Using Repetition in the Sonrisas Curriculum—Part 1

We have posted before on the importance of repetition in preschool and elementary Spanish, but the subject itself deserves repetition. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum.

Repetition in language learning is critical. Every Sonrisas lesson includes a communication objective with performance guidelines for achieving the objective. It’s not realistic to think that second-language learners are going to integrate the performance guidelines into their comprehension and language usage immediately after completing any given lesson. This is where repetition comes in. Annual repetition, as well as frequent, lesson-by-lesson repetition, must occur for students to achieve the communication objectives.

We strongly recommend that each level of the Sonrisas curriculum be taught for two years. Students’ level of language acquisition will increase profoundly with this annual repetition; further, teachers don’t have to repeat each lesson exactly with the same content. Most Sonrisas lessons include several book suggestions for Story Time, and there is usually more than one art project from which to choose, so teachers can teach the same theme while they vary the content of the lesson from one year to the next.

To illustrate the benefits of teaching each level for two years: In Sonrisas Level I, the lesson on Familia includes the following performance guidelines:

  • Students identify family members in Spanish.
  • Students comprehend the question, “¿Quién es?
  • Students answer the question using the phrase, “Es mi mamá/ papá/ hermano/ hermana/
    abuelo/ abuela/ tío/ tía/ primo/ prima
    .”

The first time students do this lesson, they may only demonstrate the first performance guideline, identifying family members in Spanish:  mamá, tío, abuelo, etc. The following year, when the Familia lesson is repeated, teachers have the opportunity to engage students’ prior knowledge of the subject matter, focusing on the second and third performance guidelines.

Annual repetition also increases language acquisition by helping students feel more comfortable, confident, and excited about the lessons because they are familiar with them. It puts their brains in a more receptive state for learning. When we’ve begun a familiar/repeated lesson, we’ve often heard our students exclaim, “Oh, I remember this! I love this lesson.”

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