Have you ever had your child come home with homework and say, "I don't know how to do this!"? Now imagine your child coming home with homework written in a different language and not knowing what to do! As a parent, I would feel helpless. I want to avoid frustrating my student and parents at all cost. Learning another language is hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun!
My philosophy on homework is very simple, sometimes it is very necessary to bring home things from school that we didn't finish in class and need to finish at home to stay on track. This shouldn't happen very often, but it could happen. Otherwise, we will not have typical daily homework. Instead, I place value on students practicing their skills. When students do have homework, it will entail completing tasks such as practicing their speaking skills with someone in their household, teaching a friend or another teacher how to introduce themselves in Spanish or maybe practicing the alphabet out loud and reciting it to a parent.
What can your child do then to be better prepared in Spanish? Here is a list of daily homework that students can pick from:
- Study for 15 minutes-Every night students should look through old vocabulary as well as new vocabulary. Students have been instructed that there is a huge difference between "homework" and STUDYING! If you want to learn another language you have to study a lot! Your brain needs time to process all of your new vocabulary and it will only store it on your "hard drive" with repetition and practice. Students should be saying their vocabulary out loud and should be practicing essential questions and responses for the sections we are working on as well as reviewing old information. Have you ever heard someone say, "I took French in high school and I don't remember a thing!"? (Yes, that's actually my personal statement.) That's because 20-25 years ago we threw to much information at students learning another language too quickly. Students couldn't possibly retain everything they learned and didn't have enough time practicing how to speak. The goal is to learn slowly over a long period of time. If you cram the night before a quiz, you will remember how to order dinner off a menu in Spanish but when you go to México over spring break you will have forgotten. The point is to retain all of your skills in Spanish and put them to good use for the rest of your life!
- Immerse yourself in Spanish- Listen to music in Spanish on the radio, Pandora or on Youtube. I hear students all the time comment on something they hear in class and they say, "wow, I really like the way that sounds, I didn't think I would like this, but I do!" With adult supervision, watch some TV in Spanish. Students often find the overdramatic telenovelas very funny to watch. Listen for cognates, vocabulary you recognize, look up words you find interesting, try to figure out the overall message of what your watching or listening. We practice this skill in class, it is called the Interpretive Mode.
- Read Spanish Everywhere- Challenge yourself to read everything you see in Spanish. Commercials on TV, signs at the grocery store like the names of the produce. Pay attention to how things are written, look for cognates, try to pronounce the words out loud and look up words that you don't understand or look interesting. We practice this skill in class with reading and listening. It is called the Interpretive Mode of communication.
- Speak Spanish Everywhere- Students and parents often ask, "How can I learn to speak more Spanish?" Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Do babies fear making mistakes when they begin to learn to talk? No! They babble away, at first nonsense and then slowly it starts to make sense! My students who progress quickly in speaking are the ones who are less inhibited. They put themselves out there, they say things incorrectly, they use English here or there and add words in Spanish until eventually one day they are speaking 100% in Spanish. Take a risk, order your food in Spanish at the restaurant, speak in Spanish to someone you know is a native speaker. Talk in the hallways in Spanish with your friends and teachers. At the very least walk through your day with a smile on your face and say hello to someone in Spanish everyday :)
Use these homework assignments to connect yourself to the Spanish speaking world you live in.
Homework Expectation--Have some Ganas!: I tell my students and my own children this often, "In Spanish there is a word, 'ganas'. I find it to be a very strong word. One that doesn't translate directly. It means to have a strong will, desire to work for it. When doing anything in life, you have to have ganas! I can't want it for you. You have to want it for yourself. There is no way for me to know if you are doing your studying every night, practicing your skills in the real world, falsifying practice task lists that require, student, teacher, parent friend signatures. However, you will do it if you WANT to learn Spanish. You will do it because you WANT to learn Spanish and of course you will do it because you WANT to earn the grade you desire. So study Spanish, at least 15 minutes every night and practice any opportunity you get!
Feel free to email me with the access code to my Google Slides that I use on a daily bases with the kids to conduct class. You will be able to put the slide presentation in Present mode and be able to click on live links of resources we used in class that day, handouts, see "I can statements" and recommendations for what you should be studying for the week.