My son Raisin has expressed an interest in learning Spanish. Although this interest comes and goes, I’ve decided to embrace his interest as much as I can. I studied Spanish extensively in college and spent a few months in South America, but in the past decade, I’m sorry to say I’ve let my Spanish usage and training lag. I am a long way from where I used to be. Language learning is not like learning to ride a bicycle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Enter: Play and Learn Spanish by Ana Lomba (McGraw Hill 2011), a audiobook/textbook combination providing a series of conversations full of vocabulary that children really use. My son and I loved the songs, and after listening to some of the conversations a few times, I find it much easier to incorporate Spanish in to my daily conversations with my children.
In the reviews of the program, there were some complaints about how it seems impossible to “learn Spanish” by using this product, so I feel it’s necessary to re-emphasize the author’s instructions for how it works. This is not a program that works by handing it to a child and saying “go for it.” This is a program for a parent to use if he or she is interested in providing a child with an immerse experience in a second language. In other words, the parent needs to learn Spanish along with the child as they listen to the dialogues together.
The accompanying book has the Spanish and English translations written for the parent (I do not believe the book is as helpful for the child, although the pages are bright and interesting, and my son always wanted to turn pages along with the CD). As the parent learns the phrases, he or she should then begin using said phrases in daily conversation with the child. I found the CD to be very successful in helping with pronunciation (reminders in my case, since I was at one point familiar with it). Ms Lomba speaks with an accent from Spain; my previous Spanish had been South American. After listening to the CD a few times, I found myself pronouncing the s‘s and z‘s as “th” as they do in Spain. It was interesting to me how, even with my previous training, listening to vocabulary repeatedly gave me a subtle change in my own pronunciation.Continue Reading