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homeschool Spanish curriculum

Scheduling and Flexibility with Sonrisas

One of the most frequent questions we get regarding the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum is, “how long are the lessons supposed to be and how long does it take to complete a lesson?” Best practice for using the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum indicates that teachers should adapt the structure of the Sonrisas lesson to fit their scheduling needs. Teachers can do this primarily in one of two ways: by dividing up the segments of the lessons and by varying the length of Circle Time. Both of these methods give teachers lots of flexibility with the scheduling of preschool and elementary Spanish classes.

Divide the Segments of the Lesson to Fit Your Scheduling Needs

From experience, we know that the sweet spot in length and frequency for the Sonrisas lesson is a class that is 45 minutes to an hour long, two to three times per week. With this schedule young learners stay engaged and receive an effective amount of time immersed in the target language. With this type of schedule, lessons are completed in 1 to 3 classes.

The reality is that many teachers have classes that are shorter—anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Class frequency varies greatly—from the very common once per week to everyday instruction. One of the strengths of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum is the consistent structure of Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time. We have previously written about the benefit to young learners of establishing a consistent routine and structure for your Spanish class. Another benefit is that teachers gain flexibility by being able to divide up these segments to fit different class schedules.

In a 20 or 30 minute class, it will be very difficult to implement all three segments of the lesson. Instead, we recommend dividing the segments, doing them individually so that each segment maximizes student learning. It is important to note that by design, for each lesson, the lesson activity (in Circle Time) and the story (in Story Time) each repeat. This gives students valuable repetition with the vocabulary and phrases for the lesson. Also worthy of noting is that it is always a good idea to start each lesson with Circle Time, even if it is short. This warms students up and activates their comprehension and speaking skills. So, for a shorter class, for any given lesson, dividing up the segments could look like this:

  • In the first class do Circle Time and Story Time.
  • In the next class repeat Circle Time and Story Time.
  • In the next class do a short Circle Time and then do Art Time.
  • In a final class do a short Circle Time and then do the student portfolio activity.

Alternatively, for a shorter class, dividing up the segments could look like this:

  • In the first class do only Circle Time (see below).
  • In the next class do Circle Time and Story Time.
  • In the next class do a short Circle Time and then do Art Time.
  • In the next class do Circle Time and Story Time.
  • In a final class do a short Circle Time and then do the student portfolio activity.

Ideally, each teacher will find her own rhythm with the different segments of the lesson, and then it will become clear as to how to divide them up as needed.

Adjust the Length of Circle Time to Fit Scheduling Needs

Every Circle Time includes review of songs and lesson activities from previous lessons. What this means is that as you move through the lessons, the length of Circle Time increases. As your repertoire of activities grows, this gives you lots of flexibility to adjust the length of Circle Time. You can continue to do specific activities until you observe that your students have proficiency with the concepts that are covered. Then you can drop those activities as you continue to add others.

You can always spiral previous activities into Circle Time whenever you want to or feel your students need to revisit them. By picking and choosing different activities to do in Circle Time, you can vary the length of Circle Time—it could be anywhere from five minutes long to 45 minutes long—and you can use this flexibility to meet your scheduling needs.

There is no magic formula for how long each Sonrisas lesson should be or for how long it takes to complete each lesson. We recommend that teachers do not think so much about getting through all of the lessons in any given level, but rather that they think about teaching each lesson to its fullest. If this takes two classes, that’s fine. If this takes five classes, that’s fine too. The focus should be on providing a consistent immersion experience with lots of opportunity for meaningful interpersonal communication. This is how the magic of acquisition happens.

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