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Spanish Curriculum Choices

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Curriculum Choices

For Younger Students For Older Students

I, Paula, am unfamiliar with most of these Spanish programs. This page collects the comments from users on a board I frequent.

If you want to maintain a bilingual household, I found a thread with lots of good ideas on the subject.

Speedy Spanish
Description: Self-teaching, self-correcting. Focuses on vocabulary, practical conversation, Bible memory and songs. Essentials: workbook with vocab cards and CDs or tapes. Extras: TM with detailed lesson plans, and extra practice sheets and tests for older students.
Target age: Primer: preK-2nd grade. Levels 1, 2: 3rd - 12th grade. TM has many tips to modify level.
Price: $70 for Levels 1 & 2, plus $9 for optional TM
Greatest strength: It works! Emphasis on spoken Spanish and regular practice makes it stick. Goal is to speak Spanish, not learn grammar.
Greatest weakness:May overwhelm elementary students if you don't modify the pace.
Reviews: Cathy Duffy Review
Other Comments: Christian curriculum.

Rosetta Stone
Description: Computer based plus workbook and tests. Student works independently. Student listens to a phrase and selects the appropriate picture. Includes listening, speaking, and writing.
Target age: Views differ. Some say that the complex sentences farther along in the program are too complicated for young children. But Laurie4b states that an immersion program is best suited to elementary age children because they still have the innate ability to absorb another language naturally. Rosetta Stone (RS) , which is thoroughly immersion based, is ideal for this age. Laurie continues that students in middle school and above are too old to naturally absorb a language, but they have the logic skills to learn a language systematically by conjugating verbs, etc. At that older stage, RS is a useful supplement, but a systematic program with more grammar is best for the main curriculum.
Price: About $200.00. Some libraries offer free online access
Greatest strength: Great at building vocabulary. Self-paced, very visual, easy to use independently, fun to use.
Greatest weakness:No conversational practice, and only very limited grammar instruction.
 The Old Schoolhouse
 Cathy Duffy's Review, see her 100 Top Picks

The Learnables
Description: Audio-based program with accompanying books. The audio teaches the words for the associated pictures. Next you see pictures and words with the audio, and finally see and hear the sentence, then find the corresponding picture.
Target age: 2nd grade and up.
Price: About $100 per level (year).
Greatest strength: Very gradual. They try to teach verb conjugations without confusion.
Greatest weakness: Boring as written. By omitting or modifying some of the steps, you can make it less boring. e.g. you could listen to each lesson only once, and keep a notebook to review vocabulary.
 The Old Schoolhouse
 Cathy Duffy's Review, see her 100 Top Picks

Power-Glide for Children
Description: Student listens to a story on CD while reading the same text. In some exercises the student chooses the right picture from multiple pictures. The student is expected to retell the story from picture clues.
Target age: Pre-K to 3rd grade. Three levels are included.
Price: $130.
Greatest strength: Really cute at first glance. Nice packaging. You get a lot of books and CDs. The story format is appealing.
Greatest weakness: Too slow. No actual teaching. The speaker simply alternates between English and Spanish. There is no context to understand the Spanish words--no illustrations, introduction, review, or explanation.
Other Comments: I finished the entire program. I was very dissatisfied with it. I would not recommend it.
Also available: Power-Glide Junior - 4th - 6th grade
 Power-Glide Ultimate - 7th grade & up. No grammar is taught. Students are supposed to intuitively figure it out.
 The Old Schoolhouse

Switched on Schoolhouse Spanish I and II
Description: Computer based program. Student reads grammar explanations and stories, listens to different speakers, practices pronunciation with a microphone, and writes answers in the exercises and tests. Students work independently; some teacher interaction is helpful.
Target age: Grades 7-12
Price: About $70 per level (year)
Greatest strength: Complete, intensive program with a strong grammar component.
Greatest weakness:Narrow range of correct answers; the computer often rejects acceptable responses. Copious vocabulary.
Other comments:Jean in WI says, "I majored in Spanish decades ago. This is the most comprehensive program I've found."
Reviews: The Old Schoolhouse

Description: 52 half-hour episodes, PBS drama series. Follow Raquel as she tracks down a long-lost relative. The shows progress from extremely simple Spanish to more complex language. Immersion approach.
Target age: Middle school and above.
Price: Free on educational TV or Annenburg's web site. Textbook also available.
Greatest strength: All native speakers from many different countries. The storyline is entertaining to many (though annoying to some).
Greatest weakness: Very conversation-oriented. Student only listens; never practices speaking.
Reviews: Language Learning Advisor

Puertas Abiertas
Description: Immersion type video program, workbook and audio tape included. Videos are all in Spanish.
Target age: All ages
Price: $135 for Level 1
Greatest strength: Incremental learning that builds while being fun and entertaining.
Greatest weakness: Level 2 is not available now. Should be available by Fall 2007.
Other: My kids have been able to learn a lot of Spanish, in context, at a very young age with this program.

La Clase Divertida
Description: DVD-based program, requires parent involvement. Includes workbook, craft kit, and audio CD. Vocabulary is taught through songs and repetition.
Target age: K-6
Price: $110. Workbooks & craft materials for two students. Additional student kits are available.
Greatest strength: It's fun! And it gets kids speaking Spanish right away. They can communicate with Spanish-speaking children to some extent very early in the program.
Greatest weakness:   No formal grammar is taught. In Levels 2 & 3, students become familiar with nouns, verbs & prepositions, but not the labels.
 The Old Schoolhouse
 Cathy Duffy

Elementary Spanish
Description: Instructor-led program available on Dish Network (University House channel) or United Streaming (video on demand).
Target age: Grades 1-8.
Price: Free with Dish Network or United Streaming.
Greatest strength: "Live," excellent Spanish-speaking teacher.
Greatest weakness: I don't think I have any complaints about it.

