Sing and Speak Spanish: A Virtual Learning Experience
Sing and Speak Spanish, a language program in San Diego, California, is an ideal way to learn Spanish in a virtual setting. As many schools and homeschool groups go virtual, learning via a computer is not new.
Many language programs use technology like apps, computers, and live sessions to teach Spanish. Sing and Speak Spanish includes a fun way to add music and learning into exciting ways to learn Spanish virtually.
I had a chance to chat with the director of Sing and Speak Spanish, Andres Abeyta, and learn more about their language program.
Sing and Speak Spanish Interview
How did Sing and Speak Spanish started? What is the concept of singing while learning Spanish? Who established the program and why?
We founded Sing and Speak Spanish 23 years ago after seeing a huge Spanish education gap for elementary-aged children. Most of us grew up in a U. S. education system that didn’t value bilingual education.
So we’d see our first elective Spanish class in middle school and a year of mandatory language in high school. The majority of us could get a passing grade by completing textbook exercises.
But at the same time, very few of us could hold a conversation after finishing a Spanish class. More importantly, we love the idea of being bilingual and going further.
Common knowledge is that most other countries produce polyglots because they emphasize second language learning at an early age. This educational approach is the model we wanted to follow to inspire young kids to love the idea of learning a second language.
Tell us more about your language program. What is the best grade level or age range for the program? Are classes or sessions based on age?
We have a curriculum that spans Levels 1-7. Each level can be completed in a full academic year when offered 1-hr per week after school.
We offer it to K-8th grades as either after school enrichment or part of the in-school curriculum. Children may enter Spanish classes at different times, so they sign up at a particular level, which always has different ages.
We often replace programs that are more like a come-one and come-all club activity with an 8-week program. Our program is typically longer term so that students have a much better chance to retain and build their vocabulary.
And with a multi-level program, it protects the parent investment because there is a pathway to progress to a higher level. Can you compare it to a college degree?
What parents say, ‘I just want to pay for a college that offers one year of school’. I suspect that that one year of elementary Spanish or one year of college isn’t the achievement that parents want to see.
Puppets as a Learning Tool
Puppets are a big part of your program. Do you create your puppets and who brings them life? What’s the concept behind your puppets for learning?
There’s a funny thing about puppets. They draw everyone in because they can be silly, ridiculous, and emotional.
And if they speak Spanish, then their words are more memorable. We train our teachers to use puppets to be part of a story and have conversations with them.
A family of six puppets functions as instrumental learning tools for our teachers. Hence, the teachers use them in all of our Spanish levels.
For instance, Sesame Street is the proven pioneer of remarkable puppetry. No one can forget Count Dracula counting to 10. Similarly, we create lasting Spanish vocabulary memories.
When we trigger a person’s emotions, there is a higher chance of information sticking to their long term memory. Spanish humor is our secret teaching tool!
Virtual Spanish Learning Program
What is the criteria for teachers or educators in your program to instruct Spanish? What type of certification, licensure, or study do they need to teach at Sing and Speak Spanish?
In terms of teaching Spanish to kids, we have the best team in the business. They are not casual bilingual tutors.
The primary quality we hire is the ability to get kids to have fun learning. Secondly, they are highly trained professionals with the love of teaching their native Spanish language.
Half of our teachers have been teaching our program for over ten years, which shows you their dedication. We teach at many school districts and parochial schools that have different requirements.
Furthermore, teachers have Livescan background checks through the Department of Justice. And many have additional kids’ safety and CPR training.
How can people in California, the United States, or around the world get more information about Sing and Speak Spanish?
We’ve built our website to see how our Spanish program for kids works quickly. It shows the content within our different curriculum levels.
And we have videos of how our Spanish teachers deliver a class. We make live Spanish learning more accessible to everyone by offering onsite classes at schools, online Spanish courses, private Spanish lessons, and Pod Spanish classes.
You can also purchase just the learning materials as a popular option with many schools. The Spanish curriculum (student workbooks, teacher guides, and music) are sold nationwide to teachers, schools, and homeschoolers.
About Director Abeyta of Sing and Speak Spanish:
Our Director, Andres Abeyta, has been a national leader in innovative education. He has an M.A. in Education and has taught elementary school, mid-school, high school, and adults.
Andres is most proud of his involvement in the EdTech sector in trying to find solutions to education problems to make education more accessible and more practical to audiences everywhere. He brings the newest advances in technology to manage their program.
The program includes individual Spanish lessons for schools online and Spanish for homeschoolers. He also offers tools to teachers with a mobile app for parents’ attendance and real-time communications.