Teaching foreign languages always seems to be the task that leaves many homeschoolers feeling inadequate. I know I definitely don’t feel equipped. I only had one year of Spanish in high school and there’s very few words I remember. Thankfully, there are alternatives. I have found that the best option that works for us is to use an online course option. I have a new high school student this year so I had to choose what we would do. He wanted to learn Spanish and so it was perfect timing when I received the opportunity from Middlebury Interactive Languages to receive and review one of their Spanish courses. We chose the High School Spanish I course.
About the Product
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online courses in Spanish, French, Chinese and German. Refer to chart below for what levels are available for each language. There’s information on their website that will assist you in deciding on the correct course for your student.
The courses include a lot of cultural references by incorporating text, audio, video and images. There is also an optional online teacher that will assist in the speaking and writing assignments.
What We Received
For this review, we received one level for one semester (6 months). The course did not include the optional online teacher.
In the Trenches
I had my son work on his lessons three to five times a week. We actually started this course before our regular school was in complete full swing so I had him start using it daily and as we added other subjects, went down to three days at week unless he had extra time.
Middlebury Interactive Languages teaches by immersion. This means that from the very beginning, the student is exposed to full conversations in the language they are studying. You will figure out what the conversation is about and it becomes more involved as the lessons continue. A variety of video, audio, images and texts are used to teach. There are a variety of methods used to help the student learn, from speaking labs to writing. Quizzes are are also given to ensure mastery. As far as the speaking labs go, we did not have a microphone to use but my son improvised by using a voice recorder on my cell phone where he would record the program saying a word then he would repeat it. Afterwards, he would play back the recording and could hear if he was pronouncing the word correctly. It’s amazing how you think are saying it right until you hear it yourself!
The site is easy to navigate. Once you login, you have the option of using the calendar which will automatically assign daily lessons or going by the Table of Contents. On the calendar, each lesson is given and you only need to click on it to open the lesson. You can get a quick overview of the lesson as shown below. It will show in a split screen with all of the lesson shown.
We ended up using the Table of Contents option. As a lesson is completed, it is checked off. When you sign in to begin, you only need to click on the Contents and click down until you see where you stopped.
As you can see, there are a variety of lessons offered – warm-ups, speaking, vocabulary, writing, reading comprehension, quizzes and more. There are even flash cards! This is a full course, you will not just learn to speak a few rote words in the language. Not only will you learn much about the culture, you will learn words and conversations that would actually be helpful in real life experiences.
I think this is a great course if you are wanting to study one of the languages offered. It’s also nice if you want to continue the same language all the way through to advanced placement levels. All you need is a reliable internet connection. With the speaking lab, you don’t have to worry about mispronouncing any of the words. And I like that I don’t have to be involved in the actual teaching!!