Happy Independence Day, Homeschool Mama! Save $17.76 on the whole curriculum this weekend only with the discount code HAPPY4TH. Enjoy!
Please come to the Homeschool Gathering Place for a FREE Spanish lesson and foreign language workshop! Whether you are a homeschool parent, student, or a foreign language teacher/tutor, this workshop is for you.
Come and discover:
2. What brain researchers and language acquisition experts are saying
3. Simple techniques that improve retention
4. How to provide contexts that increase appeal and enjoyment (because learning another language is AWESOME and should feel that way!)
5. The difference between various curricula, programs and methods
6. What kinds of free/cheap resources are most beneficial and HOW TO FIND THEM
7. How you and your family can work smarter, not harder, and jump over this hurdle successfully!No matter what AGE, LANGUAGE, or BUDGET you’re working with, I would like to help you find what you need.
“What’s different about Excelerate SPANISH?” This is the question I hear most often at homeschool conferences. I love answering it, and I think you’ll love the answer, too!
It’s really no exaggeration to say, “What’s different is everything.” Excelerate SPANISH is truly unique from the other choices available to homeschoolers today! Read the reviews and do a quick google search, and you’ll find that homeschool bloggers also find the program to be unique and amazing and fun.
To be specific, though, what’s different is the humor. And the multiple intelligence approaches. And the comprehensible input. And the focus on fluency. And the connected discourse (an essential characteristic of proficient speakers according to ACTFL).
Excelerate SPANISH lessons cater to multiple intelligences to teach your student holistically. The neuroscience behind the theory explains how physical actions, such as those used in Total Physical Response or TPR, help us to learn language.1 TPR increases motivation and personal meaningfulness, therefore your student’s retention also improves. The entertaining skits and action sequences are quite novel, often silly, and always attention-grabbing.
You may be surprised at what the use of humor can accomplish in a foreign language program. Laughter is a powerful tool! You see, your student’s positive feelings about the content (the stories that are told) will also influence his/her feelings about the form (the language used to tell those stories). After all, “what we learn with pleasure, we never forget.”2 Fun contexts honor the concept that “in the brain, emotion and cognition are distinguishable but inseparable.”3
Of course, there are other programs available that offer cute contexts. Unfortunately, many of these are “fluffy” (they constitute of “twaddle,” as Charlotte Mason might say). Excelerate Spanish is content-rich, utilizing high frequency vocabulary and loads of helpful everyday structures (grammar). As the student internalizes the patterns and flow of the language, output (speech) comes naturally. When connected discourse is sufficiently modeled, then connected discourse is also produced… And that, my friends, is fluency!
Experience the Excelerate SPANISH difference for yourself, and give your student the incredible gift of second language proficiency that lasts. Order today!
- Hannaford, C. (1995). Smart moves: Why learning is not all in your head. Arlington, VA: Great Ocean Publishers.
- 2- Mercier, Alfred
- 3-Schumann, J. (1994). Where is cognition? Studies in Second Language Acquisition 16, 231-42.
Now that the very first users of the Excelerate SPANISH program are wrapping up their school year, the feedback is beginning to come in! I’m excited to share it with you, and I hope that the comments of these moms will help to answer some of your own questions.
“We have loved the program. My children seem to retain most of what they hear in the Lessons and Dramas. (Two of them are Drama nuts and really enjoy the skits). My middle child is forever trying to come up with words that stump me, and sometimes he succeeds! I love that you use a larger Spanish vocabulary that was used when I began Spanish 1 back in middle school and high school. My 5th grader has managed to keep up with most of the workbook exercises, although sometimes I tell him he doesn’t need to do all the written translation activities, if I can hear him verbally translate. It is good to hear them WANTING to translate the silly sentences. Rather than the goofy sentences I had to translate back in school. ‘Me llamo Roberta. ¿Dónde está el gato?’
They all love the lessons and have all picked out “favorite lessons” ahead, based on lesson titles. They were quite sad to hear we were putting away the Spanish books for the year. But don’t worry, we will be picking them back up in July as we cruise forward in our next school year.
We really don’t have any negative criticisms about the program, I have recommended it to anyone and everyone who has voiced a need for a Spanish Curriculum. I like how you teach the verb tenses, but I also know my 5th grader doesn’t really get the point of such exercises. He does them, but doesn’t see the need. Keep in mind, this is the same child who doesn’t see the need for soap in the shower… (Just keeping it real!)…
My daughter will finish the book next year for her Spanish 1 requirement for high school. And we both hope that there will be an Excelerate Spanish 2 in the near future. After using the Excelerate Spanish curriculum, nothing else seems like a good fit for my kinesthetic family. I fully intend to repeat the course for my boys once they hit high school as I am a huge fan of repetition being an excellent teacher!
