Monday 20 October 2014

Middlebury Interactive Spanish-a review

Spanish has many advantages for us: a useful language which the children can have the opportunity to speak with friends at church and elsewhere and a language which is phonetically less complicated than many. My younger two children have had a little exposure to Spanish from friends and a little formal learning. This seemed a suitable time to extend this so I was pleased to have the opportunity to  review Middlebury Interactive Languages.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive have on-line courses in four languages:

The courses have different levels. We reviewed the K-2 course which is the equivalent to year 1 to year 3 in the UK. The other language courses start with grade 3-5 work.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
We received a login which took us to a welcome page. From this page, we were able to access the lessons. There are usually six lessons per unit around a theme: greetings, numbers, family, colours, school and review. These six units make up a semester when used twice a week. In the semester there are 35 lessons. There are two semesters available to purchase. I reviewed the first semester. This assumes no prior knowledge of Spanish.

A typical lesson would include an introduction with a learning objective e.g. I can name different colours. I can name my favourite colour. This might be followed by a picture. When the child clicks on the picture, the appropriate Spanish word is said.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

This is followed by a story in Spanish using an immersive approach.

and then a story re-cap where the child has to listen for the words which they are learning, for example, the words for colours. This is followed by more exercises to practice the words using interactive screens. As in this example, these are often related to the story which the child has heard.

 Finally, the child says and records the word and can compare their pronunciation to that of the actor on the programme. Other lessons might include songs, worksheets short videos about the culture and an end of unit test. The cultural videos include topics such as pinatas, family blankets and school uniforms and buses. These have accompanying quizzes. At the end of each unit is an explanation and translation of the whole of the story.

There is a separate gradebook section with scores from quizzes.

Middlebury recommend that Elementary children use the programme twice or three times per week.

The activities and story are accompanied by colourful graphics.

I used this course with Younger Daughter aged eight. She had done some Spanish before so was familiar with most of the vocabulary for the first few units. I felt that this was helpful revision for her. Sadly, Younger Daughter was not keen on the programme mainly because she found the immersion Spanish of the story frustrating. She felt that the only words for which an explanation was given were those that she already knew and not the main portion of the story which was a mystery to her. The explanation of the story in lesson 6 of each unit was helpful but was too late to avoid her frustration.

Although Younger Daughter was not keen on the course, overall, I think that the Middlebury Interactive K-2 Spanish is a helpful introduction to Spanish. Her younger brother, aged five, enjoyed watching the videos and perhaps, it would have been better to have used the course with him. The advantages of this course is that it is simple to use even for a parent with very little Spanish, it is both visual and auditory, it includes information about the culture and real Spanish stories appropriate for younger children.

Middlebury Interactive costs $119 (about £73.58 currently) per semester.

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