The Spanish Class

Mommy & Me Spanish Class Components

 (Daddies Too!)

 

Parent Teacher Talk

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Total Immersion

We create a total Spanish immersion environment for children and their parents. According to Patricia Kuhl, babies are “citizens of the world.” During their first year of life, infants are able to perceive and distinguish the sounds used in all of the world’s languages. While they listen to their parents speak, their brains are hard at work taking “statistics” on the qualities and frequencies of the sounds that they hear. As they approach their first birthday, the sounds that they have heard most frequently solidify to form the foundation for all further linguistic development. They become most sensitive to the language(s) they’ve been exposed to. Meanwhile, their ability to perceive and integrate new sounds decreases.

This is why it is so important to expose babies and young toddlers to a second language. At this age, their brains are sponges that are uniquely prepared to soak in sounds and rhythms of new languages. It is also key that infants hear language spoken by people in social environments. Interaction is vital to successful learning.

For more information, see Patricia Kuhl’s Ted Talk: The Linguistic Genius of Babies

Also check out this article on the cognitive benefits that stem from being exposed to more than one language as an infant: Why Bilinguals are Smarter

 

Puppets and Conversation

We use puppets to model Spanish conversation at native speaker speed, so that your MME Puppetchild’s brain becomes accustomed to the sounds and rhythm of the language as it is actually spoken. From an adult’s perspective, this speech may seem too rapid to process. However, the brain of an adult and the brain of a young child are capable of completely different things. For a young child, listening and observing interactive conversations allows them to hear the sounds of Spanish in a social and emotional context. Conversations include lots of repetition, rhythm, rhyme and musicality, so that children can easily identify distinct sounds as they listen and interact with the teacher and the puppets.

Read Alouds

When you read out loud, you are teaching about communication, and helping young children build their listening and memory skills” – from Reading to Very Young Learners

Stories are important for language learning. Narratives and favorite characters present language in a fun social context, which is key for successful linguistic development. When children are emotionally invested in their learning, they understand and retain more information.

 

Rhymes and Songs

As in English, Spanish nursery rhymes are easy to learn and help young children absorb common sound patterns. Same with songs. Songs are easy to learn, introduce vocabulary rhythmically, and can be repeated and memorized so that young children can build associations between the words and the objects that they are singing about. Through repetition, students will familiarize themselves with the words in each sequence. One of the goals of the class is to increase vocabulary and train young ears to tune into Spanish sounds.

 

Sign Language and Movement

Incorporating movement into lessons is an important part of creating a stimulating sensory learning environment. Moving, dancing, or actively pointing to objects encourages children to observe with focus and make form-meaning connections between language and their environment.

We also incorporate sign language into our lessons. Teaching sign language alongside Spanish has a threefold advantage (at minimum!). First, it presents a movement-based learning modality that is especially beneficial for kinesthetic learners. Children are totally engaged as they listen, repeat, and speak. Second, signs deepen the connection between English and Spanish words (many signs are the same in both languages). Third, it provides non-verbal children a way to demonstrate their understanding.

For more information about using sign language to build bridges between two languages, check out Bilingualism and the Brain and Baby Signing in Bilingual/Multilingual Homes

 

Play

MME playPlay is an essential activity for infants and young children as they develop motor and social skills. Having fun is also invaluable for language learning! The part of the brain that processes emotion also stores memory. Because of this, children (and adults!) tend to retain more linguistic information when this language is tied to happy and excited emotional states. Play also promotes multisensory experiences in which children are listening, looking, moving, touching or creating. Learning activities full of sensory stimulation promote growth of connections between brain cells.

For further information on early childhood language learning and the brain, see Can Preschool Children Be Taught a Second Language?

 

Accompanying Materials

The Spanish Class equips Mommy and Me Spanish participants with tools to practice at home. The CD and DVD are powerful visual and auditory reinforcements to the work we do in class. The bilingual songbook can be read out loud to children, and parents should use it to check their own understanding of the songs. Students who are developmentally ready can further engage with the content by coloring pages in the book. Students will get to “make their mark” and take more ownership of each rhyme.

 

Sharing ArtHomework and Facebook Sharing

Sharing photos and videos of activities that we do in class or at home helps reinforce learning and create a community of learners. Children will be proud to see their accomplishments recorded and shared for others to see! Feel free to share any “Wow” Spanish moments you experience with your child. It is much more likely that you will see or hear them speaking at home than in class!

Continued Learning

Check out this video of our Advanced Class students performing a skit about going to a restaurant: Advanced Class Skit. Their pronunciation is excellent and they are able to read at a fluent pace with emotional expression. The students featured here have been coming to The Spanish Class every Fall and Spring semester for four years! They also participated in our Summer Learning Camp. Regular exposure to Spanish at a young age creates a strong foundation for acquiring complex conversational, reading, and speaking skills in the future!