Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review


My son has been learning another language using Middlebury Interactive Languages and their Elementary Chinese 1: Grades 3-5. We received a full 6 month subscription to the full course.
My son and husband are already pretty fluent with the Hebrew language. Little Man told me that he wanted to learn Chinese for over a year now. He was a bit hesitant learning two languages at once. Recently, he has felt that he was comfortable to learn another language. I was a bit surprised and actually delighted that he wanted to learn Chinese.

What is Middlebury Interactive Languages?

I have to say that Middlebury Interactive Languages has been absolutely amazing. Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online foreign language course that has courses for grades K-12. Currently they offer Spanish, German, French, and Chinese. You can choose courses that are advanced AP level courses, High School, Middle School, all levels of Elementary School.

This is a top notch multi-sensory approach to learning a foreign language. Not only are you learning how to speak the language and hear it spoken clearly, you are learning about the culture, and how to write it. You can even record yourself speaking the language to see if you are saying it correctly.

They have several downloadable PDF worksheets to print off a put in a notebook.

You will need a PC or laptop, internet access, headphone/microphone, and a printer if you want to print out the PDF worksheets.

No former knowledge of the language is needed as you begin with the basics. It is suggested to work on this 3x’s week.  The lessons are not very long. They are very engaging lessons. The Elementary Chinese 1: Grades 3-5 are broken down in Units. In which they have 16 Units. Every Unit consists of 6 lessons.

Unit 1: Numbers
Unit 2: Greetings
Unit 3: Family
Unit 4: Home
Unit 5: Adjectives/Colors
Unit 6: School
Unit 7: Food
Unit 8: Review 
Unit 9: Animals
Unit 10: Friends
Unit 11: Nature
Unit 12: Seasons
Unit 13: Clothing
Unit 14: Places
Unit 15: Professions
Unit 16: Review

Navigating the site is easy after you log in. You can begin your lessons using the Calendar which is a suggested lesson for the calendar day or you can go through the Table of Contents to access the lessons. My son liked the Calendar portion as he thought it was easier keeping track of what he has completed. A Gradebook is provided to check your progress. It is automated checking of your work and on the test. You can see your grade easily from the menu.

The lessons start out teaching basic concepts like numbers, colors, family social context, and get into other topics. Overall, the lessons are all in Chinese. The stories and such are read in Chinese. You pick up the story and figure out the meaning of the words. The culture teaching and writing portion is done in English. My son liked that many of the lessons start out with a Chinese fable or legend. Some of the lessons have games, or a speaking lab, or a video.

 At first we couldn’t locate our headphone/microphone. The fun part of moving is not remembering where you put things at in a new home-even after a year in the home. We did find our microphone finally. I would recommend a microphone. The program helps you hear how you are pronouncing the words and it also checks your pronunciation. Your grades are graded on the first try on test. You do have the option to redo your recording but, it won’t change your grade. I think Mandarin Chinese is a harder language to grasp than other foreign languages. Being able to hear yourself speak Chinese was a big help.

How did I use Middlebury Interactive Languages in my Homeschool?

As I mentioned earlier my 10 year old son has been working through this program.  I planned on using the program 3 days a week to finish it in one semester. That hasn’t been the case as my son has been highly motivated learning Chinese. He is basically doing his lessons 5 days a week. Usually, he is doing more than one lesson a day. I like that he is actually taking it serious and going over some of the lessons more than once. He wants to make sure he can say and remember the vocabulary. He does think that some of the words are hard to pronounce and that is why he wants to do some lessons more than once. Did you catch the words, “he wants”!

He loved trying his hand at writing the letters. He even pulled out his calligraphy set for writing the letters.

I’m really impressed with how clear the speaking is in the program. I love the systematic approach of learning. It’s clearly laid out step by step. I have been dealing with being sick and he was able to do this independently without my help. Granted he likes me to listen to him speak Chinese with what he recorded on the lessons. Other than that it was very stress free on my end.  I was able to step back and let him do his lessons without needing my help. Other than 2 weeks off and on of dealing with the junk I had I enjoyed sitting with him on the lessons. This was so different with Hebrew when I had to be by his side with every lesson.

The graphics are great. Little Man loved the comic style on the fables. Not all of it is done with a comic style as a lot of it is done in a realistic graphics also.

In the end I have to measure the program by if he is grasping the language, speaking some of the basic vocabulary. The answer is, ‘YES”!  

I’m really happy with what I am seeing. Little Man plans on completing the program after the review period. I’m absolutely thrilled that my son wanted to learn another language and that he is doing while he is young. He is soaking it all in like a sponge. If only I could soak it up that easily!
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Don’t forget to see what others on the Homeschool Review Crew have to say as we have all done different levels and languages.

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