Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homeschool Spanish Academy

Because my husband was born in Panama, my kids have always had an interest in learning Spanish.  My in-laws are native speakers and my husband knows enough to survive in a Spanish speaking country but no one in the family has really made it a priority to pass the language down to the next generation.  So when I was given an opportunity to review Homeschool Spanish Academy’s program, I jumped at the chance.

To effectively use the program you have to have proper computer speed, an internal computer microphone and preferably a webcam.  You also have to be comfortable using Skype.  The folks at Homeschool Spanish Academy are very patient when walking you through the process of checking the capabilities of your hardware but if you aren’t comfortable with the “workings” of your computer, this process can be daunting.  Of course we had a little trouble trying to make my microphone work. If my husband wasn’t by my side as the Homeschool Spanish Academy people took us through this process, I would’ve been very frustrated.  I just don’t have the patience for working through computer issues. 

However, if I had given up I would’ve missed out on a great experience.  I had never used Skype before so that was exciting.  My kids got a kick out of seeing the instructor online as well.  We used the Early Learner program.  The lessons were easy enough to follow and the kids (mom too) walked away from the very first lesson armed with new Spanish vocabulary.  That was really cool!  We received the lessons ahead of time by way of email so the kids were familiar with the words and consequently moved through the lessons fairly quickly which lasted for 30 minutes. 

Halfway through my review period we went on vacation.  Unfortunately, an inconsistent WIFI connection at our hotel made for an incomplete lesson that week.  Because lessons are live over the Internet, I’m unsure how classes are made up if missed.   Olga, our instructor, mentioned that the disconnect was not their fault so she was unsure of the make up policy.  However, I just scheduled two lessons for the following week and it didn't seem to be an issue.  I believe that the customer service is top notch and there wouldn’t be any issues making up classes. 

I took 4 years of high school Spanish and a semester of college Spanish so I know a few things.  One thing I know is that traditional school Spanish instruction includes grammar and verb conjugation work.  This seems to be missing from a lot of the homeschool Spanish programs we have experience with.   Perhaps the goal of most foreign language curriculum providers is immediate language use and the recognition of common vocabulary.  The immersion programs are great for this.  However, for a comprehensive program, I think it is important to understand verb roots and how the endings change depending upon the subject of the sentence so one can have an intelligible conversation.  

Unlike some other reviewers of the program, I did not receive homework for my kids to complete.  This would have been a nice edition to our experience.  I also was unaware of the scope & sequence for the entire lesson which another reviewer had access to.  I listed one complaint (below) about the lack of verb work included in the program.  If I had the scope & sequence in the beginning, then I would've known that eventually we would have covered a little of that information.

My overall thoughts:

  • I love the fact that the instructors are native speakers.  My kids often looked to me when Olga would just speak sentences in an effort to teach the lesson.  For example, in one lesson my girls learned the names of many fruits.  Using pictures they could see on screen, Olga asked my girls “Te gusta naranjas?”    So they knew “naranja” was an orange but didn’t know “te gusta.”   Olga explained her sentence in English and then the kids answered her question. When I learned Spanish, I learned the verb “Gustar” means “to like” and then I learned to use the correct verb endings depending upon who was the subject of the sentence.  
  • You just can’t beat the live interaction.  It is engaging, the kids love the instant feedback, and they are eager for the lesson each week.  My kids said they love the one on one time with the instructor.
  • Scheduling each week’s lessons based on availability was easy.  There were many time slots to choose from which lends itself to greater flexibility depending upon what we were doing that week.
I would recommend this product.  The price is reasonable. 

Unfortunately, I invested in a pricey language immersion program over a year ago.  With either program, I have to order a grammar supplement so I will have to evaluate the success of this combination with my high school student next year.  But if this is your first purchase for a Spanish language program, I would start with Homeschool Spanish Academy FIRST.   It is economical and you can not beat the live instruction.

Click on the link below to see what other TOS reviewers think of this product.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

1 comment:

  1. A very nice review!! I will be taking notes from you. Great Work!! Thank you for sharing.



Related Posts with Thumbnails