One of the things I enjoy most about writing Spanish Playground is the opportunity to stay on top of what’s new in language education. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Voces Digital web-based Spanish curricula. After checking out the materials, I understand why teachers are excited.
Voces offers two complete digital curricula for Spanish. They have a CI series, and they also have a themed vocabulary and grammar-based approach. For those of you teaching more than one language, Voces also has curricula for French and ESL.
Be sure to take a look at our articles on other Spanish curricula including programs for elementary and a new AP curriculum.
How We Got Here
I’ve been teaching Spanish for 34 years, so I’ve seen huge shifts in methodology and technology.
I bought into the power of digital learning early. In the early 1990s, I was using BBSs so my students could chat with students in Mexican universities. When YouTube launched in 2005, I began to teach with authentic video. From the beginning, there was never any doubt in my mind that the future of language curricula was digital.
Of course, it has taken time for complete digital curricula to become a reality. For years, I compiled authentic video and audio, used different learning management systems, and supplemented static print texts with online images, language and culture.
Now, Voces Digital is delivering what I knew was possible. They are using what we know about language acquisition to shape the future of content and access to language learning materials.
Voces Becomes Voces Digital
I remember the Voces textbook of the early 2000s as a print text with a focus on authentic culture, so I reached out to Voces Digital to learn how the digital curricula came to be.
I learned that Skip McWilliams, the founder of Teacher’s Discovery, understood that by going digital, the potential for quality content increased exponentially. That aligned with his commitment to authentic culture, and Voces Digital was born.
Rich digital content is also a natural fit for exposing students to as much comprehensible input as possible. When I asked about the development of the Comprehensible Input series, Erin Almeranti, Curriculum Developer for Voces Digital explained “We committed to Comprehensible Input by reaching out to teachers who use CI, attending workshops and presentations on CI, and reading materials and talking with educators about CI. Then, and only then, did we begin to build what is now levels 1-4 and AP of Nuestra historia.”
Highlights of Voces Digital
I’ve spent time getting to know the Voces Digital materials, and I like what I see. There is a lot to explore, so I encourage you to sign up for a free trial: Spanish Digital Curricula Voces Digital.
CI Curriculum or Traditional Approach
Schools have different approaches and needs, and I like that Voces Digital has curricula that easily mesh with existing programs. Both the CI and traditional vocabulary-grammar focus have culturally rich content and incorporate communicative strategies.
Many curricula have digital components, but the integration that stems from the premise of no print text book changes everything. Audio, video, and games are integral to the content, not ancillary materials. The result is an integrated, dynamic learning experience.
Voces Digital Cultural Content
No longer limited to a few color photos in a print text, the curricula have rich culture components. Through photos, video and readings, students are exposed to a range of up-to-date cultural content.
Lots of Native Speaker Spanish
The native speaker audio and video is an easy win for all teachers. Students need to hear different voices, and that exposure is part of the Voces curricula. We should track how listening comprehension and pronunciation improve with these curricula, because they will.
We all customize all the time, right? But with a traditional curriculum, there is no way to integrate your material into the program.
With Voces you can edit or make your own pages, and incorporate your material into the whole. That means no more searching files in Google drive or extra copies stuffed in file folders. And no more lost time looking for what we know we made!
Also, because the curricula are customizable, it’s easy to differentiate and reach students where they are. Again, that differentiation can be integrated into the whole for more coherent, consistent learning.
I’ve been teaching a long time, so I know what I want in a curriculum. These are my big asks and how Voces Digital comes through.
- Give me engaging content presented in a way that supports comprehension rather than sabotaging comprehensible input. I’m willing to work hard, but give me design that facilitates the art of teaching.
Voces does this, with the CI series being especially strong.
- Give me quality cultural content so I can stop scouring the internet on weekends.
Voces integrates a rich variety of cultural content into the curriculum.
- Give me intriguing, lively content so I don’t have to add all the fun and interest. I have a lot of energy, but engaging content is a big help.
Audio, video, stories and games make Voces a dynamic program that holds student interest.
- Align the content with the ACTFL World Readiness Standards, so students know where they are and where they are headed in their language journey.
Every Voces title is aligned with ACTFL and state standards.
- Make it digital and give me the tech support I need. Free me from a print textbook.
Voces is completely web-based. Of course you can print what you need, but you can be selective.
If you’re like me, you like looking at Spanish learning materials. I get new ideas seeing what programs choose to include and how material is presented. Regardless of what curriculum you’re teaching right now, I encourage you to sign up for a free trial and browse Voces Digital. There is a lot worth seeing and trying!