Susy Dorn is a native Spanish speaker from Peru that has created a fun, immersion approach to teaching Spanish to young children. From her website, "she is director and founder of “Juguemos en Espanol”. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from the Universidad Catolica de Lima-Peru. She is a musician, performer and puppeteer with fourteen years of experience working with children. She has recorded CDs and has created DVDs and books for children in Spanish."
I had the pleasure of speaking with Susy on the phone. Here is my interview:
How do you teach Spanish to young children?
We use puppets and music and a different theme each week to motivate the children to come to class every week and to be able to introduce the children to different things. Music and puppets are the biggest things we use in the class. Of course, we repeat a lot. Every week we have a different theme, transportation or colors, the house, you name it. There are a bunch of CD’s we have created. There are 20 songs in each CD and in each song there is a different theme that we teach every week. Then when they get home and they listen to the CD and the books, they get to review whatever they did in class.
Why do you use music and puppets primarily? Why are they effective?
When you learn something through music, you will always remember it. Even people with Alzheimers , they don’t remember much, but they can sing songs from when they were 2 or 3. If you learn something through music, it stays in your head forever . I remember in college I was horrible on tests and I had to remember a lot things, so I would just create a song. Puppets are huge. Where the adults don’t reach, the puppets will. Both are very effective techniques that teach children. I have been using them for a long time since I was in Peru. We have more than 3,000 puppets. Every week there is a different puppet on the puppet show. Their little faces light up every time. “Vamos a ver los titeres” and everybody runs to the puppet house and they can stay there for hours.
How do you use complete immersion?
It is very different because we have a lot of props, a huge amount of props for children. We don’t need to speak in English because they see everything that we say. We don’t really need to speak in English in the class. It works really great, we have been doing this for 10 years. Of course, the materials are huge because even if they are not taking the classes, the materials are a great way for children to learn at home with their parents. The classes are only offered here [in California Bay Area ] right now, but we have an idea to offer this to other people who want to teach it around the country but we don’t know how long it is going to take. However, the materials are right there for parents to buy and learn Spanish at home with their kids in a really fun way. That’s why we created the books, because the children can listen to the CD’s and they have a book of reference to understand what the words of the songs are. The songs are very simple and catchy. In the books, there are the illustrations of the words of the songs.
**Check out the current giveaway of CD and Book sets by Susy Dorn!