WHAT IS IT?:
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a wide variety of language learning courses for grades K-12. You can see below which courses are available for various grade levels. These include Spanish, French, Chinese, and German. Each course is one semester in length. Middlebury’s teaching style is full language immersion, giving students exposure to complete language right from the start and a well-rounded exposure to culture.
The recommended pace is two lessons per week for grades K-2, and students will complete a total of 35 lessons to complete the semester course; two to three lessons per week for grades 3-5, for a total of 45 lessons; and 4 lessons per week for grades 6-12, for a total of 90 lessons.
Courses can be completed with or without a teacher for all levels of courses except AP, which requires teacher involvement.
Take a look at some videos that showcase the course overview, highlight elementary and high school courses, and provide testimonials from a principal, a teacher, and a student perspective.
Each semester course can be purchased for $119 without a teacher, or $294 with a teacher. The exception is AP semester courses, which require a teacher and can be purchased for $319.
My 6-year old son, Holden, is a first grader this year. He was the lucky student for the Elementary Spanish 1 course for grades K-2 (the version without a teacher). He had been working through a workbook for the last few weeks, but I’d found it to be getting too advanced for him. So when this review opportunity came up, I knew he’d be a good candidate for something like this. He loves videos, and this course offered him full animated cartoon-like videos to watch. He was thrilled to give it a try!
As soon as he completed the first lesson, he was hooked. I really can stress enough how this program drew him right in, and I could tell he was going to be in it for the long haul. He wanted to do more and more lessons. This wasn’t like school…this was FUN! Initially, I let him go at his own pace, which turned out to be at least two lessons/day for 4 days/week. He even wanted to do it on the weekends! When I realized there were 35 lessons and that he’d complete them way too fast, I decided to take it down to the recommended pace of 2 lessons per week. So now he’s doing a lesson on Monday and a lesson on Wednesday. He’d still rather speed it up, but I wanted to get a feel for what the vendor recommended for this age group.
Right from the beginning of the course, Holden would watch videos that were traditional stories in Spanish culture. The animated characters spoke only in Spanish with complete conversations taking place. At first, I thought he wouldn’t pick up much from it, but his focus was really on the cartoon, and before long, I realized he was actually picking up a lot from it.
Each lesson had a theme, like numbers, relationships, etc. The key vocabulary words for the lesson were highlighted within the video so he could see them being used in context. Then there were exercises after each video that allowed him to practice those key terms. He’d always have a chance to hear the words being spoken by a native speaker, and he could have them repeated as much as he wanted before moving on.
Next, he’d get to do some kind of matching activity where he could see if he remembered the meaning of the words and understood their English translations by matching them with relevant pictures. The videos were repeated often throughout the lessons so he’d get multiple exposures to the story. He’d often have to recap the story in some way, like by putting scenes in story order.
There was also plenty of opportunity to do review activities to make sure he was retaining the information from lesson to lesson and take a little quiz. Review is obviously an important component to any language course. The quizzes were graded instantly when he clicked on the checkmark after finishing them. Those grades were recorded for me to view at any time, and he could see his score displayed on the screen as soon as he submitted it. This gave him tremendous encouragement to be able to see that he remembered the material accurately!
Then at the end of each lesson, he’d always have a chance to take a speaking test. I thought the speaking test was super cool. He was not only hearing and seeing the language, but also speaking it! He would first listen to the native speaker say each word, and then he would record himself repeating each word. Then he could play back his recordings and compare them with the native speaker’s speech. If he hadn’t gotten it quite right or wanted to try again, he could record it again until he was satisfied. Then he’d submit it. Because this was the version without a teacher, I could go into the dashboard and see his progress and listen to the recordings myself, but he always got immediate credit for participation in the activity.
Even as we spaced out our lessons, I was impressed with how much he retained. This was a program that really stuck with him! And I have to say that he is thoroughly enjoying this course! He loves it so much that we’ve abandoned the workbook we were doing before this, and this course has now replaced it in his regular school work! I would love to see him continuing these courses in the future, but I wish there were more courses available for his grade level. At this point, he’ll have to wait until he gets to 3rd grade before he’s an appropriate age for the next course that’s available. But for now, he absolutely loves it, and he’s gleaning so much understanding from it! I definitely would recommend this program for anyone with a student who responds well to audio-visual learning. In fact, my 5th grade daughter was quite jealous and said she wished she could take a Middlebury Interactive Language course herself!
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