Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: Brookdale House Fun Spanish

Spanish has become a very popular second language in our household. Kelly has enjoyed several programs we have used, and is always looking for new ways to learn and practice Spanish. When the opportunity came along to review The Fun Spanish Level One from Brookdale House, we were excited to check it out and use it!

About Brookdale House: This company has an entire lineup of Charlotte Mason style home school curriculum resources, for elementary age students. There are no set grade levels, and a variety of topics to choose from,  including History, Geography, Writing, and of course, the Spanish program we tried out. The emphasis of their curriculum is copywork.

About The Fun Spanish: This course, Level One, uses a variety of vocabulary words to teach basic grammar, sentence structure, verb conjugations, and prepositions of elementary Spanish.  The program consists of seventeen lessons.The time it takes to complete the program is up to the parent and student. By doing one lesson per week, it can be finished in one semester or  a lesson can be stretched out over two weeks and fill an entire school year.

How the program works: We received the 218 page e-book, printed the lesson pages, and placed them in a 3 ring binder. We began with the grammar and pronunciation review guides at the beginning of the book. Thankfully, we already have some Spanish experience so it was not difficult to decipher the words and vocabulary that were listed.

A lesson can be accomplished over one week's time by following the schedule in the book. Each lesson is about 10-12 pages long and has multiple vocabulary words. Nouns and verbs are matched together to create fun, silly, and memorable phrases, which help the student remember the meaning of the words, and enjoy building silly sentences. By following the lesson plan, words are reviewed carefully throughout the entire lesson, and each day builds on the previously learned concepts. On the last day of the lesson, there is time built in to go back and review prior words and sentences.

Each lesson consists of the following activities:
  • Verb conjugation
  • New vocabulary words
  • Translation practice (a sentence written in English that the student says in Spanish)
  • A Spanish sentence to copy and illustrate (these are typically silly combinations!)
  • Review
There are four models, or sections to each lesson. While they follow the same steps, each one contains a different set of words and a silly sentence, and they are meant to be done separately during the first four days of the week. The fifth day reviews all the words and sentences for the week, and creatively uses them together.

An example of Spanish sentences for the student to read and translate.

Translating a silly sentence

Illustrating the translated sentence

How we used Fun Spanish: I printed the lessons and started to work with Kelly on them, but soon saw that she was very capable of working independently on this. We would start off by going over the grammar and vocabulary at the beginning, but Kelly was able to complete the rest of the lesson on her own. Because she enjoyed it so much, she worked through the material at a much faster pace than what the schedule called for, and was completing several lessons per week. Since she was retaining the information, I allowed her to work at her own pace. Her older sisters, who have more Spanish experience, helped her with any pronunciation that she was unsure of, and made sure she was putting things together properly.

What we thought of Fun Spanish:  As I said, Kelly was familiar with many of the vocabulary words, and greatly enjoyed doing these lessons as copy work! She felt that translating sentences from Spanish to English was a very important and advanced task, and enjoyed this style of learning much better than just learning and memorizing lists of vocabulary words. I felt that because she was actually using the words in sentences, she remembered them much better. I loved hearing her laugh over the silly sentences that she had to translate, copy, and then illustrate. Since Kelly is at the older end of the spectrum for using this resource, I think she found it a bit easier, but that was a good thing because she immensely enjoyed the program. I feel like the copy work has given her great practice in forming proper Spanish sentences, and laid a good foundation for more advanced Spanish studies in her future.

Wish list: If I could add one thing to this program, it would be a downloadable audio file or audio CD with the proper pronunciation of the vocabulary words and sentences. While we were able to get some assistance from a knowledgeable source, if we did not have that luxury, I'm sure we would have been saying some of the words incorrectly. Though Kelly would have known how to spell and write them, she would not have recognized some of the words when hearing them. 

What a fun and productive way to enjoy learning Spanish!

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