Unless you’re homeschooling your child, you don’t have much say in what curricula teachers use in your kid’s classes. Are the curricula designed to help your student succeed? Are they teaching what your student actually needs to learn? Now, if you homeschool, you do get to choose what program and books you use to instruct your child. However, how do you know which curriculum is the best?
There are so many questions that come up about curricula, especially when you are looking to have your child learn a foreign language. Most parents don’t speak the language their child wants to learn, and even if they do, they might not know how to best teach it. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the curricula options, we are here to help take one subject off your plate – Spanish.
If you’re still on the fence about what language to teach your child, check out our blog that explores why Spanish is the best foreign language to learn in our increasingly connected world.
How is our Spanish Curriculum different?
You want the best for your child. However, what makes a Spanish curriculum the best course for your child?
First, we need to talk about how you learn a language. It is not just memorizing words and phrases; learning a language is learning a new way to think, express yourself, and look at the world. To gain that knowledge, you need exposure and repetition. If you have kids, think about how they learned to talk – did you teach them a list of words and have them memorize it? Did you expect them to be fluent in a year? Were they able to speak immediately?
The best way to learn a language is as close as possible to the way we naturally learned our native tongue. This means lots of exposure and relating vocabulary to images or objects – NOT relating them to the English words.
Think of it this way – if you always relate a new Spanish word to its English equivalent, when you go to have a conversation, you will constantly be thinking of your answer in English, then taking time to translate it to Spanish. It’s hard and time-consuming! You would be better off creating new relationships between the Spanish words and the objects or ideas. One easy way to do this is by labeling things in your house with the Spanish word (check out more ideas here).
So, that’s great in theory, but how can it be applied to Spanish classes? Well, here at the Spanish Academy, we have developed our own curricula that our native-speaking teachers use in each class. The curriculum utilizes images to relate each new vocabulary word and phrase to a real-life situation. Many of our teachers also use physical objects in class and encourage their students to as well. This combination of images in the curriculum and physical objects in the virtual classroom help the students avoid translation and directly create relationships between the Spanish word and the object.
Levels of Fluency
When your child first started learning their native tongue, did they immediately start talking? No, of course not! There are multiple areas of language learning and fluency. A child first learns to understand a language before learning to respond. As we said before, we want to teach Spanish in a similar way to how we naturally learn a language. Therefore, the first step towards fluency is exposure and auditory comprehension.
All our teachers are native Spanish speakers, and they make conversation a priority in each class. While your student may not be able to reproduce the teacher’s questions and comments or respond to them right away, they are developing auditory comprehension, just as they did as a baby learning their first language. If your student is able to read and write, our curricula also combine this auditory comprehension with written practice, so your student grows in all areas of language learning – reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
How many times did you have to teach your child the colors before they could remember them all? Did they remember everything the first time? Of course not! When learning a new language, we are actually building new pathways in our brain, which takes time and dedication – or repetition. A lot of other curricula, especially the ones used in school settings, move too fast and don’t take the time to reinforce learn vocabulary.
The Spanish Academy curricula apply learned vocabulary in the following classes to make sure your student remembers what they learned and can actually use it. Furthermore, the teacher always starts the class with some quick conversation and pointed questions to review and reinforce previous lessons. Instead of learning one topic and moving on, our curricula builds upon itself, deepening those pathways in your brain until speaking Spanish becomes second nature.
One size does NOT fit all
While finding pieces of clothing that are ‘one size fits all’ is great because there’s no hassle of finding the perfect size for you, that thought process cannot be used when learning a language. As a child grows up, they learn differently, and their Spanish curriculum must reflect that. That is why we have all the following programs:
- Preschool Curriculum
- Elementary Curriculum
- Middle School Curriculum
- High School Curriculum
- Adult Curriculum
Each program is specifically designed with the student’s age in mind. For example, the middle school years are a time of preparation and transition, and our curriculum takes that into mind – while addressing Spanish grammar topics head-on like the high school curriculum, it still goes at a slower pace to make sure they are truly learning. It’s like an introduction to a high school level course, which is what those middle school years are all about.
Creating the Perfect Curriculum for Your Child
While we offer different courses for each age level, every child is unique and may need something tailored specifically to their learning needs. You don’t usually get the opportunity to adjust courses in many classroom settings, but our curriculum can be altered as needed. If your student needs to just review certain parts of a curriculum because they have already mastered some topics, our teachers can start them right at the appropriate lesson, so they aren’t bored with the classes. On the other hand, if your student needs more time to review a tricky topic, our teachers take the time to get extra review materials and make sure they master each lesson.
All of our Spanish curricula have homework, quizzes, and tests built into the programs, but you can opt out of those and do a freestyle course of study. Keep in mind that if you are looking for high school credit, your student will need to comply with all parts of the curriculum. For any other course, however, the assessments can be optional.
Some students would like to focus more on conversational Spanish, while others already speak fluently but need help with their written Spanish. Either way, our teachers can accommodate and adjust the curriculum for your student’s needs.
Additionally, we have worked with numerous students that have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Just let your teacher know and they will accommodate accordingly. We are here to make learning Spanish easy for your child!
High School Courses
So many world language courses don’t offer options for high schoolers – they focus more on younger kids and avoid high school classes because of the strict standards required for high school Spanish. However, the Spanish Academy offers Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV for the high schoolers. The classes include graded homework (10%), quizzes (40%), and tests (50%), and we can provide a transcript for each completed semester.
These classes are perfect for if your student needs high school credit for Spanish, if they struggled in school and need reinforcement, or if they are looking to get a head start on their high school credits. We have received numerous testimonials about how our unique high school curriculum has helped students succeed in high school and be well-prepared for college classes. Download a sample here!
Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”– Kim Collins
Here at the Spanish Academy, we want to be constantly improving our classes. For that reason, we are making some exciting changes to our curriculum. The flexibility and teaching methods will be the same, but we will be bringing you a lot more content, with some extra special products for all you parents!
One important change will be our alignment with the ACTFL standards and level system. You will be able to see what fluency level your student is at and what they need to work on at each level. This will give you a better idea of how soon they will reach their Spanish fluency goal and how you can help get them there.
Stay tuned for the coming changes and sign up for a FREE class in the meantime!Read More
When learning a language, there are so many different curriculums to choose from. Even with the Spanish Academy, there are five different more programs (with more on the way)! Deciding which program to start with can be a bit confusing if you aren’t familiar with the specifics of each curriculum. Some of the most common questions we get are “What is the difference between the middle school and high school curriculum? Which one should my child study?” Well, hopefully with this blog, we can help you make an educated decision on which curriculum is best for your child!
Who Is the High School Curriculum for?
While the name of the curriculum may make it seem like this program is only for students in grades 9-12, that is not actually the case. Even though the majority of our students in the high school course are within that age range, we do have children as young as 8 or 9 studying at the high school level.
Some kids start studying Spanish in preschool or take courses in an immersion school, which helps them reach a high level of fluency at a young age. The elementary and middle school curriculums, therefore, may not provide the vocabulary and grammar they need to continue improving their Spanish skills. Because of that, our high school curriculum is open to any student who needs to appropriately challenge themselves in the Spanish language.
High School Credit
Just like some colleges offer students the opportunity to earn credit while still in high school, the Spanish Academy gives students the chance to get ahead in their studies. Younger students who would like to get their language credits out of the way are more than welcome to study at the high school level to make sure they get credit for their studies. In the United States, nearly all high schools require one or two language credits to graduate. With the Spanish Academy, students can earn those credits while still in middle (or even elementary) school and open up their future schedule for other classes they may want to take.
Middle School Versus High School
Speaking of credit, can the completion of any other Spanish Academy course transfer to high school credit? The answer is yes. A student who starts at the middle school level can earn up to one full credit for their studies. Let’s delve into the differences between the two programs so you can choose the best option for your Spanish student.
Choosing the Middle School Curriculum
All of the Spanish Academy levels start with the basics – Hola, ¿cómo estás? Mi nombre es… The middle school program is no different. However, it does move at a different pace than the others. While the elementary program has fun exercises designed for those little learners, the middle school program takes a slightly more mature approach to language learning. However, it is not as intense as the high school program; it teaches some grammar but does not move as quickly through the material.
If you want your child to master the fundamentals of Spanish learning before jumping into grammar and advanced conversations, the middle school program would be the best option for you. The lessons move at about half the speed of the high school lessons, giving the student time to truly dominate the learned topics before moving on. The middle school course would give your child a strong foundation moving forward into high school. Additionally, your student will build their speaking confidence as they take their time learning correct pronunciation and phrasing with the teacher.
Choosing the High School Curriculum
Now, if your child is a fast learner or already has the Spanish basics down, you can opt for them to start with the high school program. Just like the middle school one, it starts with beginning topics but moves much quicker through grammar and vocabulary.
This program is designed for teenagers, but as previously stated, can be taken by any student needing a challenge or high school credit. If you are trying to decide between the middle and high school curriculum for your teen or pre-teen, it ultimately comes down to two factors: their previous Spanish experience (do they already have the basics?) and their learning style (would they do better in a fast-paced environment?).
Moving from the Middle School to High School Curriculum
Of course, if you start your student off with the middle school curriculum, it only lasts for a couple of years. Eventually, your student will need to move on to the high school curriculum. Before making the switch, there are a few things to consider.
Are credits important?
When moving from middle school to high school Spanish classes, credits need to be taken into consideration. Only the first two semesters of the middle school curriculum can be transferred to high school credit. In other words, middle school 1A and 1B are equal to high school 1A. After middle school 1B, the classes no longer transfer to high school credit because they do not follow the same path as the high school classes.
So, if you want your student to earn high school credit but start at the middle school level, the best plan of action would be to take only one year of middle school before transferring to high school. They would get the basics, master some fundamental skills, and then move forward with high school 1B at a quicker pace.
If earning credits is not as important, your student can complete all levels of the middle school curriculum and then test into the appropriate high school level. Keep in mind, though, that only one semester of high school credit (0.5 credits) will be given for the middle school level, no matter how many semesters they have completed.
Is your student ready?
Since a student can start the high school classes at any point, it is imperative that you consider your child’s learning method. Most students take 25-minute classes all the way through middle school, so the transition into 50-minute high school classes can be a big change (they can take 25-minute classes, but it would take longer to complete the program, and each lesson is designed for 50-minute segments). Additionally, the high school curriculum covers a lot of grammar – it has about double the content per lesson as the middle school program. Make sure your student is ready to advance and can handle the extra workload.
What is your language learning goal?
This goes hand-in-hand with the question about credits. What do you want your child to achieve through their Spanish classes? Is fluency your goal, or do you want them to earn 4 high school credits? Do they need Spanish to talk with their family members or to go on their college application? Whatever your goal is, we can work with you to help you meet it. However, it is something you should consider when choosing the best curriculum for your child.
If you are only interested in fluency, then there is no need to jump right into the high school curriculum (unless they are at an advanced level). If you want them to have several language credits for their college application, then it would be best to move into the high school program sooner rather than later.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a Spanish program for your learner, but nothing can beat actually experiencing a class. Try a FREE class today, and you can even explore your curriculum options further with a live teacher! Also, download a sample lesson from each curriculum to see what your child would actually be learning at each level. Get them speaking Spanish today!Read More