Thank you for demonstrating your desire to keep your curriculum up to higher standards, by constantly looking for ways to improve it.”
-Bobbey S. in NC
“Are you going to have a next level of your Spanish course? We absolutely love your program and would very much like to stick with you if you are doing it… I have never had so many conversations about about worms and hooks and eating worms!… We have boys 10, 12, and 14 and us adults listening to your program and we are all learning, like it or not (the boys crack up because their father will stand in the kitchen silently watching when he thinks no one is paying attention!)… Thanks for such a fantastic program!”
-Jodi O. of NC
“Our co-op class really enjoyed the Spanish class through Excelerate Spanish… We have nearly completed the book. The children and I have had so much fun in this class… For homework, the children would write silly sentences or silly stories and they enjoyed this. Often, they illustrated their stories and I would read some in class.”
-Jackie L. of NC
“I Love , Love, love this curriculum!!! I can’t say enough about how amazing it is, except to say Caryn, you got it right!!! Are you working on curriculum for any other languages? Latin??? 😉 Thank you for your work in putting this curriculum together!!!
You ABSOLUTELY have my permission to use my name and comments. I plan to begin singing your praises from the mountain tops!!! This is better than Rosetta Stone and so much more affordable!! I will continue to keep my eyes out for your other works in years to come!!!”
-Sandi G. of NC
I hope to post additional comments soon. In the meantime, please check out these Excelerate SPANISH reviews from homeschool bloggers. Also, if you haven’t already grabbed your new 2014 Annual Print edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, please do. I’m pleased to relate that Excelerate SPANISH received positive mention in two separate articles!
If you used Excelerate SPANISH this year, would you please take a moment to contact me with your feedback? I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and suggestions!
What is the best way to meet your homeschool Spanish goals? How can parents and students get the greatest “return on investment” (ROI) for your time, effort, and often, money spent on foreign language programs?
A friend of mine is known for saying, “I believe in using the right tool for the right job.” That bit of wisdom applies to many things we do in life, doesn’t it? The right tools can help us to save time, save money, save materials, and save us from unnecessary grief and heartache. The right tools can bring smiles to our faces and a spring to our step! Could your student use that in his or her school day? Could you?
The best tools reflect thoughtful design (I can’t help but think of my Dyson here!) and require less effort from the consumer, even while yielding better performance/results. I don’t know about you, but when I plug in an appliance, I want for it to do more of the work, not me! Please don’t go believing that tools that make the job harder somehow confer more knowledge to your students. The wrong tools are simply that, bad tools.
When it comes to homeschool Spanish, you want tools that work with, not against, your student’s brain. You want tools that take into account how language is actually acquired and what helps us to retain it. You want tools that are known for producing positive results.
What about grammar? Well, let’s not lose sight of what we all know did work when we acquired our first language. It wasn’t grammar study first, then fluency later, right? What worked the first time, what helped us to acquire and retain?
Laura Zuchovicki of Conversabooks writes this about our early language experience:
Learning “to talk” is a slow process that comprises of listening to adults around us. The adults surrounding the baby use “verbs” without explicitly explaining the grammatical rule behind it. Nonetheless, babies receive continuous repetition of certain words until they are able to use them within the appropriate context. The tangible outcome proves to be successful when the babies are officially communicating in their first language…
We simply continue the language acquisition progress until we perfect oral communication and are ready to enroll in the academic life. It is not until we are about six or seven years old that we discover the purpose of grammar within our language. The process of acquiring language is as long as running a marathon.
If the first language is predicated by pure experience, without opening a book or studying the grammar, why do we insist on reversing the process to acquire a new language? In my opinion, the standard should be as follows: “In my Spanish foreign language class, I will not teach my students about the Spanish language and its grammar. I will teach my students to speak in Spanish so that they are able to communicate with others.”
Laura is right— it is indeed backwards to flip the entire paradigm of language experience upside down! Yet this is what foreign language classes and programs have done rather consistently for far too long. But as homeschoolers, we don’t have to submit to a faulty model of language teaching. We get to choose educational philosophies, practices, and resources that harmonize with our needs. We get to choose our tools, and we choose the best!
Still worried about grammar? Keep in mind that fluency in Spanish will always lead to greater grammatical accuracy than non-fluency ever could. Excelerate SPANISH is not anti-grammar! We simply choose to approach grammar naturally and in context. In so doing, students internalize (rather than temporarily memorize) the patterns and flow— the structure— of the language. It’s a kinder, gentler, and more effective way of doing things.
