Posted in TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Excelerate SPANISH {Review}

My oldest son has always had a thing for foreign languages; perhaps as we have had a number of foreign exchange students through the years, he has developed an appreciation for the different languages that are out there. Whatever it may be, he has an amazing ability to pick them up – I admit, I am a bit jealous. I took a year or two of Spanish long ago and it never really “took” for me. But as my son gets more involved in our community and church (which do have some significant Spanish speaking population) I do see the benefits of him learning at least some basic Spanish. I was more than happy to have him use, Excelerate SPANISH Streaming from Excelerate SPANISH.

This is an online streaming subscription which allows our family access to both Spanish 1 (24 lessons) and Spanish 2 (24 lessons) for one full year. Each lesson is around 30-35 minutes while in the second level the videos are about 45-60 minutes in length (I admit some days my kids struggled a bit to follow along for the whole time – thankful we can pause and watch repeatedly if need be) of classroom style instruction. This also provides students access to Quizlet where they can practice what they are learning using other exercises using Write, Spell, Flashcards and Test. This is recommended for ages 7-adult so that means, we can learn right along with our kids (if we so desire). Of course when it comes to learning a language I always tell my kids that more is best – learning with a friend is ideal – we need to use what we are taught. Having been overseas, fully immersed in the German country, I learned myself how much easier it is for us to truly learn in this way.

One of the great things about this program is that it uses a system called Total Physical Response (TPR). According to their website“Studies in brain functionality and linguistics show that TPR facilitates foreign language acquisition for all age groups. TPR activates various motor cortices of the brain, making it easier to learn Spanish than you’d ever thought possible!” There are motions to do as you learn the words – all designed to help you recall and retain the words being learned. While my younger daughters found the hand gestures to be so much fun, my boys felt “silly” and chose to learn without gestures.

It’s pretty fun how in each lesson, words are introduced and then a story is told using those words. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? This helps our kids to both learn the words and also hear and experience them being used in proper context. Since the lessons moved a bit quicker than my son was comfortable with, we completed perhaps 1-2 lessons a week. Depending on how quickly he picked it up and how well he could show mastery. I suppose that is a big asset to streaming your material (that and not having to find and replace actual discs). 🙂

If I can be honest, I never heard of Quizlet before this either and was I blown away by all of the amazing materials for our kids to use in addition to the streaming videos. There are flashcards to use as you study new words and maintain those already learned.

Practice your words in a matching game or perhaps in the game Gravity (basically a shooting game – type the English word for the Spanish one written on the asteroids before they hit the ground).

You can also write/spell, learn and test for every lesson in both level 1 & 2 courses. This can be a great way to make learning a bit more fun – pit brother against sister or brother against brother – see who can get the most words correct. Whatever it takes with my boys sometimes. 🙂

There are such a variety of formats with this program, which can be great to use with students of just about any learning style. With our four kiddos, I know I always appreciate material that I can use with all of them, even as different as their methods may be. If you prefer, there are also workbooks available although we did not use these ourselves. Personally I think there is so much more that a student can get out of learning a language when they are using workbooks also (for one of mine, writing something down, seems to cement it in the mind). Not a necessity but definitely a nice addition.

I definitely recommend checking this out if you are looking for something that will help your kids learn Spanish. With all of the tools available they are certain to have a great time as they learn a new language. See what other members of the Crew thought too when you click on the image below.

Excelerate SPANISH is on Social Media:



Classical Academic Press’ French for Children {With an Amazing Giveaway!}

My eleven year old son has quite the love for foreign languages. Since we hosted an exchange student from France, he has been studying French informally, using various online videos and podcasts. He even started a notebook of his own with the words he knows but I know from my own experience studying languages, that at some point we need to formalize our learning. There is so much more than just memorizing words and having a proper pronunciation (as important as those things are).




In the last few years we have got through quite a bit of materials because of his interest in languages. We have studied Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and a bit of Hebrew, some Latin and Greek…I was wary to invest in more materials for him while at the same time eager to encourage this interest of his. So when I happened to see that Classical Academic Press (whose materials I really do love!) had a program,  French for ChildrenI had to learn more.  Perhaps this would be “just right” for him.




Their motto is “Classical Subjects Creatively Taught,” which is something that really strikes me because, that is how I want to see learning happening. There is such power in learning that is engaging, and encourages creativity.  This kind of learning is what inspires and makes kids into lovers of lifelong learning too. And I want to see that as much as possible with my children.



The complete program of French for Children Primer A includes the following:


French for Children Primer AFrench for Children Answer KeyFrench for Children DVD




Classical Academic Press was so very generous in giving me a copy of this curriculum for review purposes, and so I here I am, sharing our experience with you!  French for Children, Primer A is recommended for grades 4 and up. There are 17 Chapters and they offer a variety of weekly schedules to help you complete this program in half a year or an academic year (thirty weeks).  We appreciated having these to use as guides as we study.  Especially since we tend to be so relaxed in our schooling; without incentive we can sometimes park on a topic for weeks! And while I love to encourage that too, there is great value in learning how to complete things in a timely fashion!




