29 October 2009

Is your child using Spanish outside the classroom setting? Things to look for...

The ultimate goal of learning Spanish is to indeed use it outside of class time! It can seem like a long wait, and getting "nothing" to the question of "What did you do in Spanish today?" can be so frustrating and worrisome!

However, seeing Spanish move out of class and into the rest of your child's life is truly just a matter of time, which varies from child to child AND with the kind of instruction they are getting. Play-based, communication-based lessons where the children are actively engaged and using Spanish to participate in activities is likely to produce faster results than a more passive class where children simply look at flash cards, repeat words, and color pictures of the objects.

We frequently see children in our classes using Spanish at home in the following ways:

1. Private practice.
Some children will play with Spanish sounds and words when they are playing or spending time alone. They may or may not be 'trying' to keep it secret or private. Some children just play at it quietly - almost subconsciously - while others are actually putting effort into practicing sounds and/or words by themselves, but not feeling confident or sure enough to share with others.

2. Inventing Spanish words and phrases.
I get lots of comments from parents... You know, she sounds like she's speaking Spanish, although I have no idea what she's saying! This may be 'real' Spanish or invented. Either way, it's appropriate, common, and fabulous!

3. Singing class-time songs.
If you haven't heard HOLA-HOLA yet, you might ask your child how it goes. If s/he can't remember how to start it on the spot, try putting your hand up by your face like you are going to wave hello and start to slowly say HO-LA. This often prompts our students to start singing the song. If that doesn't do it, don't worry! The cup may still be filling - it will runneth over!

4. Isolated words or phrases come out of nowhere.
Outside of class, a child might see an object that we are practicing the vocabulary for, or hear a word that sounds like a Spanish word from class and be inspired to say what they know out loud.

5. Active, conscious effort
to say or practice Spanish words or phrases outside of class. A child may (randomly or routinely) make Spanish part of their playtime with friends or decide to order in Spanish at a restaurant (Yo quiero ___ por favor = I want ___ please). This kind of use shows real mastery over what they are learning in terms of functional communication. It need not be perfectly pronounced or demonstrate perfect grammar. The idea that they recognize when to use Spanish and what words to use for a given situation shows their control of the language. Not to mention their interest and enthusiasm!

Whatever your child might be demonstrating in terms of Spanish at home is very likely to be a tiny fraction of what s/he does in class. They are bombarded during class and in being so, are in "Spanish mode." The familiar setting, materials, and routine activities of class help them access their spoken Spanish skills. Using their Spanish skills outside the class is what we always love to see and hear about, as it shows the cup filling up, enthusiasm about learning Spanish, and a growing mastery of its usage!

What have you seen your child do outside of class time?
Do you have questions along these lines?

We want to know so share below!!!


1 comment:

  1. I really love when language learners make the sounds of the new language. I always wondered what English sounded like to people who don't know it! I had a Spanish speaking girl tell me she was speaking English and the proceed to speak Spanish with an American accent. Hilarious.