I haven’t written about it much on this blog, but once upon a time I taught high school French and Spanish, and two of my friends from my Masters teacher credentialing program still teach incredible Spanish language classes in Bay Area public high schools. Finding good language learning materials for young kids especially can be a challenge, so I was very happy to receive the Whistlefritz Educator’s Spanish Collection to review – particularly once I realized just how wonderful this curriculum is!
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One of the biggest challenges for teaching a foreign language to kids is getting them engaged. the Whistlefritz videos captured the attention of all four of my kids, through music, animation, and storylines that can be followed even if you do not know the meaning of each word. All of the videos are entirely narrated in Spanish – no English! Research shows that this type of immersion teaching is the best way to learn a language. The videos have the same words repeated over and over within the storytelling and dialogue so that kids watching have multiple opportunities to work out what the word means by hearing it used in several different contexts. Hearing a word spoken over and over also helps learners understand how to pronounce the word. Songs written using melodies and rhythms found in several Spanish-speaking cultures are used to keep viewers engaged and learning. This program is actually the very first time I have seen this type of research-backed foreign language instruction through immersion done appropriately in a video context! I was so excited to find this series!!!
My kids really connected with the animated characters included in the videos, and six-year-old Johnny and five-year-old Lily especially have spent hours playing with the language cards that came with the set. Two-year-old Anna would watch the videos all day long if I let her, and all four of my kids are speaking some Spanish now! The collection also included a book full of written activities for kids, and I plan to do those this summer with the kids, once they are out of school and have more time at home.
I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to teach children Spanish, either as a homeschool language learning curriculum or as after school enrichment or in a traditional classroom setting. This is by far the best language learning program I have seen for elementary school aged children!
Are your children learning a second language?