If your goal is to provide Spanish I for your high school student, fluency is the key to proficiency, including test-taking proficiency. Excelerate SPANISH is for you. If your goal is to become conversational so that you can be better equipped for that mission trip, special vacation, or move, then Excelerate SPANISH is for you. And if you simply want the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with Spanish speakers, then Excelerate SPANISH is for you!
Accelerate language learning.
Discover the Power of STORY.
Your Homeschool Spanish!
As young children, we acquired our native language(s) because of relevant, personalized, compelling comprehensible input. Unfortunately, this is what is lacking with most foreign language programs. Fortunately, in today’s digital age, finding solutions is easier than ever, once we know what to look for.
Appropriate input can include videos, music, television, news articles, podcasts, books, conversations, sports narrations, and more. You’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to find TONS of it for FREE! This article explores 25 ways to access, adapt, and/or create comprehensible input…25 ways to accelerate your way to the proficiency you want!
Since comprehensible input is so crucial to developing fluency, you may want to seek out additional resources, too. As you evaluate the usefulness of these resources, just make sure that the “level” is not too difficult for you (not frustrating) and the content appeals to you personally. Also, extended contexts are highly preferable to disjointed, rapidly changing contexts— in other words, stories and other connected discourse are best. Plus, they’re just more fun. Win-win!
To find comprehensible input for the foreign language of your choice, simply google the words “comprehensible input” along with the name of the target language (e.g., “comprehensible input mandarin chinese”). Then evaluate the search results according to the criteria above. Try to spend a little time each day with a good comprehensible input resource.
Things NOT to worry about just yet: Perfection. Grammar (conjugating verbs, learning structures). Translation. Making the sounds correctly yourself. These things have more to do with output than input…and that’s putting the cart before the horse. You can’t give what you haven’t received, so don’t fret over spending the time you need soaking up input. Relax and enjoy the input.
If you decide that you want to go with a curriculum, I hope you’ll consider Excelerate SPANISH. It was created to provide relevant, personalized, compelling comprehensible input—via scenarios that resemble real-life situations, imbued with humor, and rich in content.
I hope this post helps with your personal quest. If you find some really great free resources and think we should all know about them, please pass on the good news!
The key to becoming really proficient in Spanish is practice, practice, practice…but how is a homeschool family to accomplish this goal most advantageously?
Obviously, choosing the most effective curriculum is an important first step. Make sure that your program’s approach is based on sound principles. Many common practices are not best practices, and a little research up front can keep you from wasting valuable time and/or money in the long run.
Then, find additional “comprehensible input” to further familiarize yourself with the patterns and flow of the Spanish language. Here are some guidelines to help you select the most practical resources:
- Pick those options that are interesting, appealing, and enjoyable for you. There’s just no need to settle for tedious or dry material. Speaking another language is fun, and your activities should be, too.
- Use audio, reading, and visual materials that are at an appropriate level for you. The bulk of the language should be comprehensible to you, with just enough element of challenge to keep you progressing.
- Speakers (live or recorded) who are willing to enunciate, speak slowly, repeat, etc. are ideal! Of course, there are also benefits to hearing Spanish spoken at a natural pace, so that you won’t be thrown for a loop when you face native speakers in real-life interactions.
- Remember that when you learned your first language, fluency came first, then grammar study— not the other way around.
- Sometimes, the best things in life really are free. That’s also true when it comes to “comprehensible input.”
For conversation practice with native speakers and/or other students of Spanish:
- Shared Talk is a little-known but wonderful treasure offered for free by Rosetta Stone. You do not have to own or use the Rosetta Stone program to access Shared Talk! Click here for more details or to sign up. (Parents, remember to always monitor internet use by your children!)
- English-Spanish Chat is another such resource. There are fewer members, but I have heard positive feedback about this site.
- The Mixxer allows for language learners to find a conversation partner to talk to via Skype.
For authentic comprehensible input:
- Notes in Spanish offers free podcasts at various levels. If you like, there are also worksheets you can download and use.
- Here is a Children’s Digital Library you can access for free!
- These sites offer videos and/or TV shows in Spanish: Argentina’s Public TV, TV al Vivo, TVN, Nicaragua’s Canal 15, Spain’s Tele Madrid, ANTV, and Univision.
- To listen to music in Spanish, visit this site featuring over 600 stations! I also liked the music videos here.
- For news, see Telemundo‘s site or Madrid’s ABC (or google, of course).
- BBC Languages is no longer updating their site, but it is still functional and well worth exploring!
If you find other sites that you’d like to recommend to homeschool families, please tell us! Also, feel free to let us know which resources were most beneficial to you.
