Rachel Hawkes

Parents into Spanish

Learning can be fun (for adults too)!

Every year September sees the ‘Sounds of Spanish’ event for parents of new Year 7 students. The main aim is to give parents the confidence to help their children learn by testing them on their new words each week.  Most of us (and they) learnt French or German at school and Spanish was not so widely taught with the result that Spanish pronunciation can seem very unfamiliar to them at first.   Actually it’s such a straightforward language phonetically that it is possible to learn the sounds of Spanish in less than one hour, building on this knowledge to be able to pronounce accurately most new Spanish words that one encounters.  arana

We have run this event for 3 years now and this year we attracted more than 90 parents to the event.  First, I take the opportunity to share the year 7 finalists’ performances from the recent Spanglovision competition as an introduction to the importance of memory and pronunciation, which are two of the main language skills that we focus on during the first term of year 7. Then we go on to learn how to pronounce Spanish, using a multi-layered approach to memory building that combines pictures, sounds and gestures (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means) to fix the key sounds. (Phonics lesson 1 essentially!)   I also take the opportunity to share some insights into memory and learning styles that can really empower and inspire parents to be actively involved in their child’s language learning. This is one parent's account of the evening. It may be the complimentary glass of wine but the consensus seems to be that learning languages can be fun!

For anyone keen to try this out, the following may be useful: Flyer; PowerPoint presentation; Parents Booklet; Booklet for parents on Memory and Learning Styles.

Kathy Collier, from Ryde High School in the Isle of Wight, adapted my Spanish version of the evening into French for Y7 parents.

This type of initiative has a whole school benefit too. It contributes in a very explicit and practical way to enhancing the home-school relationship, something which has been very much on the agenda for secondary schools in the last few years. Positioned in September of Y7, it is a very real opportunity for the languages department to play a crucial role in the 'transition' for parents from primary to the secondary school phase.