My oldest son loves languages. And since there is such a wealth of learning that can come from studying these, I am all about supporting his interests as he studies various languages. Right now, he is passionate about learning French. A beautiful language indeed! So I was more than happy to have the opportunity, for him to review Middlebury Interactive Languages, Elementary French Course (Grades 3-5) program.
I love how immersive this program is! Every unit has a theme and each theme is related to a story from the French culture. This is a great introduction to France and the language itself for our kids. As they learn the language they have fun playing games, learning songs and stories that help teach not just the language but the culture too! Using the method of immersion the learning happens in a natural way; they learn words and phrases that will be useful to them and also experience them in context. Some of the units that are covered in this program are: greetings, numbers, family members, colors, foods, weather, clothing. These courses are all designed to give children a multi-sensory approach to learning a language while also giving 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. These are just a few of the things that my son is learning!
One of the really neat features of this program is the speaking lab! We love this feature; my son has lots of fun recording himself speaking the words and phrases and then playing them back to compare his speech to that of the program.
Each lesson has a variety of fun activities to help reinforce what is being learned. In some activities you have to drag the word to the correct location; another time you have to click on the word that matches the picture being shown. One of our favorites was dragging the sentences of a conversation into the correct order. I admit though, this took quite a bit of time and patience. Another really fun one is the Speaking Lab: Conversations exercise. In this one you have to record specific phrases or sentences along with vocabulary words (a great opportunity to hear our own pronunciation).
Each time an exercise is completed, you can click on the check mark at the top of the screen and see the lesson graded. The exercises can also be repeated as often as you like, which is really nice for those units that may be a bit more of a struggle. In order for progress to be saved however the checkmark has to be clicked on after each lesson to save the grade (which my son is not so good at remembering to do honestly). Thankfully he really enjoys this program and likes to repeat the lessons, without any prodding from me, to make sure he’s got it all down. So in this case his grade book doesn’t really accurately show his progress but he is happy to continue working on these activities and I try to gently remind him when I see him working on here to make sure to click on that checkmark. 🙂
The lessons are the perfect length too! Being that my oldest son has a really hard time focusing for long periods of time, it speaks volumes to me that he not only sits through his lesson each day with this program but also (often) will complete additional lessons or activities. And the cultural lessons within are such fun to learn (and confirm with our exchange students when we can – that sure adds to the learning experience!). I mean, who knew there was a name for the kisses exchanged by the French when greetings one another? And what sound does a bird make in France? Do animal sounds really sound the same or are they different? My son had SO much fun with this one!
We just love the stories and songs that are a part of this; they are animated and lots of fun to watch! It’s fun to see just how much can be learned from watching and listening to these! I have read about the great value that this can add to language learning; listening to and reading in the language being learned. And while it seems impossible I can assure you that it is not just possible, it is a powerful tool when it comes to learning languages! Especially since these stories don’t just teach the words and phrases but also help our children to learn about the culture and lifestyle itself. It really is a full immersion experience for our kids!
The Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a wide variety of online language programs for students in grades K-12, in Spanish, French, Chinese, or German, with or without teacher support. A subscription can be purchased for either one or two semesters and these programs are all self-graded. Parents can log in to view progress within the grade book. And you can even print off copies of the stories and vocabulary being learned for each lesson at the end of each unit ( we printed these off right away and put them in a binder) so we can read and enjoy them together in between completing lessons online. It was fun too, to hear my oldest son reading these stories, in French, to his little brother and his sisters.
If you have a little one (or not so little one) I would highly recommend this program! This is a wonderful way to encourage a love of language learning; the lessons are great in both length and quality of content. But don’t just take my word for it; consider taking some time to read some of the other reviews from members of the crew.
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