Learn Spanish At Home With Calico Spanish

Young girl reading children's book with Spanish text.

Teach your kids Spanish at home with this easy immersion program for elementary students. Includes songs in Spanish, Spanish storybooks, complete lesson plans and everything you need to teach Spanish to your children even if you don’t speak the langauge at all.

We know that kids who learn a second language from an early age have a huge advantage over monolingual kids. We also know that many schools don’t offer Spanish classes at the elementary level, or offer very little Spanish that often ends up just being language exposure.

As the research on the importance of bilingualism becomes more and more convincing, so many parents ask me how they can teach their kids Spanish. I mostly get the question from parents who don’t speak a second language and wish they did, or who learned a bit of language in high school and college, didn’t keep up with it, and now wish they spoke more. 

Most of the parents who ask me about teaching their kids Spanish just want me to give them private classes- which can get expensive fast. Plus, I don’t really have the bandwidth to teach foreign language to kids anymore- I prefer to write these days.

What I do love is to refer parents to programs that really work, don’t cost a ton of money, and are engaging for kids.

Today I am going to review Calico Spanish- a program that I found that works great for parents and kids. I’ll talk about the language learning approach, what type of learner benefits most from the program,  and what comes with the program.

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Spanish Language Immersion Learning Approach

Calico Spanish uses a comprehensive immersion approach to learning the Spanish language. This means your child will learn to read, write, speak and listen to basic Spanish.

There are four levels to the program, each with 8 units and at least 10 daily lesson plans (20-30 minutes long).  Your kids will hear native Spanish speakers speak Spanish at a comprehensible level, and be asked to speak Spanish back to the videos.

The Calico Spanish immersion program is a step by step program that assumes parents and students know nothing about Spanish when they start. That means Level A starts with basic greetings and leavetakings. Students hear all of the words being pronounced and have ample opportunities to practice pronunciation.

The immersion experience includes opportunities to listen to Spanish and have conversations in Spanish. 

All of the resources created are original to the program and created by Spanish teachers, so the lessons build on one another in an authentic way and include lots of review.  

I especially love the vocabulary flashcards and workbooks that allow lots of time for review of new vocabulary and synthesis of information through reading and writing skills. The words and phrases included in the program are super helpful to helping kids become fluent in Spanish right at home.

Spanish Immersion At Home – Target Audience

Calico Spanish is a great program for all types of families who want their kids to learn Spanish. (Any family that wants to use the program is considered a “homeschool family” and eligible for discounted pricing). Calico Spanish is also great for schools. 

Parents Teaching At Home

This program is great for homeschool families because you literally do not need to do anything other than buy the program and start using it. The lesson plans are so easy to follow, and every online resource you need is easy to find and use. You can print unlimited copies of the materials too, so the price is great. 

I also love how the program takes an interdisciplinary approach- for example when we were working through Level D, my daughter was reviewing numbers by looking at a math worksheet that grouped raindrops by tens (just like she does at school.) 

Families Who Don’t Speak Any Spanish

So many parents want their kids to learn Spanish but don’t know where to start. And looking for a Spanish after school program where the kids go just once a week can be difficult and expensive. Calico makes it sooo easy to teach your kids Spanish without really knowing it. For example:

Heritage Language Families

So many parents have told me that their parents spoke Spanish but they never learned it. They have an understanding of Spanish but aren’t fluent and really wish their parents had taught them the language. It’s so sad- but it’s also just part of how our society used to feel about bilingualism.

Calico Spanish is a perfect plan for heritage families because it explicitly tells you how to teach each lesson, but there is enough fluency content to bring back great memories of Spanish for heritage parents. 

Traditional School Setting

Additionally, the program is available for schools and would be a great asset to schools who need elementary Spanish programs (each level is about a year of 20-minute lessons three times a week).

Even schools that don’t have Spanish speakers on staff could use this program and it would be super economical to have the classroom teacher go through the activities. I would bet after a year or two of the immersion program the teacher would even be speaking Spanish pretty well!

A Note For Native Speaking Families

We are a native speaking Spanish family that only speaks Spanish at home. Additionally, my kids have only gone to school in Spanish until this year. Spanish is my kid’s first language- and the program didn’t really work for them.

The model is to teach Spanish as a second language- and the girls already knew all the vocabulary and thought the people on the videos talked too slow. They weren’t super engaged in the program- but it’s not really made for them either. 

Looking for resources for your native speaking bilingual kids? 

What’s Included with Calico Spanish Immersion Program

When you purchase Calico Spanish, you will have full access to all four levels: A, B, C and D. You can teach from any level at any time. Which is awesome if you have kids who study Spanish at two different levels.

Levels A and B last about a year when you do three 20 minute lessons a week. Levels C and D are about a year and a half long. That’s a lot of Spanish!

When you enroll you have access to every digital material you need, as well as the pdfs of all the worksheets and flashcards so you can print from home.  Each year is broken down into units- each with an easy to follow printable unit guide. 

From there, each unit has daily lessons that are broken down into separate activities. There is a printable lesson plan and links to all of the interactive materials. You can print all the materials too, or you have the option to purchase the printed materials in high gloss.

The printed materials are pretty darn expensive (they are printed small batch in the USA), but most subscribers don’t purchase the print materials, they just print from home. Most of the workbook is even in black and white, so you aren’t color printing everything even.

The only thing not printable is the storybooks, which are digitally presented in a sort of “Reading Rainbow” format on the website. The first series is available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers, and the rest will be available soon. I think the digital storybooks are more than fine though, and my younger daughter thinks they are the most engaging thing in the world. She just keeps watching them.

The lesson plans are so thorough but what I most like is that they include cultural observations from all different Spanish speaking countries. For example, in Costa Rica, we use a different form of the pronoun “you” than in the rest of Latin America, and that difference was noted in one of our Level D lessons. This means parents can learn right alongside the kids, and everyone will be ready to use Spanish in the “real” world without making a huge mistake with native speakers.

Related article: 10 Awesome Reasons You Need To Visit Costa Rica This Year

The ease of lesson plans also means that kids can have lots of different teachers. Maybe you have a nanny or caregiver during the week that works with the kids on Spanish and mom and dad do a review session on the weekend. I highly recommend either printing or purchasing a printed copy of the lesson plans so you can review them in advance or make notes on what worked and what didn’t as you move through the lessons. 

The Bottom Line

If you want to teach your child Spanish, at home, with zero knowledge of the language, then the Calico Spanish program is for you. It’s comprehensive, fun, engaging and easy to follow. I highly recommend it- and there’s a free trial if you want to check it out before you purchase.

To learn more about Calico Spanish and to purchase the program, visit the appropriate site: 

Calico Spanish Homeschool 

Calico Spanish for Schools

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