Friday, May 10, 2013

Croghan Language Academy is moving!!! Wait. I thought you were online?

Yes, we ARE an online Spanish learning academy.  However, our business address will very soon be located in Grand Island, Nebraska. So what does this change if you are taking online classes with CLA, or would like to in the future?  Nothing!  But if you live in Grand Island there will soon be a local Spanish academy offering classes in a bricks-and-mortar environment (i.e. traditional classroom, not online).

The most recent U.S. Census figures for Grand Island estimate the 2011 total population to be 49,239.  This makes Grand Island the third largest city in the state of Nebraska, hence it's long standing nickname:  The Third City.  In 2010, the population of "White persons" in Grand Island was at 80%, the population of "Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin" was 26.7%.  There are two public school systems:  Grand Island Public Schools ("more than 8,000 students"), and Northwest Public Schools (at 1745 total students as of September, 2012).  Concerning the bigger of the two, GIPS, during the 2011-2012 school year, Hispanics comprised 46% of the total student population (White students accounted for 47%).  Through hearsay, I am aware that the Hispanic population is only growing in Grand Island.  Seems like a pretty good place to position a local Spanish language academy.  

Grand Island happens to be mi ciudad natal... my hometown.  I am looking forward to coming HOME!  I graduated from Northwest High School, and taught Spanish at Grand Island Senior High for three years.  So I truly feel I am both a Viking and and Islander!  (Sorry Crusaders.)  You can learn more about me here and I invite you to read student testimonials.  

If you or your company would be interested in Spanish classes to help you survive (or even thrive), please contact Krista via email to discuss your needs.  Our Fall 2013 schedule is now being organized!  Possibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • Spanish for banking professionals
  • Spanish for Realtors
  • Spanish for health care professionals
  • Spanish for Missional preparation
  • Spanish for restaurants
  • Spanish for law enforcement
  • Spanish for landlords
  • Spanish for housekeeping

I'm looking forward to serving the Spanish language-learning needs of Grand Island!

Census information retrieved from:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Learning Spanish colors, organically

In response to anybody who questions how early is too early to start learning a second language:  It can NEVER be too early!  In fact, the earlier the better.  Having taught students all the way from kindergarten through adults, I can tell you that anxiety levels (about the process of learning a language) are different depending on the age of the student.  The older a student, the more anxiety, stress and difficulty.  The younger the student, they barely realize they are learning something different or new.  Because it is ALL new to them!

Early Childhood news has a great article that talks about different ways of learning a foreign language including discussion about how language acquisition is easier for youngsters.  The U.S. has it all wrong in waiting to teach foreign languages until high school.  Now, there are many reasons for that, and that is a separate blog for another time.  But what inspired me in this article was the number of examples given for how students can naturally hone in on a second language through a more natural process, much like we learn our first language.  Howard Gardner and his Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983 and 1989) are appropriately referenced in the article, supporting that we all have different learning styles, stronger in some, weaker in others.  So here are my "Gardner-inspired" suggestions for helping students learn colors vocabulary.  Most of them are ways to build the Spanish language into your life as it already exists, making the process much more natural and sensible.

Linguistic Intelligence:  Using written and spoken language to learn.  Here is a listening exercise for identifying colors.  Color-by-numbers have students reading the words at an elementary level.  "Listen and click" is a great way to practice the colors by hearing and reading the questions.  Then, El Arco Iris is an interactive story for students to listen and read and identify the colors of the rainbow.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence:  Have students learn the colors in order of the rainbow.  Or associate numbers with colors:  If 2 = rojo and 3 = amarillo, what color would 2 + 3 = ?  ¡Anaranjado!   Use geometrical shapes (cubes, pyramids, cylinders) with Play-doh... have them create shapes in certain colors.  Use LEGOs to build numbers out of certain colors (also a Kinesthetic learning exercise!) and have students do the math problems like above.

