For those of you who don’t know, Matt was a missionary in the Dominican Republic for two years and is fluent in spanish. My girls are intrigued with languages, so from the time that they were very little they were always begging Dad to teach them spanish. When I told them we were going to be able to review Song School Spanish by Classic Academic Press, there may or may not have been hysterical laughter and unprecedented excitement emanating from the general direction of my two daughters.
Song School Spanish is an introductory spanish language program geared towards children grades k-3 (ages 5 to 9 (ish)). The heart of Song School Spanish is the songs (SONG School Spanish… get it? Badump Ching!). The student book (CD included) ($24.95) contains the vocabulary words, worksheets, lyrics to the songs (especially helpful), and stories with the new spanish vocabulary mingled in with the story in english. Each lesson introduces a few new vocabulary words based on themes (i.e. introductions, meeting people, “how are you”, etc.). Two or three songs per lesson help the kids learn how to pronounce the words as well as use them in context. The children learn Spanish words and phrases in a logical order. Each lesson builds on the last with review lessons sprinkled in for good measure.
We started on Song School Spanish the day we got it (I would have had a minor mutiny on my hands if we hadn’t). Within minutes we were swimming in words like “hola”, “maestra” and “estudiante”.
Since there were so many of us, I decided to use our white board so Lucy, Emma and Spencer could all see at the same time. As always, when I pull out the white board, visions of public school dance in their heads; which basically means they take it upon themselves to raise their hands, sit in an orderly fashion with sharpened pencils in hand, beg for worksheets and repeat after me in perfect unison. They have exactly one year of public school experience between them but apparently it left enough of an impression that they assume the position whenever I put on my “school marm” hat. I’m not going to complain, it does keep the complaining and bickering to a minimum… it just weirds me out a little bit Don’t worry, it only lasts five minutes before someone is standing on their head.
In the student workbook the lesson starts out with a list of spanish vocabulary words and their english counterparts. After that introduction is a song or two that uses each of the words in the proper context. Often the songs are put to familiar tunes like “Frere Jacque”.
For example, in the Classroom Commands song, some of the the lyrics are:
Escribe, escriben write so neat,
Write so neat, write so neat
Repite, repiten, please repeat,
After me repeat
After the song (songs) is the chapter lesson which explains the new words and a few of the rules associate with them (i.e. when to use el or la). The kids then trace (for the younger kiddos) and/or write the new vocabulary words as well as other worksheet activities designed to reinforce the new words and cement them in their memory. The chapter stories (in several lessons but not all) are familiar children’s stories (i.e. three little pigs, tortoise and the hare) with spanish words replacing choice english ones.
The Teacher’s Edition ($24.95) contains the text of entire student manual with the answers. Given the simplicity of the subject material, the answers alone are not enough in my opinion to purchase the The Teacher’s Edition; HOWEVER, the last half of the The Teacher’s Edition contains additional “worksheets” for each lesson. I say “worksheets” (in quotes) because the papers are much more fun than the term implies. Crossword puzzles, coloring pages, matching games, word searches, and more. A lot of people may not think that The Teacher’s Edition is worth the additional expense, but I really like the extra fun activities.
In addition to the student book and teacher’s manual, there is a card game called Amigo Match (26.95) featuring over 100 spanish words and instructions for 3 different card games (in addition to the games your children will make up using the cards). You can save by buying the bundle of both the teacher and student manuals AND the Amigo Match cards for $66.95.
Song School Spanish is a great resource for a beginning spanish vocabulary. Now that you know what Song School Spanish is, I must explain what it is NOT. Song School Spanish is not a Spanish 101 course. It does not teach verb conjugation, go into detail with masculine and feminine words, nor does it spend much time addressing spanish grammar or the rules for the language itself. That being said, Song School Spanish is a wonderful introduction to spanish. I think that age five is a little young, but a mature six-year-old and older would be able to keep up with it. That being said, all of my children (Ages two to ten) really enjoyed the lessons and could be heard singing the songs from the day’s lesson.
A word of warning… be prepared to have Song School Spanish songs in your head for at least an hour after your lesson