Tip 10 – Proven models for teaching Spanish to kids

Tip 10: Proven models for teaching Spanish to kids

The push these days is toward student centered learning.  So in order to make decisions on what is right for your Spanish learner, you should know the different Spanish teaching models and figure out which one is right for you.

Total Immersion Spanish classes In a Total Immersion model, the language of instruction is completely in Spanish. This develops the ear quicker. It can be a good model for very young children who spend many hours a day immersed in the new language.  The main challenge with this model is the initial steep learning curve where kids get frustrated with lack of understanding.  This model is found in some schools, but most elementary schools do not have this option for parents.  

Dual Immersion Spanish classes In a Dual Immersion model, class time is split between the student’s native language and the foreign language being learned.  This happens across all academic subjects, not just language.  Many more school districts are identifying a portion of their schools to be taught with this model.  And almost all of them have a waiting list as parents try to seize the opportunity.

Comprehensible Input Spanish classes Comprehensible input means that students are presented with enough verbal English, visual pictures, or gestures to understand the Spanish lesson.  When input is comprehensible, the transition to a learned phrase is easier for students.  In this model, the teacher speaks Spanish most of the time, using English only to ensure that the input is comprehensible to the students.  This model is particularly useful when the contact time with the student is very limited such as after school enrichment. 

Don’t get stuck with the default Spanish program What is not described is the typical Spanish class taught throughout American school systems.  Textbook driven and heavy on vocabulary and verb conjugation memorization.  It’s hard to develop a love of language via a worksheet.  By knowing these models, you can ask informed questions of schools or teachers to see which method is employed.  Can anyone recommend a school/model combination that worked for your kids?