Calico Spanish Stories Online vs. Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids

Calico Spanish Stories Online and Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids are both Spanish immersion programs for young learners centered around video stories that do not include English translations. Both are available for as online subscription programs at a similar cost, and both are able to be implemented regardless of the teacher’s Spanish-speaking ability. Both integrate repetition of key structures and vocabulary to help children acquire real language in context.

Beyond these similarities, we note several differences that will help you choose which product best fits your school. Calico Spanish Stories Online offers a standards-based program developed by experts in the field. Very young children find it highly engaging because of the 100% meaning-based video stories, relevant accompanying activities, comprehensive support materials, and fun songs supporting the program. Children can also engage in in-depth cultural inquiry directly related to the program content, ending in an actual target-language performance based on national cultural competence standards.

Specialists who know your world

Calico Spanish Stories Online was developed by two teachers who speak Spanish. The Calico Spanish curriculum developer holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education and a master’s degree in Linguistics (Second Language Acquisition). She has twelve years’ experience teaching Spanish to hundreds of students from 2 years of age through twelfth grade advanced courses and continues to be involved in teaching Spanish. She is the blogger behind the longest-running active blog in world language education and is frequently invited to present on best practices in language teaching at schools and conferences across the country. You can know that the Calico Spanish Stories Online program is founded on the best principles researched and put to practice by experts in the field. For information on the developers of Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids, see their website.

Engaging for very young children

Users report children from ages 2 to 14 being engaged by Calico Spanish Stories Online, particularly the video stories and songs, but the program’s sweet spot is from around ages 4 through 9. Each level of Calico Spanish Stories Online offers 8 sequential Video Stories that feature fun animal characters. The stories these characters portray are the vehicle that engages young children in meaningful, comprehensible language so that they can acquire it naturally. From the time they are introduced to Pedro the blue fish in the first lesson of Level A to the time they read a bedtime story with Rita the green frog at the end of Level C, children learn language by meeting new animal friends and experiencing their world with them. If your learners are over age 9 or so, it is likely they will be more engaged by Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids. However, claims that real-life videos are more effective than animated stories are unfounded in research or general experience. With Calico Spanish Stories Online, you can know that very young children will enjoy walking through our video stories with fun animal characters. To get to know all the characters, try playing a few of our free Sugarcane games.

Comprehensive support materials

With Calico Spanish Stories Online, there’s no guessing game on what materials are and are not included. With your full access to the online program, you can use all of the materials supporting all three currently available levels. You have immediate access to all of the Teacher’s Guides with step-by-step lesson plans. You can view, download, and/or print the flashcards, the posters, and the activity sheets that accompany the program. In addition to the Video Stories, you can view and use the supporting storybook videos and song videos. With the subscription, schools gain access to the members-only store, where you can also order full-color, professionally printed/bound copies of the Teacher’s Guide, Student Activities Book, flashcards, posters, storybook sets, and audio/music CDs (which are, remember, already available to you in digital form on the subscription site).

The flashcards available to you represent every vocabulary word or phrase for every level: 80 flashcards for Level A, 122 flashcards for Level B, and 160 flashcards for Level C. Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids offers in their online store a set of 150 flashcards representing the vocabulary from their Volume 1 lessons (1-3) only.

Calico Spanish Stories Online is developed on the premise that children learn through stories, songs, and meaningful context. We offer beautifully illustrated, full-color posters and storybooks with instructions on how they support your lessons explicitly written into the lesson plans. Teachers not yet comfortable reading the storybooks on their own benefit from audio tracks of a native speaker reading them, and these accessories make a fantastic Spanish-language addition to a school library. Lessons are also paired with the Calico Spanish original music, representing some of the most popular song videos available on YouTube for young Spanish learners with millions of views. Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids does not feature posters, storybooks, or music.

Each lesson of Calico Spanish Stories Online offers 2 or 3 Student Activity Sheets that directly support the content of that lesson. The Activity Sheets start with word-level practice but quickly ask children to make meaning with language as they interact with the activities. Children are never asked to do an activity like a word search that tries to incorporate vocabulary disconnected from meaningful context. Schools using the workbooks for Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids may find that not only are they not available for all levels of the program, but within the levels that do offer workbook activities, the activities may seem disconnected at times from the goals of the lesson.

Unmatched cultural inquiry

Twenty-first century education is all about inquiry: not so much memorizing information as learning how to find information and evaluate what do with it, how to be changed by it, once it is found. It’s about empathy with perspectives that are not like our own. Calico Spanish Stories Online has taken a bold approach to intercultural education unlike any other program. Whereas Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids offers a somewhat typical approach of presenting a collection of information about a particular country at a time, Calico Spanish Stories Online includes in-depth culture capsules built on an inquiry model. Children and teachers explore cultural information in English and then are asked to investigate deep questions of culture together, such as how and why people celebrate birthdays or what leads people to label a particular food as “disgusting.” Each culture capsule is directly related to the content of the level, and each level includes 3-4 capsules. Each capsule ends with a Spanish-language task that meets one or more national standards for intercultural competence.

Making the choice

You may want to choose Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids if your learners are over age 9 and will be more interested in videos featuring real children than those incorporating animated animal characters. They may also enjoy the addition of the Dice-Off! game. Additionally, if you need your students to complete closed-ended questions within the computer application and have these scored and reported to you, you should investigate Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids further, as Calico Spanish does not yet offer this capability.

You will want to choose Calico Spanish Stories Online if your young learners will be more engaged by animated, fun animal characters and if you want a program designed by experts in the field and supported by detailed lesson plans, storybooks, more visual aids for your classroom environment, and music in every lesson of every level.

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