Wednesday 28 August 2013

Homeschool Spanish Academy

Modern languages are an area where I need help, with teaching so I was pleased when we had an opportunity to review Homeschool Spanish Academy.

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Homeschool Spanish Academy provides lessons via the internet from native Spanish speakers in Central America. It is based in Guatemala. The Academy teaches children from five as well as adults, using four different options:

Younger Daughter, aged six, had Spanish lessons from a lovely teacher called Elsa. Younger Daughter had had no previous Spanish lessons and her only Spanish word prior to the classes was "Hola". Not surprisingly, we chose to use the Early Language option.

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The Academy provides a planner where it is possible to select a teacher and time. The teacher profiles give a picture and information about them including the number of years that they have been teaching. The process of booking a slot is quite simple but YouTube videos are provided to guide through this.

The lessons are via Skype and of course, it is necessary to have a Skype account, the internet, a microphone and ideally, a webcam. Just before the first lesson, a Homeschool Spanish Academy technician called us to check our internet speed and that we could see and hear her.

Elsa called us promptly at the time of the class. She started the first lesson talking to my daughter in English but quickly started to use Spanish expressions. During the first lesson, she went over the Spanish vowels and a few nouns. After the lessons, home work is sent via a private part of the Academy website. This has, so far, been learning vocabulary from colourful sheets.

This is an example of  part of a vocabulary sheet.

Subsequent lessons, covered the alphabet, more nouns, a few verbs and some common expressions.

The Early Language Program lessons last 25 minutes whereas those in the other stages are 50 minutes.

What we liked about the programme
  • This is a great way to learn Spanish with a native speaker with none of the inconvenience and loss of time travelling to classes.
  • In addition, classes are generally one to one although it is possible to have paired classes if the students are not more than three grades (years) apart.
  • Elsa was friendly and encouraging, asking about the weather and our cats, in order to put Younger Daughter at ease.
  • The programme is good value for money. It would be unusual to find classes for this price.
What could be improved?
Very little.  
One suggestion for improvement would be to have audio files with the homework. I found it quite challenging to remember how to pronounce the alphabet.

Overall, this is a programme that I would recommend as an efficient and cost effective of learning a language with a first language speaker.

The cost varies with stage, whether a semester (15 weeks) or half-semester (7 weeks) is booked and number of lessons per week. A semester of the Early Language Program with one lesson per weeks costs $99.99 (about £64.17 which is £4.28 a lesson).  A semester of the Early Language Program with two lessons per week costs $174.99 (about £112.30).


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