Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ Schoolhouse Review Crew

  We recently had such an exciting opportunity come our way.  I think I have mentioned in the past my oldest son (who is 9) his fascination and desire to learn the Chinese language. In the last year, I have learned that this is a seriously difficult thing to do. While I am mostly fluent in German and my husband has some skills in the Spanish language, neither of us has any (or has been successful) in helping our son along in this quest of his. Enter in Middlebury Interactive Languages and their online interactive course, Elementary Chinese 1, for grades 3-5.  This program is for 6 months, all courses are purchased by semester.

Who is Middlebury Interactive Languages?  This is an amazing program, interactive foreign language courses, online for grades K-12. You can choose from advanced and AP level courses for high school or Elementary and Middle School. These courses are all designed to give children a multi-sensory approach to learning a language while also given them the experience of immersion which means they do  not only hear and speak it, but they also learn to write it; they study grammar, and the culture itself. This chart can show you the online languages available at this time, at each grade level offered:

There are seven units covered in this course; starting with numbers going from there through greetings, home and family, food, colors, adjectives and school. Each unit contains six lessons to work through which test them on the material they are learning, a learning and speech lab for them to record themselves practicing the words they learn. The final unit is a review of the material that has been learned. We started immediately when we received our login information. You can access lessons by clicking on the menu and then choosing Calendar or Table Contents. The Calendar provides you with the appropriate lesson for each day. You then click the play button to view the material within the list. For the most part this is what my son did during his time on the program. I think it helped him a lot too, seeing it all organized and being able to track his progress. He also really likes to see how close he is to the finish line. A sense of accomplishment I suppose?

My son who is 9 used the Elementary Chinese course 3-5 days a week.  Some days we repeated previous lessons; since only the instructions are in English, it took some time to get the focus needed both visually and audibly.  All of the words are shown in both pinyin and character. I really like this myself, because since there is work to be done on character memorization while learning to speak, its a bit of extra reinforcement.  They also teach the stroke order for characters. Very helpful. The one thing that was a bit bothersome for my son was how fast some of the words were said. There were a couple that we just could not understand. Perhaps if there was a way to slow down the audio; there were notes for pronunciation below the words but with very little understanding of the basics, it was still quite a  challenge some days. On the bright side my son cracked his brother and sister up a few times trying to say it just right. I was very impressed with the ability to print off copies of the full story, along with a nice explanation and also a list of the vocabulary for each unit. These are all found in the final lesson for each unit; we have taken to printing them out right away to use along with the lessons for each unit. It is a helpful tool to have as we go along.  As we have gone along though, I have to say, with how involved these lessons are, I do wish we had more than 6 months for the course; so much we have gone back to review, I am not sure we will complete this all in six months and have good retention of the material learned. I love how they teach (written and oral all together) but I do see it as being a lot (at least for this language) to take in. Regardless we are thoroughly enjoying our experience with this program!

This is an amazing introductory course, to the Chinese language. It is so fun, such an interactive experience to the language (spoken and written) as well as this unique culture itself.. Each unit is based on a story, myth or legend from the Chinese culture. The focus is primarily on vocabulary, yet there are also many basic grammar principles which can be seen throughout the stories, games, activities, and assessments. There are also tasks for each student to learn and perform within these units. It is an amazing way for anyone to begin to read, write, speak and listen in the Chinese language; at the same time we learn to recognize distinct practices within the Chinese culture too.

To get a better idea of how Middlebury Interactive Languages operates, you can watch a brief video here.  You can also check out the FAQ for system requirements.

There are two options for purchasing courses:

  1. Without teacher – $119 per semester per child
  2. If you want a teacher, it is an additional $175, or $294 in total

Since we did not have any teacher support I can not speak to that; what we did use was phenomenal though. 🙂
All in all I can say this was a wonderful program. There was such a fabulous variety used in teaching the material that this was a course that never had a dull moment. It also, as I said earlier, taught the WHOLE language. Full immersion, online anyway. As a one who is very involved with international travel, languages and culture, this really is by far the best way for anyone to learn a new language in a way that is fun and functional. I cannot say enough how much  I love the combination provided here. From cultural lessons, to authentic historical stories all fitting right into the lesson being taught, it is so much more than just words  Full of audio, video and speech exercises (some worksheets and coloring pages too) its a multi-sensory approach that I personally believe has something for everyone. 🙂

Click to read Crew Reviews

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