Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CREW Review- Speekee TV

You just have to know upfront that I have been excited about this review since the minute we got it.  And it is very personal for us.  And I am going to go on and on!  And then maybe on some more.

We love Speekee!

Hola, soy Speekee. Y tu?
Hola, soy Jim.
Hola, soy Dino.
Hola, soy Lupi.

That's how the videos start.  I typed it by heart.  Wanna know why?  Because CJ is an obsessed Speekee groupie.  Think Elvis or Beetles, here!
Before I get too ahead of myself, let me fill in some details.  Speekee TV is an online video program that teaches younger children (recommended 2-10) Spanish by immersion.  Using the adorable purple puppet, Speekee, two sock puppet friends Dino and Lupe, and then a cast of children in Spain led by the teacher, Jim, your child learns vocabulary, phrases and catchy songs.  (That sometimes make my 14 year old leave the room, I do admit!)  Each of the 10 videos are centered around a theme (cafe, park, school, zoo etc.) and last about 20 minutes long.  There are also individual clips you can watch if you have time for only a few sections in one sitting.  Following the immersion concept, the videos are completely in Spanish, with subtitles available.  To increase your learning, the FastTrack program has been added, which schedules specific learning instructions for a 40 week period.  The added bonus is that these lessons can be emailed to you each week as a reminder.  Worksheets and flashcards are included along with activity suggestions.  While watching the videos your child gets to earn points to use in the mercado (store).  Points buy you colors, patterns or accessories to allow you to change your puppet on the side bar.  This is not an essential part of the program, just a little fun on the side to entertain younger children especially.
So why do we love Speekee?  At the risk of sounding like a infomercial, here goes.
As some of you may know, our family adopted our youngest, now five, from Guatemala at the age of almost two.  Yes, he came home only speaking Spanish and No, we are not bilingual.  At all!  But we tried.  We read bilingual books, listened to tapes,  stumbled over Spanish toddler phrases and did our best to keep his Spanish in tact.  Results- not so much.  We began to see a trend of CJ saying, No Espanol.  It seemed the more we tried, the more he dug his heals in about speaking Spanish.  Seriously!  And then Speekee came into our house and for some bizarre reason my child became obsessed.  He has spoken more Spanish in the past 6 weeks than in his three years home.  And we have watched those videos until we all know them by heart.  CJ's foster mom may still cringe at our pitiful attempt of an accent, but I pray she will be proud of his progress and our commitment to try to honor his heritage.  When we are able to return to Guatemala to visit one day, we may be singing our Spanish, but hey, at least we know a little more than we did a month ago!
A few things about how we used this program.  The FastTrack lesson plans take it nice and slow, which I recommend for slightly older children, but for CJ we put aside the lessons until next year, when he is in first grade.  We have been introducing two videos each week and then each day he chooses which one he would like to watch.  Now he has six to choose from so far and I do usually limit him to only two a day.  Otherwise he might drive us all crazy!  We accidentally got locked out of the program for almost two days (read I forgot the log in and password here) and I thought my child was going to have a meltdown.  We seriously almost Skyped with a fellow CREW member so he could watch along with her child. 

I sit with CJ while he watches the video, occasionally piping in with a translation or repeating something I am not sure he caught.  There are several times during the program that Speekee asks for your response, which CJ loves.  I also sit with him right now because for some reason every time the songs begin he wants to jump up and dance, playing his pretend guitar.  Now I have convinced him that is only needed during the opening and closing song.  An older child should need no guidance except for when you are teaching using the FastTrack lesson plans, but know that they will have to learn to use reasoning to figure out what is being said sometimes.  It takes time and patience for sure, but teaches them to look for visual cues, which Jim is wonderful at giving.  If CJ asks me what they said, I often will pause the video and get him to think about the clues and the context.  If my 5 year old can figure it out, your child can too!  Studies show immersion of a language works best for learning, something we saw firsthand while in Guatemala.
Why he loves it so much...
*Maybe because of the cute purple puppet.  Childish for older kids, probably, but not really for the targeted age.
*The catchy songs which I have to admit run through my head at some point every day!
*The clips that are real people.  Each of those clips are filmed in real places in Spain using real students who speak Spanish.  Maybe he identifies with them, maybe not.  But he LOVES those clips best!  Note- This Spanish is from Spain, not Latin American, so some words are going to be slightly different.
Why I love it so much...
*CJ is learning while having fun!
*CJ asks to do Speekee EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!  More than once, mind you!
*FastTrack is organized and emailed to me.  Printables are included.  You all know how I LOVE lesson plans!
*The cost is great!

My only regret- There are only 10 videos.  While it will take you at least 40 weeks to move through the curriculum and maybe longer to master all that the videos encompass, I KNOW we are going to not want to stop!  So here's a shout out to Jim...we are ready for more!  ;)

You can try two weeks of Speekee for free, which I encourage you to do.  After that it is $7.50 per month, or $60.00 for the year.  You can also buy a DVD boxed set, but since the company is out of the UK, make sure your DVD player is PAL compatible.

 To see what fellow CREW member shad to say about Speekee, click on the banner below.
Disclaimer- We received a free six month subscription to Speekee TV in exchange for our honest review.  The opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

1 comment:

  1. Hola Michele, Hola CJ, This is Jim from Speekee checking in to say a big GRACIAS for your review. Much appreciated!


Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from you!