If you want to acquaint your children with the basics of a foreign language in a fun and non-intimidating way, consider joining Señor Dale Gamache's friendly Spanish class. Begin with Level I of La Clase Divertida. This enthusiastic, if somewhat less than professional presentation includes 4 DVDs of 15 lessons in a small class setting, an audio CD for practice, a brief teachers manual (which includes objectives and materials list for each lesson, as well as extra Spanish words and phrases used by the teacher), two workbooks (one each for two students), and enough craft materials for two students. Additional student kits are available.
The introduction to the program is on the first DVD. It is quite lengthy, but resist the impulse to skip over it since it contains important instructions and background on how to use the program.
This program is designed for families to use together; parents watch the lessons with their children to help them participate in the songs and activities. Parents also supervise the craft and cooking projects. (Fried ice cream, anyone?)
Intended for families with children in grades K-6, the videos will probably have more appeal for those in the younger half of that range. Including older children in a group class should work fine, but if you are teaching only 5th-6th graders, they might consider this too juvenile.
Quite a bit of repetition is used, and the Spanish words are translated into English. Children must respond out loud as they watch the video lessons. Lessons cover the alphabet, numbers from 1-20, colors, days of the week, parts of the body, animals and family members as well as selected phrases such as, "What is your name", "Where is ___", etc. Along the way, children also hear other words and phrases and absorb information about the history and culture of Mexico through stories and crafts. The pagan gods and cultures of Mexico are discussed, but the program, while not overtly Christian, comes from a Christian point of view. Workbook lessons reinforce what was presented on the video and give practice in writing Spanish. Use one DVD lesson each week, or take the lessons at a slower pace. Watching the same lesson multiple times and using the CD at home or on car trips will give your children the practice they need to be successful. The entire course should take about four months to complete.
From there you can continue with Level II and III of La Clase Divertida! Level II stretches up to seventh grade level, and Level III might be used up through eighth grade.
Señor Dale Gamache also offers live online High School Español classes for levels 1, 2, and 3. Students can earn one high school credit per level. Students interact with each other as well as with the teacher meeting online twice a week. They also use the Vistas curriculum which is purchased separately. See the publisher's website for more details.