Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spanish Lesson Plans: Teachers Day

Are you a Teacher who needs Spanish Lesson Plans? Today is your day! I will side track from learning Spanish and focus on lesson planning advice. Some of my advice might seem vague or general, but a lot of you will be surprised how often you over look these important pieces of advice.

Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! As you may already know, preparing for anything is paramount to your success. I must admit I am guilty of teaching classes unprepared and feeling a bit overwhelmed. So what do you do to prevent a disaster mi amigas/amigos?

1. Plan to have more material and exercises than time. Have you ever felt your class went by so smoothly and flawlessly only to realize there is still another 20 minutes to pass? Perhaps your forgot your spanish lesson plans at home on the table. If it happens, don't panic. just do something fun. Don't just lay out some material and have the students with their heads down droning over the paper. They learn better by being active. With this in mind, how about playing bingo in Spanish? Sharades? or Tic-Tac-Toe but before they can place a x or and o they must answer a question in spanish. If your unable to play any such games, perhaps you can start working in to the next lesson, later that night come up with something else to fill in the gap. I love field trips. Try a walk around the school (inside and outside) getting everyone to make notes of things they see. When you return to class, divide them in to two sides. Then have then write out (in Spanish of course) or act out what they saw, if correct, give that side a point. You get the idea! Even the most simplest of ideas can make the class time fly and your students will learn spanish with your new improved lesson plans.

2. Understand it. Don't be embarassed if you don't know all the answers. But do have a firm grasp of everything you teach. Children, young adults and adults will always have many questions to challenge your ability in Spanish. As with me, my mother tongue was English not Spanish. And more often than not, I get asked "how do I say..." or "can u read this to me and tell me what it means?" or the real wise cracks from the jokers who think insulting or swearing at me in class is cool. I may not know it all but I have a good idea of whats being said.

3. Rehearse If you need to. Rehearse your spanish lesson plans, practice pronouncing phrases, practice reading. Most teachers in their first year of teaching will rehearse until it makes them sick. RELAX. Get some rest and more importantly TAKE A BREAK and do something completely different for at least 30 minutes, then come back to it. Your mind should be a little more clear by then. You might feel more comfortable with being all rehearsed. But Don't be a drone either. No one likes to listen to a monotone or completely rehearsed language teacher.

5. Calming your nerves. The only thing I can suggest is. Doing some Spanish leg lunges or Spanish chicken walking. Perhaps I'll make a video for you sometime and give you a lesson. OR Just jump in to it and focus on helping people. Thats why your there and your apart of something so great that is passed on to generation after generation. SMILE! Teaching Spanish Lesson Plans, is really easy when you can just turn on a Spanish video or audio for the students to listen to. They learn in many ways so chill :)

4. You'll love rewards. Reward the students for their good work and behaviour. Ok, yes this is acceptable but the most important person to reward is... YOU! Class can be extremely stressful and draining, day after day. It's important to keep your mental health at its peak.

Ok I've given you a few tips to guide you with your Spanish lesson plans. I hope you incorporate these ideas in to your teachings. If you have any ideas or comments you'd like to share, Feel free to do so and lets make teaching Spanish better for everyone.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spanish Lesson Planning Taking a Different Route

I'm always on the look out for new articles pertaining to spanish lesson plans but I found something I had to share.

SPRING HILL - Notre Dame Catholic School Spanish teacher Alicia Grigsby spent the past school year sharing a classroom with a math teacher or pushing a cart to other rooms as a mobile teacher. As the math program expanded, she was left with even less classroom space.

The school looked for a solution and found it in a portable building used for storage on the school grounds. It wasn't ready to serve as a classroom, however. It needed a lot of work.

"We completely refurbished the portable," said Notre Dame business manager Ed Carpio.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE, Times Correspondent
Published August 23, 2007

The full article is here, but before you go, please read on.

I give this Spanish Teacher a huge round of applause for taking the matters to the next level and not simply bailing to a better school to teach Spanish.

I had also shown you this article to show some of you a point. Just because of the situation your in is unfavorable, doesn't mean you should skip to the next "better looking" hot spot. Sometimes sticking to your guns and paying your dues comes out in your favor.

Many times I've taught a lesson and it did not go well. And to make matters worse, the school had forced me to teach certain criteria in a certain way. In the beginning I had always followed as I'm told. However, once I was more confident, I took things to another level by suggesting and offering a change. Don't give up on your lesson plans. Perhaps they just need a change. Tomorrow I will bring you some tweaks you can do to improve your Spanish Lesson Plans.

Éxito Español,

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Word on translators for speaking spanish or creating spanish lesson plans

I'm sure by now you've used or at least wondered if there is a magic translator that you can use to do all the work for you... Well, it depends on

(A) Do you want to look like a confused tourist? or

(B) Do you want to embarrass yourself and have people laugh at you when you turn your back?

Which are you? A or B ?

Pros for Spanish Language Translator:

  • Sure, translators are simple and easy to use.
  • If you plan to teach then perhaps they will be helpful for creating simple lesson plans.
  • If your on vacation it might help you figure out that missing word.
  • Most free translators don't just translate to Spanish. They translate many languages. But why should you care if your in Spain? :)

Cons for Spanish Language Translator:

OK so look, I'm going to be blunt about it. I dislike the use of translators unless I'm in an absolute dire need or as a last resort. But let's take an online translator for example, I wont mention any names here, to help see my point.

  • I find if you using only one word, you've got about a 70% chance of translating it properly. When you try sentences, the problem is that the translator does not do a "human translation" well. Most of the time you will get ridiculous grammatical errors and most definitely the wrong or "similar" Spanish word.
  • I tried to translate "I'm good. Thank you. How are you today?". So I translated to, and from, and it returned as "I better. thank you. today You are?" Now this might be ok for some of you. However. When I took it a step further It went like this "do you have the time? I'm late and lost. I don't know where city hall is. Can you help me?" became "time can be? I'm after. I do not city room. I'm your Will aid?
Ok, so I hope you see the point a bit better. But now your wondering...