Spanish for Children
Description: Workbook and CD. The workbook features a cartoon story about "SuperCat."
Target age: Age 3-9
Price: $20
Greatest strength: Simple and inexpensive.
Greatest weakness: This is just a starting point. You'll need to continue with something else.
Other comments: One of the stories features a witch.

Breaking the Spanish Barrier
Description: Student Book, Answer Key Booklet, and CD Set. From their site: "We think a grounding in grammar provides the fastest path to true fluency."
Target age: Older kids
Price: $50 for one year. Three years available.
Greatest strength: Plenty of exercises. Plenty of grammar instruction, which is something many programs lack.
Greatest weakness: It seems to move pretty fast.
Other comments: I have not used this, but the samples look very good. It might also work well in tandem with an immersion-oriented program.

So you Really Want to Learn Spanish
Description: Textbooks & CD’s. European, not Latin American Spanish. Colorful texts. Within each chapter, there are many exercises that have your child writing, reading, listening, and answering in Spanish.
Target age: 4th grade and up.
Price: Covers three years. From the UK so price varies with the exchange rate.
Greatest strength: Has the child writing, reading, listening, and speaking in Spanish and takes it step by step.
Greatest weakness: The CD's are expensive and are in Castilian Spanish. Not for beginners; you need some understanding of Spanish. But this is the most complete a program I have found.

Español Para Chicos y Grandes Level 1
Description: Adults and children can learn together. Consists of the student book, workbook, and CD with pronunciation exercises, dialogues, songs and listening exercises. All three are absolutely necessary, IMHO.
Target age: Grades 3-7 and adult. Español para Chiquitos is available for younger children.
Price: Less than $40 for 24 weeks.
Greatest strength: Accurate. Not cutesy or babyish.
Greatest weakness: No real-world conversation practice.

Platiquemos Let's Talk! Spanish
Description: Conversation-driven course using Foreign Service Institute scripts and methods. 50 hours of CD combined with a 1500-page text with a fair amount of reading. Latin American Spanish with a good male/female balance.
Target age: High school to adult.
Price: $200-600 (depending on format) for 3-4 years of language instruction.
Greatest strength: Excellence in teaching people to speak.
Greatest weakness:A lack of literature.
Review: Review on

Learning Spanish Like Crazy
Description: More of a casual-conversational course and can be taken in conjunction with another program.
Target age: Middle school and above.
Price: $97-347, depending on format and options.
Greatest strength: Slang and casual usage.
Greatest weakness:Casual usage is the sole focus of the program.

Description: Immersion television program using puppets, animation and real children, Sesame Street-style. High frequency words in context and some cultural information.
Target age: Pre-K through 3rd
Price: Free on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Also available on DVD for about $1,200 for 2 years’ worth.
Greatest strength: Entertaining and engaging – kids *want* to learn Spanish. Kids use words in context right away.
Greatest weakness: Unavailable (except at great expense) outside of Georgia. No explanations.
Other comments: Works particularly well in combination with a program with more explanation. Free lesson plans available.

Visual Link Spanish
Description: 200 lessons on CD's. Uses word bank and model sentences so students can quickly speak proper sentences.
Target age: Middle and high school.
Price: $134.95. Eight free sample lessons available.
Greatest strength: Allows student to start speaking in sentences quickly.
Greatest weakness: ???

The Fun Spanish
Description: A workbook supplement to any Spanish program. Children memorize verb conjugation, translate silly sentences, and illustrate the sentences. Based on the Charlote Mason philosophy of memorizing 4-5 new words per day.
Target age: Students who can read and write comfortably in English.
Price: $19.95 for 17 weeks which can easily be stretched to 35 weeks.
Greatest strength: It is truly a fun workbook with Spanish sentences such as "We are fish. We live in a tree."
Greatest weakness:   No audio as of yet. Level 2 is still being developed.

Other Programs

I have not received descriptions of the following products. I welcome descriptions for these if you have used any of them. Please follow the same format as the other listings. Thank you.

BJUP's new Elementary Spanish

Calvert Spanish Grades 3+

The Easy Spanish - see Review

Symtalk - Looks fabulous if you have a Spanish-speaking instructor.

SOS's elementary Spanish appears to be PowerGlide in a computer format.

Don't forget to check your library. You can probably get Bilingual Baby, Muzzy, Teach Me Spanish, and JumpStart Spanish (and maybe others) for free there. Also, I saw several interesting programs in both the Timberdoodle and the CBD catalogs.

Favorite Supplements

For Spanish songs that stick in your head: Sarah Jordan and Songs That Teach.

Practice Makes Perfect series: Excellent, traditional, strong grammar instruction with plenty of practice exercises. Spanish Verb Tenses and Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions. They explain many of the finer points of grammar. For middle school and above.

Dover Pub. offers 1001 Most Useful Spanish Words by Resnick. It gives each word in a sentence, in Spanish and English. Everyday sentences, not just tourist vocabulary. Using this low-priced gem ($2) for memorization work, I learn not only vocabulary but also grammar and syntax. My favorite! -Paula

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