Recently, my third grader has been able to work on his Spanish skills using the Middlebury Interactive Languages program available for children in grades K-12. This program offers courses in several different languages including Spanish, French, Chinese and German.We chose to work with the Spanish Courses geared towards students in grades 3-5 ($119.00). Below is a list of the courses they currently offer and for which grades.
We live in an area with an extremely large Spanish speaking population, so it only makes sense to have my children learn the language, at least a little! I figure, this is the age where they can pick up languages easier so I want to be sure to take full advantage of this opportunity! My son took one semester of Spanish in first grade at a private school but we haven't really pursued it much more since then!
This program took what he knew to an entirely different level! For example, he knows how to count to ten in Spanish, no problem. But this program doesn't simply focus on being able but it takes learning numbers to a whole new level! The student learns how to say phone numbers and even recites his own phone number! I loved this idea because it made him use his brain! He was forced to think of numbers in Spanish other than in order from one to ten. At first he was frustrated because he actually had to stop and think about what he was saying, but once he did it a few times he got the hang of it. What a great skill gained!
This program is entirely online and we used it on our PC based computers. It is good to have a microphone for the speaking labs but I'm sure you could work around it if you don't have one. The program is broken up into different units. Each unit has six lessons. There are quizzes throughout the lessons and a test on the last lesson of the unit. A new skill or concept is taught throughout each unit. The first lesson of each unit begins with a story. The story is animated and spoken entirely in Spanish. The words are written on the bottom of the screen, in Spanish, with the keywords highlighted that will be important for the present lesson and unit. At first this seemed overwhelming since there were clearly words that my son did not understand in these stories. But since the main words were highlighted, in reality, those were the only words that needed to be focused on at the time.
I liked this approach because it taught him the words in context from the beginning rather than just presenting him with a list of English/Spanish words to memorize. The story usually to repeated more than once with a goal for the child to attain so he can pick out specific words that will be the focal point of the lesson.
I appreciated the variety of activities in the lessons. The program is not only user friendly but child friendly. On the right hand side of the screen are all of the parts to the lesson that the child can click on until he completes the lesson. I simply would set it up each day for him and he would work through the lesson on his own, with ease. There was then a place where I, the teacher, could look at his work, quizzes and tests to see how he did. There is a grade book and a calendar with the assignments.
My son's favorite aspect of this program were the speaking labs. During this portion of the lesson the student speaks his answer into the microphone. He can then hear his response. He loved not only recording himself but listening to himself speaking Spanish when he could playback what he just spoke!
Overall, we enjoyed this program. There were no headaches or tears and my son grew leaps and bounds in his Spanish skills! My only conflict with this program is with some of the stories used. Personally, we don't advocate magic and several of the fairy tales incorporated magic into the stories. Although this program isn't entirely for us, I see how this would work successfully for many homeschool students and think this would be an excellent resource in many homes!