Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spanish immersion playgroup for kids

Through a series of divine circumstances, I came to teach a little playgroup/preschool made up of my kids and a few other children 5 years and under. It was crazy really how the idea grew from a group activity where parents would sing familiar songs with their kids, into language immersion, led by me. Parents still come with their children, but I'm the current teacher and I plan the lessons and select the songs, stories and activities for each week.

And it has been so good for my boys to have this once a week, one hour playgroup hearing so much spanish while interacting with other little kids. And I love it too. I look forward to the planning especially, it's definitely become a creative outlet for me!

We've only recently made it more educational. The past two times we've met there was more speaking with the children, repeating words and asking questions as opposed to singing the majority of the time.

I am trying to prepare only one big activity for the hour period and then the rest of our class is mostly routine. The first week we talked about vocabulary for a new song we wanted to learn and I made a big poster of the animals in the song and the habitats they live in. I asked them questions like "Which one is the monkey?" to begin with and then tried to see if, after repeating the new words, they could recall the name of the animal when I asked, "What animal is this?" It was very encouraging to see them all trying to make the connections between the pictures and the words we'd say out loud.

This past week I took an idea from a dvd called "Professor Parrot Speaks Spanish" and I drew out flashcards of the story Goldilocks. Then I told the entire story in spanish with lots of visuals and gestures.

I'm still trying to think up what I can do for this week that will be all in spanish, teach the kids without rushing them too much into unfamiliar territory, as well as be on a level for moms that have a limited vocabulary. Yikes! I need more resources for lesson plans!



My experience as a language teacher and teacher trainer (albeit with adults) applauds your idea of the complete contextualized immersion with the story. You might revisit that same story every week for a while, each time modifying it a little bit (like focusing on colors one time, for example), keeping it in the present tense, and then using the most common verbs with the kids during and after the storytelling (asking questions, demonstrating, acting it out, giving commands, etc). Accompanying it with pictures, props, and so forth makes the input even richer! What fun!

(This is the sort of thing I want to do in French in a year or two....)

Katy Marie
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Laura Michelle

Sarah, thanks for sharing some teaching tips. You sound like an old hand at language instruction :)

In fact I was stumped by what contexualization might mean and tried looking it up. I don't have formal training in this field and do not know much jargon! This is the link I went to but I can tell off the bat that this is a topic I will need to revisit to cement so many new concepts.

Me in a nutshell

Under One Techo | Under One Roof
I grew up an air-force brat, on bases and off bases, statewide and on foreign soil. Having lived in both Japan and Los Angeles (Little Mexico!), I have a love for both the Latin and Asian communities. But above all that lies a commitment to God, marriage, and family as the backbone of society. And with that, let the crazy, cultural mash-up begin..