My son decided that he would like to start learning a foreign language this year. We decided that Spanish would make the most sense with his current career desires.We were offered Middlebury Interactive Languages for review. We received one full semester of this online interactive program. We chose Spanish Middle School Year 1. Middlebury Interactive Languages offers German, French, Spanish and Chinese. All of these courses are online and need an Internet connection to work.
This program retails for $119 per semester without teacher support.We reviewed semester 1 without teacher support. If you would like teacher support, the cost is $294. The student will be able to speak lots of common Spanish words, carry on a simple conversation and understand grammar patterns. They currently offer Spanish from elementary through high school. The course is self paced, but it is meant to be used three to four times a week.
I feel that foreign language is one of the hardest courses to find a good fit for homeschoolers. Learning languages is much easier in a group setting, and it can be especially hard if the teacher doesn't know the language. In our family, I have only a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, but my husband is semi-fluent. My son had very little exposure to Spanish before this program. He only knew a few words.
How my son felt ~He liked that the program had lots of variety. There are multiple games, presentation styles and videos. The curriculum concentrates on helping the student be able to read, listen, speak and write in Spanish. This is an immersion program and the "teacher" speaks in Spanish from the very beginning. My son found the program engaging. He also found the website very easy to move around. He liked the cultural information that he learned throughout the course. However, he felt like all of the information "was coming very fast and hard to understand". He was a bit intimidated by the format and intensity of the program. On one hand, he liked that it wasn't at all babyish, but he thought that it wasn't for his grade level. He asked me several times why I had gotten a program that was for adults.
What I thought ~ First, I feel that it is only fair to state that my son has several learning challenges. He is 14 and straddling subjects in 8th and 9th grade this year. He is very bright but needs lots of external support and very clear-cut directions. My son is an extreme visual learner with a strong need for hands-on activities. He struggles with auditory processing disorder. To say that any foreign language is going to be hard for him to master is an understatement. It doesn't matter how it is presented; it is going to be hard. So even though my review of this product would say that it did not really work for my son, I haven't found any foreign language program that clicks with his special needs.
So all of that aside, I thought the program was well presented. I agreed with him that it seemed very adult like and actually thought I should use it for myself to freshen up my Spanish. I liked the variety and ease of use. I appreciated all of the printouts. I strongly appreciated that throughout the course the speakers were easy to understand. Their accents were not overly strong, and I could clearly repeat the words. Our microphone turned out to be a bit wonky with the program and did not consistently work. This was more likely our fault than that of the company. However, since my husband can speak all of the words easily, he was able to correct our pronunciations. We liked the program overall.
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