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“Spanish is Not Fun!” said a 5 year old once.

April 29, 2010

In a world of brilliant minds, CEOs, entrepreneurs, attorneys, musicians, artists, and the list goes on, nine years ago I was confronted with the dilemma of wheter or not to teach Spanish and its bilingual benefits to kids. I had just returned from Barcelona, Spain where I had been looking for new venues to continue my business as a multimedia graphic designer in Europe but things did not work  out as expected. So, upon my return to Chicago I started teaching kids Spanish as a temporary gig. While doing so, I started listening to what parents expectations were about Spanish, and more important, what their kids were saying about learning a new language.  Then one day I heard this one kid tell his mom “Spanish is not fun” as she was dropping him at another class.  This got me thinking about how to provide a positive solution to this in a creative way, and I asked myself: How can I integrate my life experience as a designer and artist into teaching Spanish to kids using more than just games in a fun environment?  Not surprisingly for me, things worked out great.  By teaching kids Spanish through Art I was providing parents with a solution that they all liked as well as their kids.

Thus, I started vamostodos as a Private Home Bilingual Tutoring program. And for the past nine years I’ve been able to provide the programs to daycares, enrichment programs, bookstores, museums, Children’s Memorial Hospital, and other venues.  I’ve also had the opportunity to self-publish and sell a book from a series I continue to write titled CreARTe Volume 1, and thus, I continue to challenge myself by creating new ways of teaching others Spanish through Art and music, and approaching new institutions to work with in this endless journey.

Now, it is my hope to share the successes, struggles, and vision that I continue to build as an entrepreneur, parent, and educator. One student, one client, one day at a time.

Also, it is my hope that if you are in the field of education, a parent, artist, an entrepreneur, or simply a person who likes languages, that this blog may serve you well.  Share it with others, or write back to me with your questions, suggestions, or answers.

Now, since there is much ground to cover I will start by talking about the “fun” aspect of leaning a language, in this case through Private Home Tutoring.

Its not just about the FUN!

Although “Fun” is a word used by many businesses that teach languages and many other kid programs to entice parents to the amount of entertainment their kids will get if they enroll, in my experience, marketing things as “Fun” is is not the best approach to truly get anyone to learn a language.

Sure, language-learning activities can be fun depending on who is teaching and how they apply them.  But let’s be honest…helping learners get new vocabulary in their head, teaching them how to associate it to things, and helping them see the practical uses of every word for their lives, is a task that goes beyond mere fun environments.

You can still make the teaching/learning experience something fun and meaningful, but don’t loose focus on what you are doing, as it is not just about the fun.

So, here we go with goals that may help you out if you are:

Teaching (as a private tutor)

First goal: provide students with practical situations where language can be immediately used for a real purpose. This may mean you  would be taking them to coffee shops, bookstores, walks around the block, etc.

Second goal: provide specific vocabulary related to the places that you visit, i.e. stick to zoo animal words if you are visiting the zoo! You may accomplish this through reading materials, vocabulary sheets, flash cards, etc.

Third goal: help them connect the words with the objects, places, things they see. i.e. play “I Spy” games, or do a scavenger hunt of things that support your theme.

Now, here we go with goals that may help you out if you are:

Learning (this applies to any age group)

First goal: create a list of weekly themes that you are particularly interested on, and pick one theme a week to learn about. i.e. restaurants, animals, objects, house items, transportation, etc.

Second goal: set a number of words you are willing to learn on a weekly basis that relate to the themes chosen. My recommendation is an average between 10/25 words per week.

Third goal: start your own journal where you can write words or phrases in English that you would like to learn in Spanish, and look them up, or ask for help in translating.

Conclusion

Well, there are many and different ways of learning and teaching a language. For that reason in my next blog I will start by talking about why I chose art as a way of teaching kids Spanish.

Do you want to add anything to the list? Are there topics you want me to address? Post a comment.

Until then, spread the word about this blog, join the conversation, and let’s learn together.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 1:01 pm

    Well, something that helped me grab a good deal of vocabulary (English), was to start reading stuf written in English with no purpose of teaching the language. I started with easy stories, then moved on to read magazines, and so on. Maybe incorporating some interesting things to read helps.

    Nothing substitutes commitment I guess. You do everything to get submerged in the language, and you will sure learn. Make it a one hour a day, and you get nowhere.

    Quizá podrías escribir sobre este tipo de cosas. ¿Cómo me sumerjo en el lenguaje? Y llenarlo de tips. Con Internet disponible, hasta podrías sugerir sitios que leer, desde principiante hasta avanzado.

    Que te sea leve,
    –Gabo

    • May 8, 2010 10:10 pm

      That’s exactly my intent. Thanks for taking the time to read the post. More coming your way as the weeks go by.

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