Musical Intelligence:  Students learn and repeat a song, or even better... create one themselves!  Those who play instruments can associate a color term with a certain note.  Call out the colors, they play those notes.  Or vice versa, play the note and call out the associated colors.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence:  Wordle is a fabulous site to make word clouds that are enticing for visual learners.  Take the Wordle at the top of this blog (or go make your own), then print and color the words accordingly.  The position of these words is something that students can visualize spatially as they're recalling vocabulary.

Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence:  Color label items in your house.  These language cards can be used to cut apart, spread out and use as a matching or memory game.  Or, how about color tag in Spanish?  Go to the grocery store and call out a color and have kids find something that color and put it in the cart.  Make a Spanish rainbow cake.  The possibilities are endless, since colors are everywhere!

Social Intelligence:  Use the language cards socially.  Have a parent/mentor draw a card from a pile, say the color in Spanish and with crayons the student colors with that color.  Then switch roles so the student becomes "mentor."  For larger groups, give each a multi-colored toy.  Students partner with each other to tell what colors their toy is.  They trade toys before moving on to find another partner.        

Introspective Intelligence:  Student practices with the language cards alone, quietly.  Students can make two piles:  one pile they've mastered, the other they haven't so they know to where to shift focus.  The cards can be laminated and stored away in labeled drawers so they can be easily retrieved later.

Naturalistic Intelligence:  This is about how students use nature as a learning process.  Grow a garden in the summer and add the Spanish colors on the vegetation markers:  carrots (zanahorias):  anaranjado  peas (guisantes):  verde    roses (rosas):  rosado.  Another idea:  do a scavenger hunt, having students find something in nature of each different color.  Or play I Spy at the beach!  In Spanish, the game starts as a popular rhyme:
Veo, veo.  (I spy.)
¿Qué ves?  (What do you spy?)
Una cosita.  (A little thing.)
¿Y qué cosita es?  (What is it?)
"Veo algo morado..."  (I spy something purple...)

Bottom line:  Osmotically surround yourself with the language!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Young Amigos" sneak peak at the future

I'm feeling reflective tonight.  A lot has transpired in less than a year's time.  October 1, 2012 I started delivering my first online Young Amigos class, appropriate for grades K-6.  This is a multi-level program, complete with 8 levels of 10-week classes.  Well, not quite all 8 levels are complete.  I have successfully taught and delivered 3 levels of classes.  And with a current session running now, I have two more under-development... just barely staying ahead of the students in those courses.  :)  It has been a busy year.  And I'm loving it.

We are getting ready to spend the summer at our little oasis.  I can't wait.  Lots of positive, creative energy out there!

I have been very blessed to get to teach wonderful families, many of whom have given me precious constructive feedback to help me improve the courses.  +Trish Corlew and +Leann Warren have been instrumental in this success, among others with whom I don't have a G+ connection (yet).

Trish has three awesome sons.  I teach her older two in my high school Descubre class, her youngest is in his 3rd session of Young Amigos with me.  She has provided me incredibly beneficial feedback after experiencing the courses firsthand and has even agreed to come on board with Croghan Language Academy to help me put some cool ideas into practice.  You should check out her blog, Live and Learn Farm.  It is creative, insightful and thought-provoking... love it!

I got to meet Leann at Cincinnati Great Homeschool Convention.  Actually, she is a friend of Trish's who entered one of my raffles for a free class... and WON!  She produces a fabulous blog called Montessori Tidbits.  Among other things, she has helped me see how I can use Google+ as an extension of my courses, potentially use Hangouts to offer interaction and provide a social place to support homeschool Spanish students.  Oh, and Pinterest.  She has helped me organize CLA boards better as well!  :)

Most importantly, +John Croghan is my wonderful husband.  He is a musician and he will be coming on board with CLA as a creative consultant.  I want my own music, so he will be writing, performing and producing the recordings.  I look forward to starting this process in the fall!  Music can be such a powerful learning mechanism if it is done well.  I have the right guy for the job!  :)

(I'm a lucky gal!)

