word audibly. This helps to process the word in their brain and to practice pronunciation at the same time.
- Use the word in a sentence – the true test of understanding.
7. Websites and apps.
Verbling.com offers one on one classes that cover conversation, reading, grammar, pronunciation. You can choose the country the teacher is from!
Duolingo (app) – is an app that leads you through levels of Spanish vocabulary and grammar. It also sends you reminders.
Quizlet.com is a website that allows students to create their own flashcards. With these they can play games to help improve their acquisition of Spanish.
Conjuguemos.com is a great website that works with verb conjugations in all tenses.
All grammar topics practice at http://personal.colby.edu/~bknelson/SLC/
A final note……..