One of my absolute favourite things about home educating is the freedom & flexibility you have. The freedom to learn what you want, when you want, how you want and even where you want. Several years ago, Bean8 asked me if she could start learning Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself, but I’ve always wanted to learn, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for us to tackle a new language together.
As a Brit, I often feel very humbled by the ubiquity of the use of English across the continent and embarrassed at my own inability to communicate in others’ native tongues. Anything I can do to help my own children become more multi lingual feels like an incredible gift.
Learning Spanish at Home
We use a number of different resources at home to learn Spanish. I invested in the family download version of Rosetta Stone when it was on offer and we all LOVE it. The kids happily pop their headphones on and work through a couple of lessons a week, often asking to do more! It works on an immersion style experience, where native Spanish speakers introduce new words and concepts in a carefully designed order to accelerate the language learning process. It’s highly interactive, and requires the children to get the pronounciation of the language just right before they move on. My husband watched Bean7 do a lesson recently and was really quite amazed by his accent!
The Michel Thomas CDs have also been a wonderful addition to our Spanish education. We play these audio CDs on long car journeys or sometimes as part of our morning basket, pausing as we go to build up the sentences together. The Michel Thomas method works by breaking the language down into its component parts, allowing you to reconstruct the language for yourself, creating ever more complicated sentences. I’ve been really impressed by how quickly the children are picking up the language using this technique, building and speaking really quite complex sentences.
Taking our Spanish on the Road!
To give our Spanish education a further boost last September, I decided to take our home school on the road and spend a week in Seville doing an intensive Spanish course. I was ridiculously nervous as it was the first time I’d taken the two of them abroad on my own, but it turned out to be one of our best weeks of home education yet! Seville is such a beautiful city, the weather was glorious and the immersive Spanish lessons offered by CLIC International House were truly outstanding, thanks to a phenomenal teacher.
I arranged for them to have immersive style private lessons in the morning, leaving us free in the afternoon to explore the city and practise their Spanish, whilst visiting the sites and sampling the delicious food on offer. The highlights for us were the Cathedral and Giralda, the Alcazar castle and its beautiful gardens and watching flamenco dancing in the Casa de la Memoria.
On returning home, Bean8 wrote an article for an ezine she writes for, which beautifully sums up her Sevillian experience:
Recently I travelled to Seville in Spain and had the great opportunity to be taught immersion style language lessons. In this approach, my teacher, only spoke Spanish, using gestures, pictures and repetition to help me understand the language. This allowed me to get my ear in and decipher the words she uttered. She spoke Spanish everywhere, including the toilets! She used repetition so that over time I could speak Spanish much more fluently than before. She also made me laugh so much I fell off my chair and it didn’t feel like work in the slightest!
One of the major advantages of learning Spanish in Spain was that I could instantly go and practice what I had learned with people in restaurants, hotels and supermarkets. Everyone encouraged me and appreciated my efforts to speak their language. I was extremely excited in the supermarket when I realised I could read most of the names of the foods! In restaurants, I asked for the table, ordered food and drinks and asked for the bill (my teacher taught me to use sentences like “Puedes darme agua por favor?” which means, “Can you give me water please?”). In the hotel I spoke lots of Spanish to the staff and they laughed and said, “Muy bien!” which means “Very good!”
I tried to make sentences or at least phrases out of the Spanish I knew, and even if it wasn’t perfect, my teacher congratulated me and encouraged me to try again. This encouragement helped me to improve quickly.
I really enjoyed my time in Seville and if you would like to do the same thing, I highly recommend the CLIC International House. I hope that in the future I will be fluent in Spanish and I will say that I owe some of it to my Sevillian teacher!
I’d greatly advocate a trip to this magnificent city and if you’re learning Spanish, immersive Spanish lessons are an excellent place to start. The whole experience gave an enormous enhancement to both our love of Spain and our confidence in speaking and understanding the Spanish language. I can’t wait to return one day!