Kids Language Course Online
When Middlebury Interactive Languages came in as an offer for a Crew review, I immediately thought of French, since that’s the language we’ve been learning lately. Super Hero quickly picked German though. He thought he could continue learning French with our current curriculum and tutor. German, in the other hand, sounded like a new challenge he was ready to taken on.
What We Received
Middlebury Interactive Languages gave us free access to the Elementary German 1 – grades 3 to 5, for a full semester, in exchange for my honest and thorough review.
Aside from German, Middlebury Interactive Languages offers Spanish, French and Chinese.
The cost for the course is $119 per semester (6 months) per child, without a teacher. Or $294 per semester per child with a teacher. We didn’t receive the teacher option in this deal.
What to Expect with Middlebury Interactive Languages
The core of the lessons are videos. Kid-friendly cartoons tell stories of well known tales or folk tales, mostly with a voiceover. Each unit’s intro tells Super Hero what will be covered and what’s to be accomplished. Nice, organized graphics or animation help him visualize what to expect throughout the unit. At first, Super Hero was instructed that he will be listening entirely in German. –”It’s okay if you can’t understand now, you will shortly.” This reassuring statement was a good beginning, and worked well to put Super Hero at ease, once the video started. Indeed, the videos tell the story entirely in German, with plenty repetition of the words to be learned. Subtitles, highlighting these key words, also appear at the bottom of the screen, in German too, of course. So expect a complete immersion right off the bat.
After Super Hero watches the video, he is given lots of opportunities to practice. He gets to repeat words or phrases, shuffle or drag words around. There are coloring books and songs. He needs a microphone so that he can listen to himself and compare. The system doesn’t compare it to the native speaker, that’s left to his (or mine) own discretion. So having a good ear helps, I hope! There are quizzes and tests, in unit 3 and 6. Lastly, there are nice PDF transcripts and vocabulary sheets in parallel columns (English & German) with the color-coded key words in lesson 6.
There are 8 units. Each unit has 6 lessons. Each lesson has an intro, objectives, the main video, and 3 to 4 practice activities, such as those mentioned earlier. Here are some screenshots to illustrate this.
We were only given one login for both of us, the parent and child. So I get to see Super Hero’s progress just by clicking on “Gradebook”, within the same menu Super Hero gets to use. This works well for us, but I wanted to mention it in case you were expecting different logins for parent and child.
How We Used Middlebury Interactive Languages
Super Hero has been using Middlebury Interactive Language’s German, level 1, 2 to 4 times a week during the last month and a half. He likes to do an entire lesson in one sitting. That’s the intro, the video and all the practice activities. This takes him about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. He frequently likes to watch the video tales at least two or three times. If he didn’t do this, he’d get done in 20 minutes tops.
Practicing His German
Our dear friend Bella (not her real name) actually attends a magnet German school. She was excited to shoot this short video featuring both kids speaking a little German. I figured it was a wonderful opportunity for Super Hero to practice what he has learned so far. Both children sat down to watch a couple of video tales. Later, they prepared a short conversation, that went roughly like this:
Bella: so you are learning German?
Super Hero: yes
Bella: what is your name?
Super Hero: my name is Super Hero, and yours?
Bella: my name is Bella. How old are you?
Super Hero: I am 9 years old, and you?
Bella: I am 8.
Both children: Good bye. Thank you
Our Opinion About Middlebury Interactive Languages
We both liked Middlebury Interactive Languages very much. The course is very well organized and everything’s easy to access. The system remembers what the child did last and will have the appropriate screen displayed during the next login. The videos, audios, practice activities, quizzes and tests look quite professionally made.
Though I didn’t think the cartoons were particularly “cute”, I recognize they’re perfect for children in the target audience. Indeed, Super Hero liked them quite well, and he thought they were fun. Still, he feels “there should be games!” I agree. I think any curriculum geared for elementary children has gotta have games! If programming some games into the system is not feasible, perhaps there could be some suggestions to play good ol’ fashion games. I completely believe in the power of games when teaching children anything. This is the reason why we knocked 1 star from the “kid-approved factor.”
I appreciate the story-based approach. It’s wonderful to get to learn a language listening to something meaningful, rather than starting with dry vocabulary words. I wish they would incorporate a little more opportunities for conversation. Nevertheless, Middlebury Interactive Languages is definitely an excellent language learning program. The fact that they offer a teacher option is fantastic (one could perhaps get conversation practice this way.) I haven’t heard of many online self-paced programs that give you this option. And the pricing seems real reasonable.
I’m so happy we had the opportunity to use and review this language learning program. There’s no doubt Super Hero will continue to learn German with it. He already mentioned his desire to continue on with level 2.
So What's the Scoop?
The Nitty Gritty
I would highly recommend Middlebury Interactive Languages for anyone seeking a kid-friendly, self-paced, fun program for children. And if you feel you need a real teacher for help or just to practice conversation, Middlebury Interactive offers that option too.
Not only has Super Hero enjoyed the German program, and wants to continue with it. I’m hoping he’ll want to pick up another language from here as well 🙂
What to Learn More?
If you’d like to learn more, you can read more reviews from my fellow Crew members. Or please visit Middlebury Interactive Languages‘ website or social media accounts:
Google +: https://plus.google.com/b/110371351490550861545/110371351490550861545/posts