They changed the Spanish alphabet…

Alphabet song updated by Calico Spanish.As we recently blogged, in 2010 the Real Academia Española made some rather significant changes to the official Spanish alphabet.  Let’s review what those were:

  • The letters ch and ll were removed; they are now considered “digraphs.”
  • The new name of “y” is ye.
  • The only name for “B” is be.
  • The only name for “V” is uve.
  • The only name for “W” is uve doble.

So, as we evaluated potential updates Calico Spanish Classic for Schools, our print curriculum for Spanish-language specialists, this update was a priority (along with adjusting our references to how the color words for “pink” and “orange” are used: see that other post for more information).

…so we updated our song, too.

Our major change to the Classic for Schools curriculum was to incorporate all of our alphabet lessons into the core chapters of the Teacher Manual.  Before, each chapter included only one letter, with all the rest included in supplemental lessons in the appendix.  Now, all of the official letters are incorporated into lessons in the chapters, with the lessons for “ch” and “ll” moved to the appendix for teachers wishing to do a lesson on these traditional (but eliminated) letters.

Obviously, we couldn’t update our alphabet lessons in Classic for Schools without also providing an updated song for teachers.  And in true Calico style, that song is now uploaded on YouTube for all teachers and learners to enjoy.  If you’ve been looking for an alphabet that you know reflects the current RAE official one, here it is:

And of course, you’re also always welcome to use our earlier song, based on the traditional Latin American alphabet that you’ll still find in many children’s learning materials.

We’re glad you enjoy our music, and we’re always looking for ways to provide you with what you need to teach well.  Enjoy!


#Langchat teachers gathered once again last Thursday to collaborate and converse about strategies and advice for conquering that first day back to school.

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Day 1 Essentials

#Langchat teachers shared some key techniques and activities to making the first day back in the classroom a success. On day one, create “some form of plan that allows you to get to know something about your students and generates excitement about your course,” suggested @MadameHeadleyPH. From the beginning, lower the “affective filter,” the term for the emotions toward the learning experience, because anxious students are not ready for langauge acquisition. “Get [students] excited and confident that they can learn a [foreign language]- reassure them that they can do it!” (@Marishawkins).  @marthaca82 finds that “establishing a welcoming classroom culture” is important. Day one can be used as a “beginning to form solid foundations for relationships with [students]! Also, ‘expectations’ can be established for [teachers] and [students]” (@SrtaOlson). @Srta_Zeiner said, “I find that using the target language from the second they walk through the door is key!”

Establishing Rapport with New Students

Establishing rapport with students can build trust, confidence, and create a safe learning environment. @BThompsonEdu shared, “make it really basic those first days to build confidence. Make it comprehensible. Smile.” According to @SrtaOlson, “celebrating their small wins, being eager and excited to help them, learning of their personal interests and following up” can build rapport. Getting to know students individually is helpful, whether they’re in elementary, middle, high school, or beyond. @MlleSulewski said, “I like to chitchat while taking attendance. Ask ‘How’s your first day going? Did you have a good summer? What are you looking forward to?’” When teachers are transparent and real with students, learners feel more at ease in the classroom. “I like to tell them a bit about myself, my family, etc. They can see I am a real person. Be yourself from the beginning,” said @kkeefe_hassan. @MmeSraResch agreed and said, “tell them non-school related things about [yourself]. Talk about their activities. All in [the target language] of course!”

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What ‘Old’ Practices Will You use This School Year?

#Langchat teachers reflected on the ‘old’ practices they used in the past that will continue to be helpful in the new school year, especially related to curriculum and implementing best practices.

  •   @MlleSulewski shared, “I am really hoping to continue incorporating CI & TPRS techniques with my ‘big kids.’”
  •   @nathanlutz plans to continue using “lots of humor and music” with the children in his elementary classes. He will also continue “working [his] tail off to keep it all comprehensible and real. [There will be] lots of comprehension checks.”
  •   @EspanolTeacher will use “reflection journals for interpersonal activities based on ACTFL descriptors. Game changer for me last year!”
  •   @Rdene915 will also be getting back into the routine of playing music when [students] come in; let them dance a bit and have fun.”

What ‘New’ Practices Will You use this School Year?

#Langchat teachers also shared some new practices they hope to implement in their World Language classes this school year.

