An increasing number of foreign language programs developed for home school families focus on the practical elements—improved intercultural communication, business relations, and spreading the Gospel are among the most cited reasons to learn another language. ¡El Español Fácil! Level I is no exception: the creators' goal is to equip students for Christian evangelism. In fact, those intending to purchase Level II (not yet available) can send the complete Level I curriculum to Wycliffe Bible Translators for 30% off the second level.
How Does This Work?
This is a self-contained program. You get a single 400+ page textbook with two CDs from which each PDF consumable student workbook page is printed (a particular advantage for multi-child families or co-ops). The spiral bound text includes 36 weekly lessons, Charlotte Mason-inspired narration exercises, both hands-on and written exercises, appendixes with language rules and flashcards, and information about Spanish-speaking cultures.
For each vocabulary word, the CDs include female and male native speakers pronouncing them correctly. The emphasis is on conversational fluency, not grammar, so students learn lots of words and phrases, while grammar is taught more organically in the form of sentence construction within written dialogues in the text. In order for students to get a sense of the cultures in which Spanish is spoken, they make ethnic foods, do extra research, and even learn traditional songs and poems.
This is a Christian course, and Scripture memory work is an important element. Verses appear both in Spanish and English, and generally relate specifically to the Gospel of Christ; the audio CDs include each verse spoken aloud. Students are also called on to keep a journal in Spanish, using the vocabulary learned up to that point to talk about their own lives.
Author Marie Filion is a home school mother with years of experience in language research and instruction; a lot of work has gone into making sure ¡El Español Fácil! is scientifically and practically efficient and effective. Directions for using the course are included in the beginning of the text, and clearly present each step. There aren't a lot of frills, few illustrations (all in black and white), and not much busy work, just a basic presentation of conversational Spanish.
There are three tracks available. The basic track is for younger students, and can be completed in three years; the second is intermediate, and takes two years to finish; and the third track, for adults and high school students, takes one year. No prior knowledge of Spanish is required either for students or teachers: this is not a student-directed course, unless you're an older student or adult.
Our Honest Opinion:
This course is easy to understand and implement, largely because Filion has avoided any approach that isn't straightforward or fairly intuitive. Students will learn to speak Spanish fairly well, though if you're looking to teach them grammar you'd better look elsewhere. This is strictly verbal/conversational Spanish, though it will serve as a good introduction for more in-depth study. It is pricey, but the fact that the same book can be used with multiple children is a good counterbalance.
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