Current language instruction theories suggest that students learn best through exposure to messages they can understand. These messages are termed comprehensible input. Calico Spanish provides many resources to assist you as you present visual and audio input for students to help them understand messages naturally and without the use of English translations. The needs of both visual and auditory learners are met as you present graphics, pantomime concepts and speak in the Spanish language. Furthermore, students are frequently encouraged to become actively involved in lessons through TPR-style responses and participation, which addresses the needs of kinesthetic learners.

Language learning theorists also tell us that students will benefit most from instruction and comprehensible input when they are comfortable in the setting where language is presented. Creating student comfort lowers the affective filter and makes language acquisition possible. Calico Spanish uses fun graphics, engaging music and interactive lessons to increase students’ comfort with the Spanish language and thereby increase their acquisition and retention of the language.

Calico Spanish allows you to apply the best in language learning theories in your classroom as you engage in the following practices:

– Present meaningful content.

Each lesson is full of visual and audio clues to help students understand your messages and create a framework of Spanish upon which they can build as you present increasingly complex input over the course of the program.

– Expect comprehension before output.

Before students can successfully produce Spanish, they need many opportunities to interact with meaningful content in multisensory ways. With Calico Spanish, all the senses are engaged as students repeatedly become involved with the lessons so that their comprehension builds steadily and opportunities to produce Spanish are offered at the students’ level.

– Provide a comfortable learning environment.

Students are offered opportunities to produce Spanish in non-threatening ways such as singing or using flash cards and sentence frames to create sentences.

– Give proper place to grammar.

Competence with Spanish is predominately achieved through exposure to the language (hearing, reading, speaking and writing). While grammar is very useful to improve the clarity of communication and can give extra confidence to some students, it is not easily learned by young students. Calico Spanish encourages teachers to focus on specific, simple grammatical structures and use them repeatedly to give students a sense of routine and increase their comfort with the Spanish language. (This technique is sometimes referred to as ‘caretaker speech.’) These simple structures provide building blocks for the students as they are exposed to increasingly more complex topics. The structures of focus in Level 1 are used to communicate needs, wants, likes and dislikes giving your students critical communication skills in the Spanish language. In Level 2, students are exposed to a wide variety of grammatical structures in the context of excellent books, music and activities.

– Focus on communication, not form.

Language serves a purpose and that purpose is to communicate with one another. With Calico Spanish, teachers will be encouraged to celebrate student efforts to communicate. Correcting factual errors is sensible, but when grammatical errors occur, teachers should simply expand or restate when it can be done as part of the normal flow of the conversation. The goal of the program is not to produce error-free Spanish because errors are a natural part of the language acquisition process. The types of errors most commonly heard in new learners are unlikely to prevent basic communication between your students and native speakers. Let students share their ideas and opinions in Spanish and watch their skills improve as their comfort, confidence and exposure to Spanish increases.

– Create a comfortable learning environment.

When students are comfortable as they are exposed to Spanish, language acquisition happens naturally. To increase student comfort, routines are established from the first lesson. Variety within those routines makes every Spanish class fun and enjoyable for students, and Calico Spanish offers students interesting input in every lesson. Teachers will use Spanish as much as possible during lessons, but will not need to require students to limit themselves to Spanish. Students can ask questions in their native language and teachers are easily able to repeat the question in Spanish and then respond appropriately. Students will be given ample opportunity to practice pronouncing words through songs, recitation of simple lists (i.e. months, alphabet) and answering questions with simple Spanish responses. Spanish abilities build gradually as teachers focus on providing interesting comprehensible input in every lesson.

In summary, Calico Spanish allows students to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through a wide range of interactive activities. Students will enjoy their Spanish experience as the teacher uses the custom visual aids and music resources to guide learning, share the Hispanic culture, and reinforce language concepts. Bring Calico Spanish to your classroom and watch your students excel as you implement the best research-based Spanish teaching practices with your students.

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