Monday, October 19, 2015

REVIEW: The Fun Spanish by Brookdale House


Haylee was really interested in taking a look at The Fun Spanish by Brookdale House.



The Fun Spanish is a fun and creative workbook that teaches elementary students to build their Spanish vocabulary, learn prepositions, how to conjugate verbs, as well as the fundamental structure of Spanish sentences.  All this is done through entertaining phrases and sentences mixed with demonstrating their understanding through drawing.

This program is based on the principles of Charlotte Mason and teaches students one Spanish phrase at a time.  It uses everyday vocabulary words that are common in the life of a child.  It introduces an average of 5 new words daily and has the student manipulate them through copying, illustrating, and memorizing.

You can take a look at a sample lesson and see how funny it can be!  The humor and silliness of it attracts kids and keeps them engaged while they slowly build their vocabulary and sentence structure.

This workbook is available as a printable e-book for just $14.95, or as a printed book for just $19.95.



Haylee was already doing another Spanish program for our homeschool, but when the opportunity to try out Fun Spanish came along, she jumped at the chance to do it once she saw that there was going to be drawing involved!  She’s the little artist in the family, so I knew this would be right up her alley.

DSCF4417I should start by telling you how this program is laid out.   I received the e-book version, so the first thing I did was print out the entire workbook and spiral bind it with a laminated cover.  I made it pink to make Haylee happy.  She likes things with color.

In the front of the workbook, there’s an introduction that explains the concept behind the program.  Then there are some helpful suggestions for memorization and a quick review of pronunciation and grammar rules.  There’s also a suggested schedule based on whether you want the course to last one semester or a full year.  There are a total of 17 lessons, so you can either complete one lesson per week or spread each lesson over two weeks by inserting extra review between each model of the lesson. 

Each lesson contains 5 mini-lessons, and the first 4 of those consists of a 2-page spread of verb conjugation, vocabulary, and translation practice that includes drawing an illustration of the sentence you’ve translated.

Haylee sat down the very first night and just went to town with this workbook!  I could hardly get her to stop.  She said DSCF4418it was so much fun that she wanted to keep going!  I decided to let her take the lead on it and go at her own pace, as long as she didn’t stop in the middle of a model. 

In the verb conjugation exercise, she was given examples of how to conjugate a particular verb, showing it in both English and Spanish, and then she had to copy the underlined portion on the lines in the workbook for practice.

In the vocabulary exercise, she was given an average of 7-9 vocabulary words with their translations that she would need to practice and memorize.

In the translation practice, she was given an English sentence and had to orally translate it into Spanish.  I also had her write it down in Spanish underneath so she could practice speaking it properly. 

Then in the model, she had to copy a Spanish sentence onto the lines in the workbook and then draw an illustration that showed the meaning of the sentence.  Here, I also chose to have her translate it into English in writing.

One thing I know about my children…everything they learn is more memorable if there’s some kind of fun factor involved.  In this case, the illustrations that Haylee gets to create are that fun factor for her.  Just look at how much fun she’s having here!

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In the photos above, you can see that she illustrated the sentence “I am a big cat with long green legs.”  Then it was “He is an orange rat with eight hairs.”  Then came “She is a pink bear with three ears.”  Lastly, she translated and illustrated “We are friends.  We are playing in the garden.”  That last one was a good choice of sentences because it demonstrated both the state of being and the temporary condition of “we are” in Spanish used in context.  So while the sentences are sometimes very humorous and the drawing is fun, the lessons being conveyed are worthwhile and memorable in this context.

The last part of each lesson is a 2-page review.  It includes both a verb conjugation review and a vocabulary review.  Students are allowed to look back at the lesson for help if needed, so there’s no pressure involved…it’s a review, not a test.  The final portion of the review is a fifth model that has the student read and review all of the Spanish sentences learned in the other 4 models in the lesson, and then they must attempt to translate one or more of them into English on the lines provided in the workbook.  The answers to all of the translation work are located on the back of the review exercises for the student’s convenience in checking their own work. 

Haylee really enjoyed the exercises.  She did a great job of translating, too.  She’s not the kind of student who ordinarily does more than the bare minimum that’s required for school, but I noticed that in model 5 of the review pages, she actually translated ALL of the sentences given by her own choice.  That’s a sure indication in my book that she really, really enjoyed the lessons!

I felt like there was just enough repetition of the phrases and sentences to help the student commit them to memory without becoming boring and overly repetitive.  If it had, Haylee would have been the first one to let me know!  She continues to be excited about this program and looks forward to doing the lessons in addition to what she was already doing for school.  She thinks of it as fun exercises rather than a learning activity, but she’s definitely learning as she goes along.  She declared she liked it better than what she was already doing! 

I really like that this program is not overly simplified the way a lot of elementary Spanish workbooks tend to be.  There’s real verb conjugation and sentence construction in this program, and I haven’t found a lot of elementary programs that include that.  Yet at the same time, it’s given in small, digestible chunks that aren’t too much for kids to digest at once.  And they are given in the context of really fun and entertaining lessons.

I’ve actually never seen another Spanish workbook that’s set up this way.  It seems to be unique in that way from my experience.  I did notice that the first page of the e-book says “Level 1” underneath the title.  I don’t know for sure, but I certainly am hopeful that this implies there might be future levels for older students.  If there are, I would certainly be interested in continuing this program for Haylee now that she has begun middle school.  It’s definitely a good fit for her learning style and gives her just the right motivation to work through the lessons.

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this and many other products from Brookdale House by clicking the banner below.