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Spanish For You! Conversaciones Home Use Package for Grades 3-8 Review by Tracey Masters

Debbie Annett
Spanish for You!
P.O. Box 1444
Batavia, IL, 60510
http://www.spanish-for-you.net

I am adamant about teaching my daughter a second language in hopes that she’ll become bilingual. This invaluable skill will help her in the future when she’s deciding on a career. Since we live in a predominantly Spanish speaking community, I also feel that she should learn Spanish for communication purposes. Giving her a broad, well-rounded education where she respects and appreciates other cultures is high on my list of educational goals.

Spanish For You! is a complete annual Spanish curriculum written by Debbie Annett, which is intended for students in 3rd-8th grade. Her daughter, Amanda Annett, drew the illustrations for the curriculum. The author follows the same format for each themed book. You can complete the themed textbooks in any order at your child’s individualized pace. The lessons are based on themes instead of utilizing a traditional textbook approach. This particular textbook is based on the “Conversation” theme. Both receptive and expressive skills such as listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills are addressed.  

The comprehensive Conversaciones package contains five main topics: En el parque (at the park), en el supermercado (at the grocery store), en el centro commercial (at the mall/shopping center), en el cine (at the theater), and en el restaurante (at the restaurant). These are great topics for practicing conversation skills in public locations. Other topics taught in the book are the alphabet, colors, numbers, months of the year, days of the week, commands, and thematic common words and phrases. Basic grammar was taught including but not limited to verbs, verb conjugations, irregular verbs, definite articles, singular and plural forms, personal pronouns, infinitives, masculine and feminine adjectives, and ser verses estar differences. New vocabulary terms and verbs were introduced during each of the five main topical lessons.  

I received a 50-page physical copy of the soft cover Conversaciones textbook, which is required and necessary for the lessons. The concepts gradually build on each other within each textbook therefore students are reviewing content consistently. A lesson covering the alphabet is found at the beginning of the book. There is a pronunciation guide, which helps the student with correct pronunciation. A two-page spread follows the pronunciation guide listing common words and phrases. The mandatos or commands are listed on the next page. The book provides the Spanish word, English meaning, and pronunciation. The book also includes several options for making and using flashcards, which are later used during games and activities.

Many engaging games and activities are presented at the front of the book. The author also sent me a password via e-mail to access a plethora of games and activities found on their website. We enjoyed playing Memory, Bingo, Matamoscas, Burbujas, Tic-Tac-Toe, Frío y Caliente, and Cuál Falta. We had to switch out the two or more player games since I homeschool an only child, but it was easy to do with all of the options from the book and online.

In addition to the textbook, we received a conglomeration of resources and digital downloads sent via e-mail. All files must be downloaded and saved within five days. You’ll need Adobe Reader to view several downloadable zip files in PDF format and a way to listen to MP3 files such as iTunes. The following items were sent electronically: Differentiated lesson guides, audio MP3 formatted zipped files (narrated by a native speaker and the author), printable flashcards and drawings, self-checking worksheets, and five MP3 formatted songs with printable lyrics. You also have the option of purchasing classroom lesson plans for a co-op setting. I accessed the files on my Mac computer using Chrome as my browser.   

The three lesson guides were organized into three grade range categories: Grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. The PDF formatted guides were easy to understand. Each grade level contained twenty-four to thirty weekly structured lessons with fewer lessons offered in the 5th-8th grade levels. The content, which progresses in difficulty level, offered enough material for an entire school year. The upper grade levels include more independent work and writing. The detailed lessons are taught in a step-by-step manner.

Over two hundred worksheets are also provided in PDF format. They are categorized by grade level ranges and further broken down into the five topical lessons. The self-checking nature of the worksheets and answer keys provide students with the opportunity to check their own work for errors, which also increases exposure to the Spanish language and simplifies the grading process for the teacher. You have the option of printing out items as you work through the content or printing all of the worksheets. The worksheets include written translations, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, matching, and other simple exercises. I assigned several worksheets per week depending on the lessons.    

It is suggested that you utilize the Spanish For You! curriculum four times per week for ten to thirty minutes each day. I used this schedule with my nine-year-old daughter who works at a 3rd-5th grade level. She has some background knowledge in Spanish. We worked through the 3-4 grade level guide. I printed six weeks out at a time and organized the materials in student and teacher three-pronged pocketed folders. This schedule can be easily implemented into your day and adjusted. The content follows a Learn, Use, and Interactive Use sequence and concludes with a Let’s Put It All Together component. You could definitely use the lessons in a co-op environment once or twice a week. Furthermore, you can adapt the lessons to meet your students’ needs and abilities.

We thoroughly enjoyed using this well-written curriculum. The lessons are short requiring no Spanish background knowledge. My daughter is retaining the material and building fluency. The curriculum is taught using a variety of teaching methods, which helped capture and maintain her attention. We appreciated having the catchy songs with lyrics, hands-on games, and flashcard ideas that make learning fun.

I highly recommend Spanish for You! to homeschool families and co-op groups. I would definitely buy this curriculum for all types of learners in third grade and up. I believe homeschoolers implementing an Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Thematic, or Unit Study approach will be interested in this curriculum. However, traditionalists may prefer a textbook approach rather than a theme-based approach. The curriculum is modifiable and flexible. The parent or teacher doesn’t need any background in Spanish to effectively teach using this curriculum. The native speaker audio files can be too fast at times so I recommend starting with the author’s narrated audio first. I wish that more partner games and cultural components were included. The home use curriculum package for all grade levels is priced at $64.95. It includes and plans out everything I need to teach multiple children in 3rd-8th grade with minimal preparation.

Spanish For You! offers other thematic curriculum packages on their website including Seasons, My Life, Travels, and Celebrations. My daughter and I have successfully completed several of the available books, but Conversaciones was our favorite theme.

 

-Product review by Tracey Masters, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017

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