Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages- TOS Review

It is no secret that we love foreign languages in our house.  Well, Spanish in particular.  Our youngest was born in Guatemala and came home speaking only Spanish at 21 months.  Since then we have worked to keep him exposed to his native language and to keep his sibling familiar with the language as well.   (They all need at least two years of a foreign language to graduate from high school anyway, right?) When one does not have a bilingual background it can be quite difficult to do so, but hey, I am determined to try.
Which is why I was so excited to get to try and review Middlebury Interactive Languages.
We were given a semester's worth of classes from any one of the available courses, so naturally we chose a  Spanish Course.  Because CJ is currently in the middle of a very busy semester we decided to try the middle school program for our 7th grader.  Lucky for you, you can use Middlebury for ages K-12th grade!
Here what is available!
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

This self-paced program is pretty amazing.  The K-2nd grade program consists of 35 lessons for a semester and the 3rd-5th grade program has 45 lessons per semester.  Middlebury recommends that you cover one lesson for 2-3 days per week.  The middle school and high school programs both have 90 lessons per semester, allowing you to cover a lesson a day for 18 weeks.  
Since the program is self paced, you can slow down if needed, which is what we had to do several times.  Some days are pretty heavy in vocabulary and I wanted to make sure my son was retaining the information presented rather than just checking off lessons.  After sitting with him for the first week and following along, he was able to continue the program on his own.

One of the things that attracted me to Middlebury Interactive Languages was the audio and visual content.  Since two of my kiddos learn best with those mediums, I knew this would be a good fit for them.  The content is visual pleasing and yet stimulating and the sound is good quality.  I especially appreciate the use of videos to show real life interactions.  After traveling to Guatemala several years ago, we realized that you can know all the vocabulary in the world and still not be able to communicate effectively.  By exposing ourselves to more natural settings and conversations, we hope to better be able to function in a Spanish speaking country.

Some of the things I like about Middlebury-
  • The lessons are broken down into sections that are less intimidating chunks of information.  Each lesson follows a similar pattern but with enough variation to not produce monotony and boredom day after day.
  • There is a little fun sprinkled in between some more challenging sections.  Let's face it, matching is a lot less intimidating than writing.  I think Middlebury has done a good job of finding that balance.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

  • There is a recording function!  Phrases were said and then my son could record himself and play it back to see how he sounded compared to the native speaker.  Love it!
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
  • Once a section has been completed, the title gets checked off to indicate it has been done, making it easy to keep up with where you are when accessing from the table of contents.
  • There is automatic grading which is then recorded in a gradebook you can access in the sidebar.  Here you can see not only the grades of your student, but go back to view the items graded as well if you desire to see where exactly they are having problems.

Some challenges we encountered.
  • Typing in words and sentences.  This just may be my son, but these sections discouraged him.   It is hard enough to type and spell in your native language, but when trying to do so in one you are just learning, it can be frustrating.  Through a necessary evil I guess.
  • There is a calendar with assigned lessons listed that put a lot of pressure on my son to keep up.  We eventually stopped using that calendar and accessed the next lesson in a different sidebar area.  Again, there were a few times we felt the need to repeat a lesson and the calendar was making him crazy!
Hmmm, that really is about it.  Overall, we really are enjoying using Middlebury Interactive Languages and will continue to do so.  By completing a lesson a day, we are well on our way to better comprehension and speaking.  Maybe even a step closer to a trip back to Guatemala!  I am actually eager to add CJ to an account in the spring semester, as after doing some more research on the younger levels, I think he will really enjoy it as well.  It is a user-friendly program that kids should have no problem using. 
You can purchase Middlebury Interactive Languages for $119.00 per semester without a teacher (self paced).
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  1. I am loving this language program, but the price - eek! It's super expensive compared to other programs because you have to purchase per user. Most programs can be shared among all family members. However, this one looks like something my boys especially would love! Since you tried the middle school level, you might not have an opinion about this, but could a younger child use the elementary one? Almost every French program begins at 3rd grade, but we NEED to get the kids (at least the older 3) understanding some French immediately.

    1. I think your younger kids would do fine with the elementary level, based on what I have seen. It is pretty exposrue heavy I believe. Click on the review tab above and look at a few reviews that say French Elem. I know several crew members used it and should be able to give you a better idea of what to expect! Let me know what you decide! Hope it works for you!


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