The title, Learn Spanish with Grace!, highlights two key elements of this program since "Grace" has two meanings in this context. Grace refers to Catholic formation and spiritual development that are major themes throughout this program, and Grace is also the name of one of the Gallaher children who present the course along with their mother. Thus, children are learning along with Grace and through God's grace.
The program was field-tested by homeschooled children ages 5-14. A parent/teacher can use it with a group class, but it is even better suited to families who incorporate their learning into daily activities such as praying, eating breakfast, and getting dressed.
Multi-sensory activities allow children of different ages and abilities to participate each at their level. Older children can read and write in the textbook. Younger children can participate in the conversations, learn the songs and look at the colorful picture books.
This is very much a conversational approach to learning rather than grammatical. That doesn't mean there is no grammar, but the presentation does not follow a progression of grammatical concepts from simple to more difficult. For example, challenging reflexive verb forms are used in the first lesson. The words and their translations are presented without grammatical explanation. Translations are sometimes loose, reflecting general meaning rather word-for-word. This is true with some of the reflexive forms and elsewhere. For example, when children learn the Prayer before meals, the English and Spanish translations are presented side by side as if they are exact translations. However, the last half of the prayer in English is, "…from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen." The Spanish reads, "Dios Omnipotente, que vives y reinas, por los siglos de los siglos. Amén." which actually translates, "Almighty God that lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen." This is not a problem as long as you are aware of it.
The program is designed so that children are learning Spanish they can actually use from the very beginning. Lessons follow a progression that reflects common activities as they occur through the day. Thus, they start by learning to say good morning as well as how to talk about breakfast and getting dressed. Then they learn to pray in Spanish. Lessons continue through school, play, lunch, helping around the house, greeting their father when he comes home, eating dinner, bathing, preparing for bed, and bedtime prayers.
The progression of the program is sometimes challenging. For example, in chapter four children are learning the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be in Spanish—a great deal of memorization compared to that in other chapters.
The author created Spanish songs for each lesson, and these are sung by her and her children on the companion CDs. The songs are useful, but take care with "La Canción de mi desayuno" (breakfast song) since the Spanish has to be pronounced far more rapidly than most children will be able to do if they want to sing along with the CD.
Three CDs are packaged with the book. On the CDs, in addition to the songs, Miriam and her children walk us through each lesson step-by-step so we hear all the pronunciations. This makes the program practical for those of us who know no Spanish at all. (Note that the author pronounces the written letter "ll" with the "j" sound although the "y" pronunciation is more common in many locales.)
The book itself is very nicely produced in full color. Pre-printed cardstock pages, inserted within each lesson, are to be pulled out of the book and used to construct very attractive booklets.
Supplemental components are also available although none are essential. Conversation Booklets with CDs is a packet of 56 colored pages (printed in black ink) that fold up to create more booklets for vocabulary practice and review. These correlate with lessons in the textbook. All the booklets are read by the author on the two CDs that come in the packet.
A Songbook with CD features just the songs with simple music notation. The CD is practical for listening in the car and other times when children can listen or sing along without parental assistance.
A set of Flashcards features pictures with English and Spanish on reverse sides for all the key words in each lesson. The set of 120 full-color flashcards comes with four double-sided game boards; together flashcards and boards offer 16 different games.
The Full Program includes all of these items packaged in a canvas bag.