Thursday, September 6, 2012

¿Usted habla español?

Last year we started looking for a way to incorporate foreign language learning into our homeschooling journey. We went to an introductory Spanish lesson that was taught using the TPRS method. Unfortunately, the class would only be offered if we could get more students to sign up. No one else was interested at the time, so I put language learning on the back-burner.

Over the summer, I found out that our local library now offers free access to Mango language lessons online through their website to all card holders. There are over forty languages to choose from, including everything from Spanish to Pirate(?). We went with Spanish(Latin American) because there are many Spanish speakers in our area and because it is a language with which I have reasonable familiarity thanks to five years of Spanish classes in school.

I opened up three separate accounts, one for each boy and one for myself, and we started learning. I really like the way the lessons are presented. Each lesson has conversational and grammar goals. There are ten chapters covered in the free 2.o language class. Each of those chapters has several lessons. Some of the chapters have titles like, Do You Speak English? and Shopping and Payments. An example of a grammar goal from one of the lessons in Do You Speak English? is to 'understand the basic structure of questions'.

The lessons are fairly interactive with helpful repetition that can easily be skipped through when unnecessary. As you begin a lesson, the screen shows a stack of cards, like flashcards. The narrator either introduces a new word to try or asks you to recall how to say a word or phrase you have already learned. Sometimes you need to use what you have learned to put together a new phrase. Grammar tips are introduced occasionally, as well. All words can be moused over for pronunciation help, both written and auditory. At any time in the lesson, you can skip forward or backward in the cards. An especially helpful feature is the interactive pronunciation comparison. The student records a sample of a word or phrase. Then you are able to playback your sample simultaneously with the narrator sample in order to carefully compare the two. This has been wonderful for EM. Due to his auditory processing disorder, recognizing the subtle differences in the pronunciation of words can be difficult for him. I'm realizing that this comparison tool can be a good supplement for the therapy program he already uses.

When we have completed all ten chapters that we can do for free, we may decide to purchase the next step through Mango's website. The free instruction is comparable to their first Passport Journey product. There are two more levels beyond it, both of which cost $79.

For now, I have started making flashcards for us to use together to supplement what we are learning online. I want to be sure we are retaining what we are picking up by using our new skills in situations other than on the computer. We will also use a set of vocabulary workbooks I picked up a few years ago. They are geared for grades 1-3 but I think they will work well for our early studies.

I was pleasantly surprised early in our lessons when EM was making attempts at dinner one night to start a conversation in Spanish. It's nice to see him getting excited about a style of learning that is not necessarily his greatest strength...

...and having fun in the process.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Don't you love it when you find something that is reasonably priced (or free!) and the kids like it? Major win!