After taking four years of Spanish in highschool, including one year of AP Spanish, you would think teaching a second language to my kids would be no big deal right? Wrong! While I was almost fluent in Spanish when I graduated that was (ahem 😉 ) a while ago…and with no need to really use Spanish every day in my regular life, I have lost much of what I learned. So, I was excited to give the Spanish Courses from Middlebury Interactive Languages a try with my 8th grade son!
We used the Middle School Spanish 1 course, aimed at students in grades 6-8, with my son working three-four days a week. The course is set up as self-paced, with students working through the lessons at their own speed. They have six months to complete the course. If you were to complete one lesson per day, it would take you about one semester to finish. At the pace we were moving, it would have been slightly longer than that, but still well within the six month time period.
The course is divided into units, which are divided into lessons with different activties. Basically, we aimed to complete one lesson in each session. The activities in each lesson vary slightly, with some lessons having more activities than others. Each lesson featured a speaking lab with recordings of native speakers going over the phrases and vocabulary. In addition, each lesson had some sort of interactive activity for students to practice what they learned. Longer lessons may have more than one lab and activity. I really thought these activities were very well done and appropriate for the grade level. For example, at one point my son listened to two native speakers having a conversation, and then clicked and dragged the missing words and phrases to their correct spots. It was enough to engage him, but not be seen as “babyish” in his eyes.
Activities are scored right away, and students get more than one chance to complete it, giving them a change to achieve mastery. I also appreciated the structure of the lessons. They flowed very well together. For the most part, our lessons started with a recording of natural conversation between native speakers. Students were then given a chance to learn the vocabulary with an activity, such as listening to the phrases out loud and trying to guess their meaning.
One of the things I liked most about Middlebury is that they actually get into teaching grammar, not just speaking vocabulary. It seems like a lot of online courses skip this part, which I think is central to being able to use a course to complete a credit. Each unit teaches one or two grammar topics, giving students a great foundation for high school. As he completed the lesson on subject pronouns, and I listened along, I was surprised how much of what I used to know came back to me!The grammar lessons were longer than the other ones, with multiple opportunities to practice the concept. We split these lessons up into two days.
The Middle School Spanish course consists of nine units, and a mid-term and final exam. It was really nice to have these included, and have the scoring done for me! I was very pleased with what Middlebury had to offer, and the best part was that my son enjoyed it too. He said he felt like he was taking a more “grown up” class than he had in other places, and the lessons were done in 30 minutes or less. He also told me he felt like he was learning a lot with Middlebury. They also offer courses in French, German, and Chinese for grades K-12. A one-semester course, like the one we took, costs $119.
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