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Develop Learner’s Spanish with Sonrisas

In our last post we discussed how Sonrisas Level I provides students with the opportunity to acquire Spanish by providing lots of opportunity for natural communication. This is the “Acquire” in our Acquire, Develop, Learn® methodology that guides how the different levels in the Sonrisas Spanish elementary curriculum work together. In Sonrisas Level II, we develop the Spanish learners have acquired by adding thematic units, more complex language, Partner Time, and more independent reading and writing. The approach in Level II allows students to develop, or grow, their Spanish acquisition and demonstrates the Input Hypothesis of linguistic expert Dr. Stephen Krashen.

Krashen’s Input Hypothesis says that acquisition takes place when the learner improves and progresses along the “natural order” by receiving second language input that is one step beyond his or her current stage of linguistic competence. For example, if a learner is at a stage “i”, then acquisition takes place when he or she is exposed to comprehensible input (CI) that belongs to the level “i + 1”. In Sonrisas Level II we see the Input Hypothesis at work in many ways:

  • Thematic units give focus and continuity to lessons which in turn increases CI.
  • More complex language and a Partner Time segment in the lessons insure that students are getting “i + 1” input throughout instruction.
  • Partner Time also engages learners in the three modes of communication—interpretive, interpersonal and presentation. Partner Time challenges students comprehension and speaking skills.
  • More independent reading and writing push students to “i + 1” as they practice concepts from the lessons.

It must be remembered that Krashen rejects formal grammar instruction when language acquisition is the goal. There is no grammar instruction in Sonrisas Levels I and II, but students gain lots of inherent understanding of grammar through their natural communication during the activities in the lessons. It is not until Sonrisas Level III, when it is developmentally appropriate, that students begin to learn the how and why of Spanish. More on this in the next post.

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