Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Excelerate Spanish- Review

Ok, you all know by now that I love Spanish, right?  I mean, I only mention it a lot.  That has not always been the case.  For the record, I did take three years of Spanish in High School and two semesters in college.  Off the record, I did not pay a lot of attention.  My excuse, there was this really cute blond boy in my high school classes.  (I married him, for the record!)

But since God saw fit to bring this other really cute dark haired boy into our lives 5 years ago, I have been on a mission to learn as much Spanish as possible.  I promise I am paying more attention this time.  CJ came home at 21 months old.  He had heard mostly Spanish and probably knew more than we were actually aware of.  You know, toddlers sound like toddlers in any language.   And he picked up English fast!  Like in days!  But, I was determined to do my best to keep him bi-lingual.  Hence, my obsession with Spanish.

And now, I have found another great Spanish program!  Great!  And it has videos and lots of action, which is a perfect fit for my almost 7 year old, always-moving Guatemalan prince.

Let me tell you about it!

Excelerate Spanish is the brain child of Caryn Powell Hommel.  By using the TPR method (Total Physical Response), which is essentially actions paired with fun stories, Caryn introduces vocabulary in a way that kids will learn and REMEMBER.  Each video lesson is a new mini stand-alone session with a new theme.  When Caryn graciously offered to let us try out this program, we might have done a happy dance.  OK, we DID do a happy dance! ;)

First vocabulary is introduced and the actions for that vocabulary are shown.  Then the student practices by putting different series of those words together.  Several groups of words are introduced that way, and your children will see the kids in Caryn's class acting out the words as well.  Then a short story is told while Caryn acts it out.  Afterwards several of her students take turns acting out the same story.   Next, Caryn leads the students in answering questions and identifying words in the student workbook and encourages them to practice after class.  Each lesson averages about 45 minutes and is action packed.  You can watch it all at once, or break it down into smaller chunks if needed.  Included in the teacher's guide is a suggested schedule for a five days a week program.

In addition to the videos, you can also purchase the lesson book and the student workbook.  While you could get by with just the videos, I would not recommend it.  We did the first few lessons without them, and I was so relieved to have them once they came for a little more guidance.  The program does not require the teacher to be fluent in Spanish - Caryn has you covered!

What we thought -
Well, are there many Spanish programs out there we do not like?  Not many!  But this one, well, this one far exceeded my expectations!  The workbook, vocabulary and organization are good.  It covers a lot of territory and could fill your days and weeks with a lot of information.  But what make Excelerate SPANISH stand out are the videos.  While the quality is pretty basic, the information is not!  There is so much in each lesson, that I admit, a few times my head felt like it was going to spin off.  Caryn goes fast sometimes but what I found was that she also repeats herself often.  And with every time she repeated herself, I found the boys and I understood a little more.

From my personal experience, anyone can learn vocabulary.  Understanding a native speaker - now that takes time and practice.  The more you get used to hearing the language, the faster you pick it up.  It is like you stop trying to translate every word and start understanding phrases and concepts.  I saw that happening more and more with each new lesson we did.  In my opinion, that is just not something you are going to get from just a book.  In five weeks, my boys already know more phrases than they have learned in the past year.

In addition, the actions being taught kept my sons' attention, especially our youngest.  He is an in-motion kid. You know, the one that learns by movement.  Most call it kinesthetic.  I call it exhausting.  But, it is how he learns.  So when Mrs. Caryn had kids come to the front of the room to act out the stories, CJ was right there with them.  My oldest was a little more hesitant, chalk that up to being a 12 year old boy, but both learned and retained much more when they actively participated in the stories.  So while the kids on the videos acted things out, we did so too.

Five weeks into the program and all is well.  We watch a video lesson at the beginning of the week, spend one or two days going over the workbook pages and several days just reviewing the vocabulary.  Lesson learned, writing the vocabulary on a whiteboard to have in view all week will help you and keep you from having to go back and look constantly when you cannot remember a word or phrase. Having those in full view also allows you to try to incorporate them into your daily conversations as well.

I highly recommend Excelerate SPANISH if you have a child elementary age and up learning Spanish.  For the price, $139.00 for the complete package, it is a steal; not only in the hours of instruction it provides, but the level of learning as well.  Four videos with 6 lessons each are included, as well as the workbook, answer key and lesson book.

As for us, we will continue to use this program to completion - one step closer to CJ becoming bi-lingual and a visit trip to Guatemala!



  1. Hi! What a great review! I am looking into a Spanish program for my soon to be 6yo to start in the Fall and this is one I have been considering. In your opinion, would it be appropriate for her age? She has been doing Spanish at preschool for two years, but I would really like to cement it and move towards understanding and using it as "second nature." (I would really like this for myself as well, so we would be doing it together!). I am not opposed to taking more time with it and going at her pace. Thanks! (ps. I LOVED your modesty post!)

    1. Ally, I do think she would be old enough! My son is almost 7 and is doing well. I do break the lessons down a little more because they are a little longer than his attention span. It is fun to do together and we do a lot of giggling with each other doing the actions. I hope you enjoy it!
      Glad you enjoyed the modesty post! It is something we feel passionate about!

    2. Wonderful! Thank you so much! I have been poking around more and really enjoy your blog/perspective. We are military also (9 years in the Navy) so it great to find someone in a similar bpat as us (military, Christian, homeschooling). :)

  2. HI there, I would love to ask a question about Excelerate. Does the teacher very clearly pronounce each word? We are from Australia and are trying to find a program that we can clearly understand and copy each word and pronounciation. This is harder to find than one thinks. Our daughter is 10 years old and we are completely starting with zero Spanish. Thanks for the review!

  3. Yes, I think the pronunciation is very well done! Having a video with audio often helps that over just a CD track! Australia? How fun!

  4. Do you still believe this to be a good program? Did you ever try any other? And since it appears that you have high schoolers needing high school Spanish credit, is this what you are using?

    1. Hi Bev! I do believe that this is a good program! We are currently not using it due to the particular child's needs that is currently taking Spanish but I still like it a lot!


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