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El Espanol Facil (The Easy Spanish) Review by Heidi Shaw

Marie Filion

I am so impressed with this Spanish curriculum from Marie and her husband. I love the Spanish language, and as much as I tried to get my kids excited about French since we live in Canada, it wasn't till we started on this program that they got really excited! The Easy Spanish is so much fun and so easy to implement, I just can't get over it. The program combines ease of use and sheer delightfulness with a focus on homeschooling and the Lord. You just can't beat this package!

Following the same format as their popular Easy French program, Marie and Peter introduce you through written and spoken stories to the Spanish language. You jump right into a conversation between two homeschool cousins who are meeting each other for the first time, listening to and reading a mixture of Spanish and English as you follow the lesson.

However, what really makes El Espanol Facil work, in my opinion, is its ability to provide something for everyone regardless of age or progression in the language. Whether you are a young beginner or an independent older learner, there are lesson components, activities, and enrichments that will meet you right where you are. I am astounded by how much scope and variety Marie packs into each lesson. The CDs that accompany the program are extremely well done, and the pronunciations are easy to replicate since they are recorded so clearly. The printable worksheets are also on CD.

Marie builds grammar into each lesson as well, so the student is not just hearing and repeating words but rather is growing to understand the syntax, the sentence parts, the "why" of the language.

I was hooked when I understood how closely The Easy Spanish follows the Charlotte Mason theory of language instruction. Along with the narration activities for the younger learners, there are specific sections for older or independent learners, giving them guidance in such things as keeping a journal in Spanish. These students can set their own goals and follow the well-ordered schedule and attain competency much more quickly than if they were following a traditional text program.

All students will keep a notebook. (Each student will need a 2" binder.) Also, there are two recommended resources for older learners that will be needed by the end of the second quarter: a Spanish/English dictionary and a verb reference book. Links to the preferred volumes are available on the Easy Spanish website.

Each lesson begins with a vocabulary list that is in both print and audio form so that you and your student can practice over and over again. Students incorporate the vocabulary into their lives right from the start. No rote memory work here! They use the words in fun ways that make them easy to remember. The program aims to make the Spanish language a real part of your lives. The potential is very exciting!

Also included are phonogram cards of all the letters of the Spanish alphabet. I suggest you laminate them. You can use them to play memory games and other activities as well.

Another wonderful part of The Easy Spanish is the authors' obvious love for the Lord. There is a Scripture verse in Spanish every other lesson and a very cool scroll printout for the students to write their memory verses on. Marie also works in conjunction with Wycliffe Bible Translators helping missionaries prepare for the mission field. In fact, after you finish level 1, if you mail your program to Wycliffe, Marie will give you a huge 30% discount on level 2! This applies to both Spanish and the French programs and is a fabulous idea.

Honestly, there are so many goodies packed into every lesson that it would take too long for me to list them. Every time I open the book or pop in a CD, I find new tidbits that show how much thought and time have gone into the preparation of this program. Everything from activity sheets to use on days when nothing seems to go right (we all have them!) to lesson plan templates, student checklists, and even recipes, games, and crafts. Marie has set up several different study speed options, and you can choose the format that best suits your home. Totally cool, totally complete, totally amazing. Do this for yourself and your children--you will be SO glad you did.

Marie and her husband Peter have also made a CD of Spanish songs that is an absolute joy and isn't at all grating or annoying. I highly recommend it to supplement your study. Adios for now, amigos. You will love El Espanol Facil!

Product review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2006