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High School Spanish Curriculum: What to Choose

Emma Cummings

Sadly, foreign languages are becoming an unpopular choice in high school. In state schools, language departments are in crisis, and many are looking at the prospect of closing – meaning entire high schools will be without any foreign language instruction!  Part of the reason behind this is the rise of apps like Google Translate, coupled with a general dislike for subjects which require a high degree of discipline. Languages are no longer a mandatory subject, therefore kids are choosing “easier” subjects. Conversely, apps like Duolingo are still highly popular, showing that there is still an appetite to learn other languages. Interestingly, this is being played out on a backdrop of renewed vision to maintain Britain’s minority native languages like Gaelic, Welsh, and even Cornish. These are important ideas to consider even when considering a high school Spanish curriculum.

image of paper saying Why choose Espanol High School Spanish Curriculum from Arise Home Education

Why Choose a High School Spanish Curriculum?

Therefore, how should we view the learning of languages? As believers, we recognise that the myriad of tongues came about by as a divine act to thwart the wicked schemes of man at the Tower of Babel. But when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, there was not a restoration of a single language to bring unity, but the believers were given the ability to speak other tongues. Therefore, the distinct languages of the world are something as believers we ought to honour.

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

As home educators, raising our children to have a Biblical world-view, and to be missional minded, we also should recognise the power of equipping our kids with another language. Being able to speak to someone in their native tongue is incredibly important. And despite the tremendous power of Google Translate (and similar tools), they cannot take the place of the honouring that takes place when we learn another’s language.

The church in the UK is also becoming increasingly multicultural. There are growing communities of believers from other nations, sadly us Brits are bad at expecting the world to learn English. By fostering a culture of learning another language, we inadvertently love people in our communities for whom English is a second language. At Arise Home Education, our Spanish tutor, Esther, is a native Spanish speak, and understands the challenge of learning a second language.

There is also the cognitive benefits of learning a language. Learning a second language is like a work-out for the brain. Studies have shown that people who are bilingual have more grey matter in the brain than those who are monolingual. Learning another language has also been linked to increased empathy and an increased ability to connect with other cultures. All languages have intrinsic cultural aspects to them, therefore in learning any language we learn the culture as well.

Which World Language Is The Best Choice?

However, with so many languages to choose from, which one do we choose? This for some families is an easy choice. If you have connections to another nation or a particular love of a country. A child often has a strong desire to learn a particular language. However, this is not always the case. For British and American home educators, the Spanish language is an excellent choice.

After Mandarine, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. There are 210 million Spanish speakers in South America! Throughout Latin America, there are many mission opportunities with which young people can work alongside. And many Spanish-speaking countries have a great need to hear the gospel. Sharing the gospel is more impactful if heard in a person’s heart language. Therefore, from a missional perspective, it is a good language to equip our kids to have. From a practical perspective, is an easier language to access. There are many Spanish courses, and it is easier to find a good Spanish curriculum, than many other languages. 

Furthermore, for English speakers, Spanish is frequently easier to pick up than languages which are not rooted in Latin. Latin is the parent language of the Romance Languages (Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese to name a few). Although English has influences from other languages, Latin has a strong influence. Many home educators choose to study Latin, and if that is the case, Spanish would be a natural second language to add into your schedule. 

Learning a New Language Is Fun

Beginning to learn a new language can be fun and exciting. However, many people fail because it is difficult to learn a new language.  Therefore, it can be helpful for homeschool educators to select a live Spanish classes or online classes which meet regularly. This brings a routine, and accountability. As parents if we are not fluent in the language ourselves the teaching of foreign languages can be challenging, and it is especially easy to make pronunciation mistakes. If is wonderful to be able to find an option with native Spanish speakers, this allows kids to hear good pronunciation.

Learning a language requires consistency and regular practise. It is important that it is prioritised through the school year, if you wish to succeed, teens will not see progress if they do not set aside regular time to practise and work on memorising vocabulary. Therefore, having lessons which also direct instruction, but also homework assignments through the week to build on new words, vocabulary lists, and eventually grammar concepts.

When first learning it is critical to focus on listening to the language, building a bank of vocabulary words and practising speaking; as your skills increase then grammar concepts can be added later. Learning can be enhanced by listening to native speakers regularly. If you have an online class, it is critical to have access to online videos, so that the content can be reviewed, and the Spanish listened to again. Spanish with Arise allows students to do just that! Online access to all class is provided, so students can always go back to listen later.

Meet the Tutor

Online High School Spanish Curriculum

Spanish lessons should also have interactive activities which allow students to practise their speaking and listening skills, as the best way to learn any language is by actually speaking! One of the unique features of Spanish 1 at Arise Home Education is the goal of having the students learn to share their faith in Spanish. High school students will also learn about the cultural differences of Spanish people throughout the world. Allowing the student to reflect on the diversity of Spanish, as a language and as a prism of cultures.

Tips to Help Learn Spanish (or Any Language)

  1. Listen to simple audio stories or the bible. Listening to familiar stories retold in Spanish, or familiar passages from the Bible, helps with learning the sounds of the language. As your vocabulary increases, so will the level of comprehension.
  2. Online quizzes. Sites like Quizlet allow you to create your own memory cards for vocabulary. Quizlet will then set you quizzes to test your knowledge.
  3. Read portions of scripture you are familiar with in Spanish.
  4. Do Bible memory verses in Spanish.
  5. It is good to have a friend or family member to practise talking with. To learn a new language, you need to practise speaking it! If you do not have someone to talk to, try speaking with a pet, or praying in Spanish.
  6. Set yourself realistic goals.
  7. Do a little every day. This ties in with setting goals. It is better to do 10 mins a day, that 2 hours once a fortnight!

Although language learning is hard, it is also hugely rewarding. Once you have learnt one language, then it is easier to learn a second. In a world of AI and Google Translate, the power of human interaction through a common language is as important as ever. The call is still to take to gospel to the nations. And with the learning of one language, more can be added. A linguistic education is also perfect for future bible translators. Those who have the cultural intelligence and empathy to go to people groups who have no scripture of their own, and can learn that language and the with care take up the sacred work of translation, are still of vital importance.  So although learning a new language is hard, it is a skill of huge importance to the Kingdom.

High School Spanish Curriculum & Course at Arise

The high school Spanish curriculum, included with the Arise Home Education course, is a beginner-level high school course. It allows students to gain confidence in social situations that correspond to a beginner level of Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation, which is typically found in a high school year 1 Spanish course.  Students will learn Spanish through reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  This will be done in live, online sessions as small groups or the entire class together.  

  • Learn and develop brief social exchanges.
  • Learn how to discuss practical issues of daily life.
  • learn how to narrate and describe personal experiences, including being able to share their faith with Spanish speakers, 
  • Learn how and when to use common courtesy formulas
  • Learn about the cultural differences of Spanish people throughout the world. allowing the student to reflect on the diversity of Spanish, as a language and as a prism of cultures.

Since this class is weekly, and live, with a native Spanish speaker, it allows students to work on their comprehension, and pronunciation skills. Furthermore, they will have the accountability that a live class brings, and a learning community to help them flourish. Spanish 1‘s tutor, Esther Meldrum, is a believer, who works alongside, her husband who pastors a church in Scotland. She has a heart to see young people walk with Christ and to be raised up to carry the Gospel to the nations.

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