My Stepson’s Experience Learning Spanish with HSA
Recently my stepson was given the opportunity to participate in 1:1 Spanish lessons with Homeschool Spanish Academy. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and a former teacher, It intrigued me to see the methods and approaches used in teaching a “somewhat” foreign language to a student via online classes.
I say “somewhat” because Thomas was born in a Cuban family and primarily raised speaking Spanish. However, once he started school and was exposed to English, he began speaking more English and subsequently less Spanish.
We are fortunate that his school offers a daily Spanish class, but we weren’t noticing any improvements in his skills. When I was approached by Homeschool Spanish Academy, I was excited about the potential, but nervous how it would go.
Homeschool Spanish Academy Exceeds My Expectations
I had hoped Thomas would build a great relationship with his teacher, and that his sessions would be engaging and individualized to his level.
It’s important to note that Homeschool Spanish Academy provides flexible scheduling which does allow you to pick and choose the times and teachers you work with. You can choose to work with one teacher or work with a variety.
While I chose Thomas’s teacher for his first class at random based on what worked for our schedule, she was so warm and friendly that I made it a point to schedule all our classes with the same teacher for all his sessions.
Thomas’s Online Spanish Class Experience
Full of Praise and Positivity
Thomas’s first class started with an assessment to determine what level he would be placed at for his future sessions. Immediately, I noticed that his teacher used lots of verbal praise, like “great job Thomas!” and “great try!”
This is so helpful at encouraging behaviors we want to see more of.
Over the course of the following few months, his teacher always encouraged and praised his efforts. Even if he was making mistakes, she praised him by saying “that was good trying” before she provided the correction.
Strong Focus on Building a Relationship Between Student and Teacher
Another important element of Thomas’s sessions is that his teacher valued the importance of developing a rapport with him. This is also why it was important to me that Thomas continue with the same teacher for all his sessions. By building that relationship, Thomas felt comfortable in his learning environment which made it easier for him to acquire and maintain new language skills.
Engaging Review and Reinforcement of Skill Sets
Each session Thomas’s teacher came prepared with a review of skills and new skills. What I loved is that these skills were presented in a variety of ways. This was helpful to the learning process and to all learning processes because it fosters an environment of engagement in which the learner is less likely to become disinterested in the topic. As I mentioned, his sessions always began with a review of skills. This is so critical to mastery and fluency of new skills to make sure the learned as acquired these skills.
Detailed Assessments That Track Progress
By the end of our sessions Thomas was given a final assessment to be able to see how he had progressed throughout the time he was enrolled with Homeschool Spanish Academy. Thomas had made significant progress which I had not only seen in his final assessment, but also in our own home and in communicating with Spanish-speaking family members!
How HSA Helps Students Acquire Spanish Fluency
As a BCBA, I was so happy to see some of the same methods I use daily with clients being used in Thomas’ sessions which I know is why he was able to successfully acquire new skills!
The methods I see them using include:
- Pairing – pairing refers to the relationship you build with another. This is critical to any learning scenario. Building a trusting relationship with established boundaries for learning is your foundation for success!
- Behavior Specific Verbal Praise – Depending that verbal praise is appropriate for the learner, identifying the specific behaviors we desire to see from the learner not only recognizes their efforts, but also clearly defines what you want to see more of. For example, “I love how you used your words in Spanish to request going to the bathroom.” This is praising the learners efforts as well as the desired behavior we want to see more of!
- Modalities of learning – using our senses to teach and reach learners is so important as we learn through our senses. Some learners learn via touch, others via visuals. Presenting your information in a variety of ways ensures you are reaching a variety of modalities.
- Repetition – While you may feel like a broken record, repetition is key not only for learning new skills, but maintaining that skill! Have fun with it and repeat the new skills in a variety of ways.
Sign Your Child Up For a Free Spanish Class
Kids learn a language by listening and speaking. Children with a strong Spanish foundation are even able to develop an accent or learn other languages as they grow up. It also gives them a wider understanding of cultural diversity in their neighborhood and community.
As a homeschool parent or Spanish educator, you’re on the right path to improve your child’s language skills. Give them a chance to engage in conversation with a native speaker and sign up your child to a free class with our teachers from Guatemala.
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