I have had a few email exchanges recently with readers of Spanish Playground who are learning Spanish with their children. Considering how hard it is to fit studying a language into a family schedule, I shared a few of the websites that I have found helpful in teaching adults over the years. These are sites that I have gone to for activities and have recommended to my students. Although they are not directly related to teaching Spanish to children, I think other readers may find them helpful too. These sites have material at all levels and are appropriate for independent learners, including high school students.
All of these websites have an enormous amount of information. I suggest that you take time to explore what is there and return to see what is new.
This is an amazing resource. Among many other materials, you will find a complete 12-week course for beginners; activities with film, supported by print transcripts, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation activities; news articles with audio and quizzes for intermediate learners; weekly email tips for learning Spanish.
Spanish Proficiency Exercises from the University of Texas at Austin
The material on this website consists of native-speaker video demonstrating language tasks at different levels. The levels are indicated on the top tool bar and there are drop-down menus of topics at each level. The introduction gives a clear explanation of how to use the material and the various components which include transcripts, translations, vocabulary notes, grammar notes and a podcast.
UT-Austin also makes available the Spanish Video Index from their Media Center. Click on video at the top right and the genres are listed below the video window. When you choose a video you can click on transcript on the right. There are also lesson plans available for each video.
Zachary Jones wrote a blog called Actualidades which moved in January of this year and became Zambombazo. The material on Actualidades is staying online (thanks Zachary!). These sites have lots of activities with music and video and news items. Both are geared to Spanish teachers, but useful to students with initiative. They focus on using authentic language materials in the Spanish language classroom. Again, spend time exploring. There is a great deal of content with many activities.
WordReference.com is an online dictionary. It is a resource that takes a little practice to use well. The dictionary is useful, but the remarkable value of the site is in the quality of the forum discussions. Below the entries are lists of discussions using a term or a phrase. These are links that take you to detailed exchanges about Spanish language in a specific context. The discussions are very well-moderated and, for the most part, the users are smart, focused and clear. Many are professional translators and interpreters. You can find out how to say almost anything, although to do an effective, fast search takes practice. Perhaps more useful to upper-level students at first glance, WordReference.com is worth learning to use for students at any level. Be careful – if you love language, you can spend a lot of time reading threads about shades of meaning and vocabulary differences in different countries.
Spanish Language and Culture
Doing grammar exercises is not an efficient way to learn a language. That said, many adult learners appreciate the opportunity to practice verb conjugations and focus on specific grammar points. If you feel that would be helpful to you, you should check out Spanish Language and Culture with Barbara Kuczun Nelson. Formerly Spanish Grammar Exercises, the site has a huge number of self-correcting exercises and makes an effort to present grammar in context in many of the activities.