Many teachers are always on the lookout for authentic learning resources for their classroom. Baby books in Spanish are a fantastic way of introducing or reiterating grammar concepts and vocabulary since repetition is a predominant characteristic of baby books, in general. Since knowledge may be learned through repetition, baby books make a great resource, no matter the language, to actually learn the language.
For a younger audience, or a more beginner level classroom, it would be beneficial to use baby books that they already know. It will allow the students to focus less on what is happening in the book, and more with which words are used and how. Don’t be afraid to use a single book repeatedly for a few weeks, or throughout an entire unit. Again, repetition will give the students ease and confidence in understanding the book itself. Just by reading the book out loud, the students will develop pronunciation skills. Additionally, you will be able to pick out certain fragments, which contain your key grammatical concepts. From these fragments, have students find similar fragments in the text. Just being able to identify the similarities mean that the students will be able to create their own ideas using this grammatical concept by copying how it is used in a text.
If you teach a higher novice or an intermediate course, use the baby books in Spanish as a cultural resource. You can always use it as a grammar tool, but with a higher-level learning student, use it to teach how other cultures view the environment or holidays. Baby books usually have a similar set of topics no matter the country, so use these to your advantage. Create a writing assignment based off of the main character in the baby book, or off of the plot. What would the student do in that situation, or how would they feel? Have the student create a personal connection with the book. Again, don’t be afraid to read, use, and reference the book multiple times throughout your unit. It is doable to create a cultural and grammatical use out of one book.
For the more advanced students, upon finishing a grammar unit, create a list of ways a topic could be used. For example, you just finished reviewing how the preterite is different than the imperfect. Give the students a list of things like: verb in the preterite showing a completed action, verb in the imperfect giving background information, querer in the preterite and imperfect. Once the student has found an example in an authentic resource (i.e. the baby book in Spanish), they must explain what is the reasoning behind it. Why did the author use querer in the preterite instead of the imperfect? Why does preterite indicate a completed action? Have the students create their own reasoning.
These are just a few ways of using baby books in Spanish as a resource in the classroom. Do you have any other ideas? Do you think baby books are useful in the language-learning classroom?
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