Spanish in Small Doses Proves Effective at Christian School

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While many schools have a difficult time fitting foreign languages into already tight budgets and schedules, a teacher at Cornerstone Christian School in Chicago Heights, Ill., finds that even a half hour a week can set kids up for success in learning Spanish.

Prevailing wisdom says that learning a foreign language requires a significant time commitment, with classes at least a few times each week. ( But at many elementary schools, tight budgets, full schedules and standardized tests often push second language classes down on the priority list.

Yet teacher Stefany Molina has discovered that although class time is limited to a half hour each week, she has a hit on her hands with the Spanish program at Cornerstone Christian School. That thirty minute window has proven enough to create excitement among students, praise from parents and a strong foundation for future success in Spanish studies.

"Former students come back and say things like, 'Stefany, I'm in honors Spanish and I have the highest grade in the class,'" Molina said. "They're testing into Spanish two, three and honors. One of my former students is so advanced that they don't have a Spanish level for her."

According to Molina, one of the biggest reasons for the success of the Spanish program is that it is fun and interactive. She believes that when students are enthusiastic about the work, the learning experience becomes much more effective. At this suburban Chicago school, that enthusiasm has spilled out of the classroom and into the community.

"The students can't wait for Spanish class each week. They use it in the hallway and with their parents, and the parents tell me that their kids use it in stores," Molina noted. "Once they get excited about it, they just run with it."

Choosing the Right Curriculum
When choosing a Spanish curriculum, Molina set out to find a system that had both the educational content that she wanted without conflicting with the values of a Christian school. Additionally, the curriculum had to present the material in an inviting way that would engage students from the start.

"I had another curriculum that was too grammar-focused, and the students got overwhelmed and discouraged," Molina recalled. "But Sube is so fun and interactive, between the singing, games and videos, the students just love it. It works, and it fits with our values."

Sube is a complete multisensory curriculum that teaches children Spanish through art, music and games. Teachers use it to create a fun, engaging learning environment without compromising academic goals. Sube is in use in hundreds of schools nationwide.

A Bite-Sized Approach to Teaching Kids Spanish
When launching the school's revamped Spanish program, Molina started all students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, with Sube's beginner curriculum. She led each class through the program sequentially for three years, and had sufficient materials for thirty minute per week classes. Each year she went deeper into the curriculum to develop higher levels of learning.

"I found that the students were able to do more and say more in each successive year," said Molina. "Reviewing the material each year also allowed us to explore different themes and projects in the book. I added my own flare to it, and we talked more about the culture and music in years two and three."

Molina also used Sube to address students' different learning levels. Studies show that children have varying styles of learning. Sube's multisensory curriculum is specifically designed to ensure that the needs of every student are met.

"Students learn at different speeds, and Sube allows different levels of learning. I can use the same curriculum to teach those different levels, and all students are learning and staying involved."

A Popular Choice among Faith-Based Schools
Faith-based schools find that the Sube curriculum fits well with both their academic goals and their values. Such schools account for 30 percent of Sube users.

"With Sube we didn't have to compromise. It's the only program that had the educational content we wanted kids to have at a young age, and we don't have to worry about conflicting with our values."

After three years of success with the beginner program, Cornerstone Christian School will soon begin using the Sube's intermediate curriculum to advance student learning.

"What Sube has developed is everything I ever wanted the kids to learn," said Molina.

About Sube, Inc.
Based in Taos, N.M., Sube Inc. was founded in 1996 by Agnes Chavez to create innovative and effective ways to teach language and cultural diversity in schools, communities and homes. The name Sube, which means "to go up" in Spanish, is a reflection of her desire to elevate children's knowledge to prepare them for future success.

Today, the company produces a line of multimedia products that empower teachers and parents to teach Spanish or English as a second language by incorporating research-based teaching methods into art, music and games. The company's vision is predicated on the belief that learning more than one language gives children a global awareness crucial to their success in the world today.


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Agnes Chavez
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