Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences: language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves.
Each person is strong in some of these areas and weaker in others. While traditional classroom instruction only engages one of two of these intelligences, Risas y Sonrisas works hard to engage each student’s unique form of intelligence. Recognizing different types of intelligence brings out the best in students and helps them discover their passions, talents, and gifts.
Risas y Sonrisas has developed the following resources for teachers and homeschool parents to incorporate multiple intelligences when teaching Spanish to children:
All Risas y Sonrisas materials are designed with the different learning styles in mind. Our fun, colorful picture cards and dominos, full-size classroom posters, and animated videos appeal to visual learners while the original songs, out-loud practice, and emphasis on pronunciation engage auditory learners. Our fly swatter game, ball toss game, and love of dancing keep kinesthetic learners activated and paying attention. With our whole toolkit at your disposal, you can reach your students in the way best suited to them!
I have been teaching Spanish as a volunteer for seven years in public schools and one year in a school for dyslexic students using ‘Risas y Sonrisas’. I have seen Kindergartners embrace Spanish classes with open arms and sparkling eyes using the ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ songs, posters, and accompanying games. I have seen First Graders giggling and dancing and learning Spanish effortlessly through ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ multi-sensory lesson plans and materials. The curriculum builds on itself over time, and my students, from Kindergarten to Fourth Grade have grown in mastery with it over the years. The curriculum is designed to prevent the boredom and burn-out that many other Spanish curriculums have been known to foster. ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ leaves the students wanting to take more and more Spanish.
Currently I am using ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ curriculum to teach oral Spanish to dyslexic Fourth Graders. Dyslexic children have been told they cannot learn a foreign language, which I believe is far from true. ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ is a very flexible curriculum and can be modified to suit the educational needs of varying levels of student capability. Avoiding reading and writing, focusing on conversational Spanish, combining ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ curriculum’s posters, games, songs, and lesson plan suggestions, delivered with multi-sensory Total Physical Response techniques has led dyslexic students to overcome their ‘inability’ to learn a foreign language. I have also shown some of the ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ posters to adults to clarify their misunderstandings of Spanish classes they are undertaking at Jr. Colleges. They were thankful for the ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ visual aids. ‘Risas y Sonrisas’ curriculum is a tried-and-true teaching tool. I am very pleased with it.
Leander ISD, TX
The brain based learning theory explores the importance of combining the functions of different areas of the brain to learn more efficiently. According to this theory, each side of the brain plays key roles in the learning process:
Risas y Sonrisas includes various elements that directly engage the different areas of the brain. Some activities and games incorporate associations, colorful images, creativity, imagination, art, music, movement, role playing, and emotion, while others are based on verbal explanations, reading, or logical methods. We encourage students to use their whole brain, which makes learning Spanish more effective and more fun!
Risas y Sonrisas includes the use of American Sign Language in order to add another level of engagement with the vocabulary learned in the program. As they sign with their hands, watch others sign, and hear the word spoken aloud, students process linguistic information in three simultaneous sensory learning styles.
Users of ASL have shown ability to process visual mental images differently than hearing users of English. Though English speakers possess the skills needed to process visual imagery, ASL users demonstrate faster processing ability—suggesting that sign language enhances certain processing functions of the human brain.
National Institutes of Health, American Sign Language Last Editorial Review: 6/7/2010
The use of ASL in our program is also an example of the Total Physical Response (TPR) method, invented by Dr. James J. Asher. TPR involves connecting language to physical actions by encouraging students to respond with their body to verbal cues. This connection activates students’ natural language-learning ability and helps students internalize the meaning and use of words and phrases.