So many students are really resistant to fulfilling the high school graduation requirement for foreign language studies. For this reason, I was thrilled to be a part of the Homeschool Review Crew‘s review of Middlebury Interactive Language‘s Middle School Chinese I. My hope was that in getting a jumpstart on foreign language while still in middle school that it would be a much smoother transition in high school. We have not done foreign language consistently in our homeschool. Our son that reviewed this program was also part of our review of Middlebury’s Elementary Chinese I program. So when given this second chance a few years later, he actually was thrilled. I think we are moving in the right direction….
What We Received:
For this review, our family received a user account for one student to use the Middle School Chinese I course. This course is designed to be completed within a semester so we therefore were given a 6 month subscription. Included in the subscription is the course content and the parent dashboard.
Our son used this course primarily on our family computer. However, there is an app that can be downloaded on mobile devices for use on the go. We did download the app on to our iPad for days when our family had more technology needs than could be accomodated by our one computer. The software was fully functional on both devices. Our son could also pick up right where he left off since this is an online resource.
How We Used This:
This is a curriculum that is truly done independently by the student. Our son knew how to log into his account and it would take him directly to where he left off. At times, he would click on the Table of Contents in the left sidebar, just because he is the type of kid that is always asking, “How much more?” He does not mind doing the work, but likes to visually see his progress.
Each lesson took approximately 30-45 minutes to complete, which I felt was extremely reasonable at the Middle School level. He found he could concentrate better and hear better if using headphones with a built-in mic. I think this really did help him in blocking out background noise. This was critical in that the program incorporates lessons which reinforce reading, writing, and speaking the language. The Chinese program has an extra layer due to the nature of the language. Traditional written Chinese has characters and symbols that are not like our alphabet. Josh did learn to read the traditional Chinese as well as select the properly written words for sentences and in response to listening exercises. For the written part of the language study, the program does have the alphabet based translation of the traditional symbols. This enabled him to be able to type the words out as well.
In addition to the academic study of the language, its syntax, and speaking of it, our son was also introduced to the culture of China as it was embedded into the lessons. I honestly think this was his favorite part of the program.
So What Did We Think…
Middlebury Interactive Languages gets two thumbs up. The first for the learning that I saw happening and the second for creating a genuine interest in our son in foreign language studies. Having a parent dashboard definitely allows the parent to know exactly what has been completed and the level of mastery that the student has accomplished. Our son also knew how he was doing as each screen of work that he accomplished was graded before he moved on. He did have the opportunity to redo lessons to help build mastery. Like math, foreign language does build on itself so mastery is very important. Most of the time, I actually did not even go into the dashboard as our son was excited to share what he was learning. He knew that he was acquiring mastery of a new language; there was no question.
Life presents itself with enough battles. Finding a foreign language program that my son will do without a battle almost makes it a winner on that fact alone. He not only recognized that he was learning to speak and read Chinese, but was excited about it. He is a child that likes to look toward the future and had already put the pieces together in realizing that this was paving the way to easier and more successful foreign language studies in high school.
We have thoroughly enjoyed this review and will be continuing on with Middlebury Interactive Languages. It seems to be such a good fit for our son that I would see us continuing to extend our subscription through his high school years. Chinese is not the only foreign language to choose from. Middlebury also offers courses in Spanish, French, and German. These are offered at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels with multiple courses at each level. Additionally, there are course offerings for AP French and Spanish.
If you are interested in a different grade level or language, please be sure to check out the other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.