Date(s) - 02/14/2018
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm

Gear Up

Age level

Join Heather J for another six weeks of Spanish!

We’ve enjoyed one six week session together. Many of us are still firmly beginners, while other grew a great deal! It is a fun and engaging group. Experience a great way to learn another language. 

How many times have you heard people say, “I took two years of Spanish and can’t speak a word!”? The traditional way of teaching foreign language is not necessarily the most effective. See how gestures, action sequences, and skits accelerate the process! I would love to teach your children Spanish in ways that will build real fluency, engage, stimulate, and produce results. Discover the power of storytelling!

This is truly a beginners class. The program does require the ability to focus and listen for an extended period and is likely more effective with basic reading skills. I would recommend grade 3 or 4 and up, but you know your children best. Basic language skills can be acquired, or things can be taken further with more at home practice.

Typical Class Structure:
Each lesson begins with an introduction of the new vocabulary and structures.  Students will see the words as they are listed on the whiteboard, hear their pronunciation, and model a gesture for each word or phrase.  This gesturing, known as Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method developed by linguist, James Asher. Studies in brain functionality and linguistics show that TPR facilitates foreign language acquisition for all age groups by activating various motor cortices of the brain. We will be using stories and skits from the Excelerate SPANISH program.

Throughout this introductory phase, words and structures are combined in novel ways and practiced using gestures.  Whenever possible, previously taught vocabulary is also inserted as review.  By presenting words to students in context rather than in isolation, they’ll quickly develop a “feel” for the patterns and flow of the Spanish language.  An intuitive understanding of the rules of language always precedes formal language study as we learn our first language.

Note that during the initial period, they won’t ever feel pressured to speak. Forcing early production provokes anxiety, which hinders language acquisition.  Instead, they’ll be encouraged to speak as they feel motivated or when they have something to communicate.

Following the introduction of the new vocabulary, students will hear the words and structures again, this time in the context of a series of actions.  Embedding the material in action sequences provides not only additional practice opportunities, but also a rich context aiding the brain as it processes and stores information into memory.  Students will see the entire sequence enacted, then they’ll have the opportunity to use gestures to “act it out” on their own.

In addition, each lesson includes a clever skit or “dramatización” also featuring the lesson themes and vocabulary.  The skits are carefully crafted to surprise the students with funny, zany, or touching story elements.  Tapping into their natural emotional responses to stories does far more than you might expect- it actually turns on the “limbic system,” yet another part of the brain, accelerating you along the road to fluency and improving their retention to boot.

Work at home:
I will provide leveled reading selections in each lesson for independent reading.  These “lecturas” offer students an additional way to engage with the lesson content while continuing to advance towards proficiency.  In keeping with the Excelerate SPANISH philosophy, the “lecturas” aim to delight them with fun and unpredictable story lines, plot twists, and endings. There will also be optional worksheets to practice vocabulary if students wish to take their language learning further at home.

About your instructor:
Heather Jacques got the travel bug early and a summer in Cali, Colombia gifted her with a love of the Spanish language. She then studied a La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. She holds a B.S. in education with a double major in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After graduation she taught eighth grade Spanish in Franklin, MA and then seventh grade in Hanover, MA. With the decision to homeschool, Heather has had the ability to explore more creative ways of teaching language and has been privately tutoring homeschoolers for the past 10 years, in addition to running after school elementary programs through New London Rec. and here in Warner.

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