Other things to look forward to in future Young Amigos classes:

  • A curriculum change.  The current classes use a 3rd party curriculum.  While approximately 75% of the course material is my own, I do currently rely on a workbook and online resource center that is not mine.  I will be creating my own work/textbook and replacing the online resource center with my own activities as well.  Additionally, I want to change up the order of presentation on some key concepts, to make for an improved learning experience.
  • As mentioned, my own MÚSICA!
  • More manipulatives for hands-on learning.
  • I already offer two models of classes, one of them offering a weekly intensive live class meeting.  In addition, I plan to offer a free Google+ Hangout for all enrolled students.  We will do a little storytime or "Canta con Juan," Sing with John!
  • More course offerings!  I am considering developing a "Spanish for Missionaries" online course.  Spanish Praise Music would be a part of this.  
  • Co-op or large group discounts.
What do you think?  I would love to hear any thoughts you have about these ideas.  Otherwise, onward and upward... ¡Hasta pronto!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Co-op specials!

True story.  John and I went to our very first homeschool convention as vendors, and we just happen to go to the biggest convention in the country!  Cincinnati was wonderful!!!  And nothing like starting out bigger than big, right?

On Friday of the convention, we were doing our thing, greeting people as they walked by.  One mother briefly stopped and said, "are your classes online?"  I said, "yes."  She said, "Oh, OK.  I'm looking for something for our co-op," and continued walking.  My wheels started spinning.  Why couldn't I help out a co-op by teaching it's members Spanish in an online format?  Is it possible?  Is it logistical?  Is it convenient? YES!!!!!

I had to get through the rest of the busy weekend before I could get home and start to put some ideas on paper.  So here is the announcement:  Croghan Language Academy offers AWESOME deals for co-ops!!!  There isn't a lot of information on my site because I don't want to define this offering too much.  This is relatively flexible, I am glad to work with your co-op to find a solution for your Spanish class needs.  Is your co-op time too busy already?  No problem, just sign up together and you can take the classes whenever best suits each family!  Would you like to set up a live meeting with me for your co-op during your scheduled time together?  Great, you just need computers or perhaps one computer with a projector and screen.  Does your co-op have a variety of ages, therefore a variety of different levels needed?  Fantastic, I offer online Spanish classes all the way from K to 12!

Please contact me at to discuss your co-op's particular needs.  Rates are offered at a 40% discount per person for 10-25 students who enroll with me or an insane 50% discount for 26 or more students.  You seriously cannot beat this deal!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why learning Spanish should be towards the top of the curriculum list for homeschoolers

It was through talking to many families this past weekend at Great Homeschool Conventions Cincinnati that I was a bit shocked to learn that not everybody views a foreign language as a critical component of their learning.  Perhaps I am just a little too close to it, but I guess I figured it was well-known why it's a good idea to have at least two years of study in a given foreign language.  Time to evaluate:  Where are you in this thought process?

Each student's path is unique.  But no matter what decisions you make for your future, I whole-heartedly believe it is important to learn at least one new language during your lifetime:

