My husband and I have been blessed to be able to go to Mexico twice now to celebrate our anniversaries and have a much needed vacation for just the two of us. Every time we go I try to get a little better with my Spanish and have a great time trying to communicate with the local people working at the resorts. Most of the time they love to communicate with you too and will ask how to say things in English. It's really a fun experience.
This past convention season I picked up this book at Rainbow Resource called Spanish in 10 minutes a day. It was only $21.95, colorful, had a CD with it and looked like it contained a lot of vocabulary. I'm finding it very easy to use and love it!
The book claims to "give you an immediate speaking ability in Spanish." It also contained sticky labels (quite a few) and flashcards. I had been using other things for Spanish but they didn't have the flashcards which I'd been thinking would really help me retain what I was learning better. I honestly have not used the flashcards yet (I will) but have found the sticky labels extremely helpful.
Every time you walk past the door and see the sticker that says, "la puerta" it reminds you of what the word means. I also like that the pronouncation of la puerta is on the little sticker too (pwair-tah.) I have found the phonetic pronouncations to be very accurate according to the voice recognition program I also own. Anyone with a basic knowledge of phonics should be able to get a pretty good prononciation using these helps.
I know the very expensive programs like Rosetta Stone and Aurolog are all the rage right now, but I honestly feel I'm getting more out of this inexpensive book. Now granted I've done probably most of the Aurolog level one, so I had some experience with the language before using this book, but it seems to stick better for me.
Aurolog is a computer based program that has the voice recognition so it tells you if you are pronouncing words correctly. That feature for me was never a big issue. I tended to get most of the words pretty close to correct after hearing them once or twice. It also throws things out there that seem to not have been taught yet which often confused me. There's not much explanation in English, you just kind of go for it. It may be somewhat of a learning style thing but though I did gain a basic knowledge I often felt frustrated and didn't feel like I was mastering it.
The other part about it was that you had to be on the computer. I often have a few minutes here or there and even enjoy sitting out on the deck flipping through books etc... Having to be attached to the computer made it less likely for me to fit it in. With the book I can just look over and practice a few pages while I'm making dinner or waiting to pick up kids from practices etc...
For homeschooling multiple kids this also would be ideal. You can all practice together and learn together rather than having to find individual time on computers.
The CD that comes with the book has some games and things that would probably appeal to kids. I played through them but didn't spend a lot of time there as I already knew most of the words. They were things like dragging the color names to colors on a painters pallette or assigning the names to rooms of a house in the picture on the screen.
I also have some Spanish audio tapes, Living Language (40 lessons on CD's) which I picked up at Barnes and Noble a few years back. It has a paperback book that goes with the lessons and the CD pronounces all the words and phrases. This has been helpful except that you really need to be looking at the book as the CD doesn't say the phrase in Spanish then English, it just does the Spanish. You can just look at the paperback which is helpful but it doesn't have flashcards, stickers or nice colorful pages.
So while I'm not an expert in Spanish by any means, I do feel I'm starting to become pretty knowledgeable about the tools out there to learn!
I would highly recommend Spanish in 10 minutes a day. It's inexpensive, easy to use and looks to me like it covers at least as much as the Aurolog level 1. This would be a great way to go if you're not sure and don't want to invest lots. Pairing this with something that has an audio would be a great way to go too, although I think it could be done without an audio with good results.