TOS Review - Middlebury Interactive Languages

What Is It:

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a company that offers online language classes in Spanish, Chinese, French, and German.  Middlebury started as a college language course that used immersion to teach language comprehension and to accelerate the speed that students became fluent.  Now Middlebury has altered this hugely successful method to make it work for students!

For this review, we were given a full semester (6 months worth) access to the Elementary Spanish 1 course.  This course is for students with little to no Spanish exposure, geared mostly towards kids in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.  The course is fully online and uses pictures, video, text, and real life experiences to help the student fully grasp the language.  The focus of this level was listening, speaking, writing, and reading basic Spanish.

An added bonus is that not only do students learn beginning Spanish, they also learn a lot about the cultures and myths and legends common in these cultures.  

You can either take the course with a teacher or without.  We tried out the option without one.  If you choose this option, there is a teacher section where you can view their progress.  If you do get the option with the teacher, you are able to get credits for the course.

How We Used It:

When I signed up for this review, I intended it to be for Josie.  However, after snooping around the website I decided that I wanted in too.  I took two years of Spanish in high school and only remember how to introduce myself and a few, very basic phrases.  I've wanted to learn more for quite some time and have zero shame sitting in on a second graders class to do it!

The program was simple to use.  On the days we had Spanish on the agenda, Josie would sit at the desk with her headphones and listen to the lesson.  The lessons were short and there wasn't much action required for her.  There is a feature where the student can speak into the microphone to test their pronunciation, but we didn't use this feature.

There are 35 units in the semester.  If you have the teacher option, the teacher sets the schedule.  If you are not using that feature, you can set the order.  Each unit has 6 lessons that cover colors, numbers, family, greetings, school and review.  There are videos in each that repeat to help the student learn the words.  These videos are only in Spanish.  I know that this is part of the immersion style of teaching, but Josie was frustrated by this.  She was able to pick up a couple words she was able to pick up, but for the most part, she couldn't figure out the stories.  There are scripts for the stories, but by the time I figured that out she was already frustrated. 

My Opinion:

I had high hopes for this program and while it was a colorful, user friendly website, it just didn't work for us. 

There wasn't much instruction, but more videos in Spanish repeated a few times.  I think the goal was for the kids to pick up on what the words were by watching (hence, the immersion part of the program).  This frustrated Josie since she couldn't figure out what they were saying.  I had her continue and she did learn a few words, but didn't enjoy it.

I've said this before, but Josie has a hard time with a lot of computer programs.  She just doesn't get into it, which results in opposition.  If you have a student that enjoys computer time, this very well may be a great program for them.  Immersion style learning has a huge success rate.  I think I would try this style again when she is a bit older.

Product Details:

Spanish Courses - $120
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Tracy said...

Interesting -- I'm a Middlebury grad and didn't know that they made these programs. My 7 year old is nuts for any kind of computer game, so they would maybe be great for her.