  •   @Mmeshep shared that she will be “working on closing the feedback loop by having students self-assess, respond to feedback and set goals.”
  •   @Alenord wants to rely more on familiarity in her Spanish classes this year.  She’ll “avoid adding too much new to the plate…. Going to dig in my tool box and enhance use of tools I have now.”
  •   @Ogmsespanol said, “TPRS!!!! I’m a 9th year teacher who has JUST NOW heard of this. Started [yesterday] on day one and I already love it!!”
  •   @Profeashley wants to have “more free reading time” in her classroom.
  •   @ginlindzey will use, “more focused & meaningful ‘tasks’ for addressing speaking/listening/writing proficiencies in Latin.”

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Self Care

It is important for teachers to be mindful of the ways they can care for themselves amidst the busyness of a new school year. For example, @MllesrtaUrso plans on “going to the gym, setting aside time for reading every night and having a cup of tea before bed.” @SraWilliams3 shared, “I will take my time away from work and be present with my family & myself.” @MmeSraResch creatively plans to enjoy “one ‘for myself’ activity per month…alone! For example, get a facial, haircut, massage, or even just a cup of coffee at coffee shop.” In order to care for others, teachers must first care for themselves.

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Thank You

A special thank you to our lead moderators, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) and Elizabeth (@SraDentlinger) for starting off a new round of #langchat strong. Thank you to all #Langchat teachers who participated. If you have a topic or idea you would like to discuss, please check out our #langchat wiki to make a suggestion. See you next week!


Are you a teacher who has recently subscribed to Stories Online and wants to know what content you can share with parents at home?  We often receive this question – time for a blog post to answer it!

Rewind… Stories OnWhat?

Calico Spanish Stories Online is our all-online program developed to fill a need for effective Spanish curriculum for young children regardless of the teacher/parent’s Spanish ability.  While we still believe children need intentional interaction with a guide and technology doesn’t replace that, we do believe that children and their non-Spanish-speaking teachers and parents can accomplish something given the right tools.  We set out to make that tool.  What we came up with turned out to be so good, it’s increasing in popularity among Spanish-speaking teachers in the classroom, as well.

Stories Online currently consists of 3 levels:

  1. Level A: “I’m special!
  2. Level B: “I love my family!
  3. Level C: “I live here!

Briefly: each level consists of 8 units, with lesson plans for between 11 and 13 days per unit.  Each unit is based on a Video Story featuring fun animal characters and comprehensible Spanish (no English, though translations are included in the Teacher’s Guide).  In each lesson plan, children interact with the Video Story and various associated activities to help them acquire the Spanish needed to accomplish the lesson goal.

Got it.  So what can I share?

If you have a subscription to Stories Online, you’ve purchased access to all of our content, in all of the levels, all of the time.  So what are the limits?

Only digital? Only yours.

For content that only exists digitally, those products are only part of our membership site, and they are password restricted.  These include the Story Videos, Storybook Videos, and the Dialogue Videos.

Basically, your username and password is for your use only.  Your membership is for one teacher to use with all that teacher’s students.  Please do not share your username and password for anyone else to use.

Printable? Share it!

Many of the pieces of the curriculum that are available on the digital site are printable.  You are able to print all of the student Activity Sheets, including those associated with our innovative Culture Capsules.  Please feel free to send copies of these home for students and parents to work on together.  You may foster a better community effort among your young learners and even inspire a family to learn a new language by asking parents to help children with Culture Capsules and asking children to use their Activity Sheets to present what they’ve learned to loved ones at home.

Playable? Share it!

Of course, our extensive collection of videos available on YouTube is viewable anytime, anywhere.  We recommend you give parents the links to videos you’re using in any given unit.  These videos can even be embedded on your school webpage.

We also have used the engaging platform Sugarcane to create several fun games directly related to our content for you to use and share.  Within the membership site, you can navigate to Resources/Games and click on Play Now to locate these games and then share the URL.  Also, you can view all of our games by visiting our content directly at Sugarcane.  One exception: Our proprietary concentration game is only accessible via the Membership site at this time, but there are several of this type available on our Sugarcane account.

We’re thankful you allow us to partner with you in guiding your learners on their Spanish-language journey.  And we’re thankful that so many teachers are concerned enough with digital copyright law to ask us this question.

Where will you (and those at home) take your young learners today?