Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages - A Review

Ever since Avery was born I knew I wanted to teach him of his heritage.  I was raised with a strong sense of my Irish heritage through my dad's side of the family.  Knowing the culture that birthed my ancestors gives me a clearer sense of who I am and where I came from.  Avery is Mexican on his paternal side, and I desire for him to have that same clear sense of who he is and where he comes from.  Growing up knowing the traditions and culture of your ancestors can help us in that process, especially when we have no other contact with or knowledge of our direct ancestors.

Since birth I have read Spanish language picture books, even when I have limited knowledge and understanding of the language myself, to Avery on a regular basis.  My high school Spanish class did little to prepare me for teaching my children to speak the language or understand the culture.  That's why a resource like Middlebury Interactive Languages is so essential to our homeschool.  For the past several weeks we have been enjoying our subscription to Elementary Spanish 1, Grades K-2.  Avery is the student in our homeschool that I had in mind when I volunteered for this review.  However, as soon as we log on it always draws a crowd.  Bella and Harmony just can't stay away when he's working through a lesson.  They inevitably end up participating over his shoulder.

This is such a fun way for children to learn the language of another culture.  I love the immersive approach used in this course.  The program uses actual stories from the culture as part of the lessons.  The animated stories presented completely in Spanish right from the start are very appealing to my children.  I wasn't sure what they would think of watching a story fully in another language that they do not understand.  Much to my surprise, they love it!  It doesn't take long before they are recognizing words and stating their meaning as the story progresses.  (It's a nice bit of confirmation for me as well.  All those years reading stories to Avery in Spanish have been well spent.)

The full Elementary Spanish 1, Grades K-2 course is presented as a two semester course.  It expires one year after purchase.  I was curious about this and took the time to look.  As a homeschooling family we don't always finish things at the same pace.  Fortunately, we have plenty of time to complete our entire one semester course before it expires next year.

Despite Avery's young age, he is able to work nearly independently throughout the day's lesson.  I do help him on occasion with some mouse navigation or preparing the laptop's internal microphone.  Each sentence has a little speaker next to it that can be pressed so that the student can have the information read to him.  So, when they say 'no prerequisite' they mean it.  The children literally do not even need to know how to read in order to complete this course.  Avery's favorite part is when he gets to listen to the word, record himself saying it, and compare the two.  This always leads to joyful laughter all around.  They all love hearing themselves speaking Spanish.

As a busy, homeschool mom that desires the highest quality education possible I really love this program.  It's engaging, effective, and easy to use.  Best of all is that it requires minimal effort on my part.  Avery can work independently, with very little assistance from me allowing me to direct my attention elsewhere as needed, or even ask my older student to assist him.  Anything that makes learning fun for my children and frees up my time is a win all the way around!

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