Gracias, y buena suerte con su práctica.
Su segura servidora,
What is Total Physical Response and how can it help you with foreign language acquisition?
This awesome introduction to Total Physical Response reveals tremendous advantages for language learners. Summarizing, TPR has been demonstrated to:
- Reduce student inhibitions
- Facilitate long-term retention
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Help academically weaker students
- Train students to guess from context
- Increase student confidence
- Offer a refreshingly different style of teaching/learning
- Provide more effective, comprehensible input
- Encourage active listening
- Access and capitalize on the strengths of the right brain
- Offer easy ways to review
- Keep the class in the target language more
- Promote goodwill between student and teacher
- Incorporate humor
- Increase interest and enjoyment
That is quite a list of benefits, isn’t it? What great news for language learners of all ages! And it’s important food for thought for parents and teachers as we select our curricula. After all, couldn’t we all use ways to work smarter, not harder?
Excelerate SPANISH incorporates TPR into every. single. lesson. All students can enjoy this fabulous “brain-switching” approach and the feeling of success it provides! Nothing breeds success like success, after all.
Whether your student is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner–or has special needs or is gifted or is average–Total Physical Response can empower, motivate, and achieve the success you want for your foreign language program!
Accelerate Language Acquisition.
I taught Spanish in the public school classroom for 10 years, mostly at the high school level, then to homeschooled students (mine and others) for about 8 years. I am not a fan of traditional, formal curricula for foreign language learning. Some students will learn in spite of them… but many more inevitably wind up complaining, “I took x number of years and can’t speak a word.”The long-term retention (even short-term retention, in many cases) just isn’t there.
Fortunately, there are brilliant and talented professionals who have analyzed how the brain works and how we human beings acquire language. If you want to be sure that your curriculum choice aligns with how your child’s brain works, check out the following articles by Dr. Stephen Krashen and Dr. James Asher.
“In study after study for 25 years, laboratory experiments and classroom observations have demonstrated results that were extremely positive. When the instructor skillfully uses the target language to direct the student’s behavior, understanding of the utterance is transparent, often in only one exposure. Also, the understanding is achieved without stress and then retained for weeks, months, and even years.”
My personal experiences as a language learner AND as a teacher of foreign language completely agree with Dr. Asher’s studies and observations! Don’t we all want those positive results, transparent understanding, accelerated learning, and long-term retention??
A fascinating article by Dr. Stephen Krashen highlights the advantages of natural approaches that offer students comprehensible input or CI. He indicates that “communicative situations” help students to acquire the language:
“Students in classes that provide lots of comprehensible input (e.g. methods such as TPRS) consistently do better than students in traditional grammar-based classes on tests that involve real communication and do just as well, and often better, on grammar tests. These students have acquired the grammar and vocabulary of the language naturally, and can use what they have acquired in real communicative situations. They are also more likely to continue foreign language study.”
The value of CI and “communicative situations” is confirmed as Dr. Krashen explores the intriguing success story of a Hebrew learner named Armando. Armando became so fluent that he actually fooled native speakers, prompting Krashen to consider the implications for optimal foreign language acquisition. His conclusions:
“Armando’s case…shows us that one can do quite well in second language acquisition without living in the country in which the language is spoken and without formal instruction. The crucial variables appear to be comprehensible input and having a good relationship with speakers of the language.”
Dr. Krashen also believes that a complete absence of formal grammar instruction appears to be irrelevant as it relates to the successful acquisition of a second language! Yet what is the focus of so many foreign language programs? Isolated grammar!
Putting the research into my own words, this is how I would describe effective foreign language curricula:
1. Lessons mimic real-life situations using as MANY senses as possible… sight, taste, touch, etc.
2. Vocabulary words and structures are embedded in meaningful contexts (no rote drills).
3. Interest level is high–topics or situations are appealing to students.
4. Low–preferably zero–frustration for the student. Foreign language learning should be pleasant!
Excelerate SPANISH combines TPR with comprehensible input (CI) and realistic “communicative situations,” and further adds humor and suspense in order to fulfill each of the criteria above. The TPR element appeals to visual and kinesthetic learners and activates the motor cortices of our brains, accessing more of the brain than so-called “traditional” methods. Exciting action sequences, fun stories, and stimulating reading material draw upon the retaining power of the limbic system. 24 full-length lesson videos on 4 DVDs provide all of the necessary instruction for the program, and the coordinating lesson book and workbook furnish students with practice opportunities, activity suggestions, and more. And of course, the answer keys take any guesswork out of the equation! It’s comprehensive and easy to use.
Try Excelerate SPANISH at no risk!
Discover the POWER OF Story.