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,