...where can you get these magical translator programs? There are many FREE websites such as Babelfish and Worldlingo. If you have your computer with you in your travels, you can download translator programs to use on the fly, no Internet access needed. If let's say you absolutely needed to get a translator and make it as portable as possible, buy yourself a "Pocket PC" (and yes they can be quite expensive so try Ebay). You will of course have to buy a translator program as well, but thankfully it's only a couple of dollars. I have an Ipaq and it works wonders for other things. As for translators, Ok, I ADMIT IT! I do have a translator program on my pocket PC but I don't use it.

The Solution?

So if your thinking "well what do i do then?" I'll guide you. Spanish lesson plans! Plan to learn Spanish. It doesn't take long to learn Spanish. If your serious you can try Rocket Spanish. STOP! I'm not trying to sell you anything. Scroll to the bottom that page and try the FREE 6 day course. If your impressed, spend the few dollars to download it all. If not, at least you can see what your up against and you can delete it and move on.

And Another Thing

Remember, don't waste your time with translators when traveling. How good would a translator be if you were in some sort of accident, your translator broken, and you can't move because you were in a car wreck? Not to scare you, but accidents do happen.

Ok enough of my rant today :) Get those Spanish lesson plans in action!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

When do you need to learn spanish?

Do you need create Spanish lesson plans tomorrow? next week? months from now? or are you planning a trip to Puerto Rico and want to explore beyond the tourist areas? Do you want to teach Spanish? Perhaps you've met someone, and speaking Spanish will secure your friendship and beat the language barrier. What ever your reason is, you need to plan with the appropriate instruction and remember that you aren't going to be "fluent" like Don Juan in mere months. You will however, be able to get around and even read some basic Spanish in as short as a few weeks depending on your aggressiveness.

Don Juan was a Spanish Womanizer(this is not the real Don Juan in the picture). I hope to be as smooth as he was, minus his unlawful acts.

Being Realistic

Realistically it's going to take you about 3 months no matter what course or lesson you choose to partake in. Usually your going to be doing 30 minute lessons each day, with half of the lesson being a modified regurgitation of the previous. They (being the companies creating the lessons) designed them this way because research has shown this is the easiest way for us to remember. You could however just learn a few simple questions for a holiday trip. But you will feel much more confident if you can communicate properly in the native language to your destination.

I remember making some Spanish friends and I thought I would dazzle them with my new found language skills. After I attempted to say "como estas usted? yo entiendo solo un poco." They smiled, and then laughed. I felt so embarrassed and they responded to me in English to make it even worse. At that point i decided to not test my skills until i had finished the course. Sure enough I had finished a few weeks early and was able to uphold a small conversation. My friends now routinely talk to me in Spanish and I am learning more and more all the time!

Something they don't tell you

Make sure you designate a period of time EACH DAY! Yes each and every day, to learn Spanish. The more you make it a habit, the better. I've seen all kinds of claims "do it at your own pace" but this doesn't mean do it for 2 days and take a week off. If you take lessons every day for 10 days and then only once every 3 or 4 days, you will be amazed at how much you forget. BUT DON'T CRY, because it's ok, you most likely will retain 60% of it. "60%? that's it?" Yep 60% but that's perfectly ok. When you start taking lessons you will see that a lot of the material is repeated in different ways. This is so that it doesn't become stale and keeps your brain working.

A good idea is to do the audio Spanish lessons either while exercising, after waking up, or as the last thing you do before sleep. These have been proven times for maximum memory retention. I myself have tested many times, and while exercising and just before bed seem to be the best for me.

Don't Panic! As Spanish uses the alphabet, some words are very similar to English, so it is one of the easier languages to learn.

What is your reason?

There are easier ways learn Spanish or than to put Spanish lesson plans together by brute force. As you may know, It can be painful to drill over and over again the same repetitive materials and get no further than when you started. "In fact, even more distressing is that research has shown that less than 5% of students studying a foreign language are able to endure the stressful nature of formal school training to continue studying the language more than two years (Asher, 1982)."

With out a reason you won't succeed. So what is your reason? If you want to teach Spanish or teach English in a Spanish country then you will definitely want to focus on a course which will give you the basics and work you up from there. It would seem ludicrous to start at university level and work backwards right? You basically have to become a kinder garden student all over again. Studying children's books and materials can be fun as they are always loaded with pictures and jokes. It's so cheap and effective to learn another language in today's society that there really isn't a reason to cause yourself more pain than necessary. Imagine back in even in the 1800's how one would try to learn Spanish if they lived in Italy. Computers, the Internet and schools and other modern technology really make it possible.

Perhaps you just want to learn to speak spanish. In any case, you need some specific goal and focus to lean toward. It not only keeps you motivated but makes the learning process much easier.

Important Warning

If you friend, spouse or partner is a fluent Spanish speaker, I need to warn you now! Although they will want to help you along with your Spanish, it's very important they don't. You see, 99% of the Spanish lessons and courses are specific and teach the basics you need to know, so that in the future you have better comprehension even if you don't understand all the words a person has said to you. When your partner intervenes and tells you "no we don't say it like that, say it this way" they push you off course a bit and the farther you go in the harder things will become. So if you are studying a 3 month course, finish the course completely before having assistance. I really can't pound this harder home to you. Do not let them set you off course!

I want you to succeed and not struggle as I did. Perhaps you may wish to attend school to take a Spanish lesson. Plans are key and probably the most important part. Without them, your long term success will be short lived.