The focus of BJU’s Spanish program is to prepare students for sharing the Gospel with native Spanish speakers. Consequently conversational skills are emphasized—though not to the exclusion of grammar and compositional skills. Materials are available for students as young as preschool, though the early work centers mostly around the most basic elements (numbers, letters, etc.) that are covered in a few pages in the high school texts.
How Do These Work?
Elementary: For preschool and kindergarten there are picture books written in English that introduce kids to Spanish vocabulary; these are accompanied by songbooks with CDs for kids to sing along with. There are two main kits for grades 1-3 and 4-6 centering around consumable student worktexts, and supplemented by CDs, flashcards, readers, even puppets. The content for the elementary grades is uniformly introductory.
Middle/High School: There are three middle school/high school levels for grades 7-12—each level covers one year of study. Each level includes a non-consumable student text, teacher guide, activities manual with accompanying teacher edition, and tests with test key. For levels 1-2 there are supplementary CDs for pronunciation and vocabulary.
The teacher editions are comprised of reduced student pages with marginal notes and a scope and sequence for lessons. The activity manual teacher editions simply contain answers to the student activity exercises, with minimal notes. Tests are matching, multiple choice, true or false, etc.
While the teacher editions are helpful and include the authors’ philosophy of language instruction, they aren’t necessary, especially if you have a background in Spanish. At the same time, having the answers to all exercises readily available will greatly cut the amount of time you need to devote.
Each level is designed for use 3-5 days per week. Student texts are colorful and attractive; all teacher materials are in black and white. Students read text and complete written exercises and that’s about it, though emphasis is placed on oral communication and review during the class period. Teacher involvement and guidance is important, and while not entirely necessary due to the comprehensive nature of the student texts, the idea of having students teach themselves a foreign language is absurd.
There are elements of immersion- and grammar-based programs in the high school courses, though neither is adopted fully. Many words are taught without using English at all, and grammar instruction is always present (though not always systematic). There is a biblical emphasis throughout, and students learn about Spanish-speaking cultures along with the language.
Our Honest Opinion:
These texts will get the job done and can be adapted to a home school situation, but the most common complaint about BJU’s Spanish program is it’s disorganization and lack of clear progression. Teachers fluent in Spanish have also complained about the difficulty of implementation. Others like it because of the Christian focus. If you want an excellent immersion-style course that doesn’t ignore grammar instruction we suggest you try the Tell Me More computer-based program.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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