We Are the Elementary Spanish ExpertsBrooks
When you are considering curriculum for your elementary Spanish program, you need an expert. Most curriculum companies use multiple departments when they produce curriculum. The people who create the curriculum may be really good at marketing or have tech experience or have tons of writing experience, but they may not have any real experience with elementary Spanish. At Sonrisas Spanish, we have lived and breathed elementary Spanish for over 25 years. We are the elementary Spanish experts.
The founders and co-authors of Sonrisas Spanish, Blue and Brooks Lindner, began teaching Spanish to children in 1996 in Austin, TX. Blue and Brooks were certified bilingual and ESL teachers, and they brought that experience to their Spanish classes. This was the time of FLEX and FLES programs, and Blue and Brooks capitalized on the enthusiasm for world language instruction to build a robust business teaching Spanish to elementary students. Blue and Brooks continued to teach for 25 years—honing their methodologies and strategies.
The unique advantage of this teaching experience for users of the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum is that all of our lessons have been time-tested in the classroom. We know these lessons work because they have worked with our own classes in many different settings. We also know that our curriculum is presented in a way that is effective for teachers. In other words, it is easy to implement. As teachers, we were always frustrated by curriculum which included so many different components that it was easy to get bogged down and confused. As a result, we created a curriculum that is easy to follow, provides only the essentials that a teacher needs, and does not overwhelm.
Another advantage of the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum is that it utilizes sound pedagogy. We know from second language acquisition research that acquisition of language occurs when the learner has comprehensible input (CI) and the opportunity for meaningful interpersonal communication. This is at the core of the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum. The lessons create an immersion environment which incorporates CI and lots of communication. It does this using a variety of second language learning methodologies.
The Sonrisas lessons utilize TPR, the Natural Approach, the Waldorf approach, shared reading, and the theory of multiple intelligences. These are incorporated into different age-appropriate modalities such as singing, role-play, storytelling, art, and drama. Consistency of structure and repetition also play a big role in lesson formation. All of this ensures that young learners stay engaged during lessons and that the right environment for acquisition is achieved.
We also created our trademarked Acquire, Develop, Learn methodology to provide a developmentally appropriate sequence for elementary Spanish. In Sonrisas Level I, students acquire Spanish, much as they would their first language, through age-appropriate activities and lots of interpersonal communication. In Sonrisas Level II, we develop that acquired language by adding more complex language structures to the lessons and by adding a partner time segment. Finally, in Sonrisas Level III, students learn the how and why of Spanish, with explicit grammar instruction, as they continue to grow their comprehension and speaking skills.
Sharing Expertise Through Training
As our teaching experience and our company grew, we began incorporating more training into what we do. Brooks Lindner’s expertise in elementary language learning made him a frequent presenter at state and regional language conferences such as ACTFL, SCOLT, SWCOLT, and NECTFL. Over time, we also developed an efficient and effective training for teachers who are use the Sonrisas Spanish curriculum.
We now offer live webinar trainings each month. Teachers get live Q and A with Brooks Lindner, and the training insures effective implementation of the Sonrisas lessons. Topics include the Acquire, Develop, Learn methodology, teacher manual overview, best practices, the teaching environment, teaching a lesson from beginning to end, using student portfolios, and parent communication.
Training teachers regularly gives us incredible insight into the concerns and issues that teachers face. This enables us to adjust our approach and our curricular offerings to address these. Trainings also give us the opportunity to share our expertise with the teachers who are out there everyday, working hard to bring world language education to young learners.
We believe that elementary world language education in the United States is more important now than ever. It is our hope that it continues to grow and flourish. As it does, Sonrisas Spanish will always be here to help because we are the elementary Spanish experts.