  • College:  Did you know that most schools expect you to have at least 2 years of a given foreign language on your high school transcript?  Some actually even look for 4 years!  At some colleges, it's an absolute admissions requirement while at others you can fulfill the requirement during your years there (at high tuition prices and faster paces than it is taught at the high school level).  
  • Global society:  The Spanish language will not be exiting the U.S. culture anytime soon.  In fact, I've been reading up on this for a talk I'll be doing at the Omaha Teach Them Dilligently Convention.  Historically, other languages have been absorbed by English because the "subordinate" culture blends in to the "dominant."  But the Spanish language is gaining, not losing momentum in this country.  Cultural pride is strong.  Another point to consider is the fact that in many cases, Spanish was in this country before English when much of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado were technically part of Mexico until the Treaty of Guadalupe officially signed them over to the U.S in 1848.
  • Travel and missions:  There are 20 countries (not including Puerto Rico since it is actually a territory of the U.S.) where Spanish is spoken as a first language.  All of these except for Spain (in Europe) are in other parts of the "Americas," not far from the U.S.!  With this proximity, travel to Spanish-speaking countries is so much more a convenience than many other countries in this world.  Those of you doing missions work know that many of these Spanish-speaking lands are impoverished and in need of a good deal of feeding... both nutritionally and spiritually.  You will be quite an asset to your mission group if you can speak Spanish!  One adorable little girl I talked to in Cincinnati told me she wanted to learn Hindi.  I asked, "why Hindi?"  She said she wants to do mission work in India, and in India they speak Hindi.  And so how could she talk to them about the gospels if she didn't speak Hindi?!?!?  Touché.  :)  I loved it. 
  • Jobs, jobs jobs!  Seriously.  If you can call yourself fluent in Spanish, you will be opening many doors to your future career.  In fact, sometimes bilingual employees get paid more which sort of makes the non-bilingual employees a little bitter.  Don't be bitter!
  • Brain research:  There are TONS of recent studies that show that people that learn more than one language actually have more brain activity than those that don't learn languages.  In fact, it has been brought to light that cases of Alzheimer's are significantly less in bilingual people or those who have studied multiple languages.  That may not mean anything to you now at this young age, but trust me...  you're doing your brain a world of good by learning Spanish!!!  :)


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Can a machine decide if you can speak Spanish?

Recently, I've been learning from families that have young children trying to learn Spanish that certain automated programs (I mention no names!) that guide you through Spanish lessons may not be all that user-friendly or effective. Here's the deal... you use a computer microphone to submit speech. The program then tells you whether you are saying it "right" or not. I do not yet have first-hand experience with this program, but my understanding is that it either won't let you pass on to the next lesson, or it is discouraging to the child in some other way. I think this is one area where technology just cannot out-do a human. To put this into perspective, think about people you have encountered who are learning English. They may struggle through the language, and you may struggle to understand, even have to ask them to repeat a time or two. But if each syllable is not pronounced correctly, would you throw a hand up to stop them, stating that they are not doing it right? I mean, what is the goal here? For those formally studying the language for work or school, perfection might be the objective. But for most people, they just want to be able to understand and be understood in the target language.

 At Croghan Language Academy, there is a real person behind the computer (who happens to have a Bachelor's in Education and a Master's in Spanish), receiving your oral submissions and returning uplifting and encouraging feedback. Mistakes are used as learning experiences, not road blocks!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Raffle! (Ends March 27)

It's time for another raffle giveaway from Croghan Language Academy!  This is a Facebook Raffle only.

Would you like the opportunity to try out a session of Croghan Language Academy's online Young Amigos class completely for free???  Check this out!

Up for giveaway...  100% paid tuition for the next 10-week session of K-6 online Young Amigos, beginning April 15, 2013, for one family!  The class is also appropriate for almost-kindergartners.  It is the Asynchronous offering (no scheduled live class meetings) up for giveaway.

DISCLAIMER:  This raffle is for new-to-Croghan Language Academy families only.

Croghan Language Academy is a new venture for Krista that started in 2012.  She has many years of experience with Spanish and teaching of all ages (both online and bricks & mortar).  She is a current member of ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) and is excited to be an exhibitor at Great Homeschool Conventions Cincinnati April 4-6 and Teach Them Dilligently in Omaha, May 30 - June 1.  Look for the Croghan Language Academy booth if you plan to attend either of these conventions.

 Learn more about Krista.

This Giveaway for one K-6 online Spanish class is open now and ends March 27 at 12:00 a.m. (just in time for me to get your course materials out to you for class!)

Click to enter: Facebook raffle

Happy Raffling!!!

Giveaway Day