French for Children has a very immersion style feel to the program! They use lots of dialogue, translation, vocabulary, dictation, grammar, and there are quizzes too. We used this quite a bit since my oldest son really needs this kind of thing to reinforce what he is learning. Plus it encouraged him to start his own little “Book of French Vocabulary” to track his learning for himself. He even began to record himself “teaching other kids French” as he learns. Now they may seem impossible, too much – but it really isn’t at all. This is all presented in such a way that it really is quite enjoyable!




French for Children Primer: Chant and Audio Files contains all of the pronunciations as well as dialogues, grammar chart chants, complete vocabulary, conversation journal words and phrases, Say It Aloud exercises, dicteés, and lots more! These files are great to load onto an mp3 for listening to or even as we are in the car, for some of our longer drives. (And right now we do have a few of those!)  This was an especially great resource for my son!


This is a very involved and very thorough course. I admit when I saw everything that this was made up of, I was a bit concerned that my son was going to be in over his head.  I admit, I was not sure this would inspire my son to continue learning. I will say, I was thrilled to find my son eagerly completing lessons and watching the videos each day. Often I would even find him repeating lessons previously completed; again the fact that he chose to complete lessons repeatedly even, its a huge compliment to this program.  In a season in which he has really been struggling with a desire to learn those beautiful and good things, seeing this light a love within him, it warms this momma’s heart.



We jumped right in when this arrived. And we learned after the fact that it really is important to watch the first DVD before beginning. This will give you a better understanding of this course while helping you to understand the structure of the lessons and explaining all of the different aspects that are a part of it this program.


We really are enjoying our use of this program, there are just so many wonderful things about it. The level of immersion that is used within the program; the depth and yet the simplicity and fun that is had in the learning process too….It’s refreshing to see children having so much fun learning.



Listen to the Dialogue – There is a story being told; as you listen to the audio follows along while listening to the audio. This is partly in French, partly in English and introduces new vocabulary. She gets an idea of what the new words mean from the context and tells me what she thinks is happening. The dialogue translation is in the back of the Student Text.



Chant – phrases & sets of words to learn proper pronunciation. My son will put on his headphones and listen. I love hearing him speak he has quite good pronunciation if I may say so myself.



Vocabulary – There are about ten new words to each chapter. My son writes these in his notebook of French words he knows and he likes to go over these throughout the week.
Video – The videos are about 45 minutes long; these are full of information. There are times my son will watch one video in one sitting; other times he may watch a little here and there throughout the week. These are very helpful to my son (me too!) and there are times we will watch a video again because there really is so much you can get out of these.


Grammar – There is grammatical instruction involved in this course; this is taught very creatively so its not overwhelming at all.


Worksheets & Quizzes – Within these are exercises in translation, verb forms, grammar exercises, charts to complete.These are all great for reinforcing what is being learned.


La dictée – The dictation exercises are all on the CD. Interestingly, in France dictations are done similar to our version of the spelling bee. Sounds like a really fun thing to me!




I have been trying to be diligent in practicing more the methods of Miss Charlotte Mason in our home education and I have to say this is something that fits into her ways so very well. We are reading right now too (because it was mentioned in the Introduction, The Fables of Jean de La Fontaine) and seeing as we go along how the dialogues within this program weave together into these tales. What a wonderful and creative way to help engage our children as they learn!




As you begin your studies in Primer A learning subjects and verbs; infinitives, verb conjugation, tense and noun gender you not only learn these things but you write them and read them and say them. You use them so that they are more than just another lesson to complete but are a cultural immersion experience. As a former exchange student and a host mom to many exchange students along the way, immersion is a wonderful (probably the best) way to learn any language. And as you learn, you create your own conversation journals and fun dialogues to practice conversation, letter writing and so much more! I haven’t fund yet a better and more enjoyable way to learn than this.





Since we have been using this we have also been encouraging regular use of additional songs and stories in French, to listen and read along. We even have a couple primers we are using to read, online, in French, that my son is really enjoying.  I remember reading not long ago that if you really want to learn a foreign language, reading and writing it and hearing it again and again, is the way to go. This program is just that.




Classical Academic Press has for your review a 64 page pdf from French for Children: Primer A  the student text you can download and try out if you want to learn more about this program. There is also a free audio MP3 sample and the you can watch the video below, this is the first chapter in the program  (it is about 45 mins long). If you have a student who is interested in learning French, maybe they even learned a bit already, this is a wonderful program to consider.  And there is always for some fun practice!





You have a chance to win!

Classical Academic Press are giving away two French for Children: Primer A bundles for USA residents! Just use the Rafflecopter form below —

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ French Course (Grades 3-5) ~ Review

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 LanguagesElementary 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.



Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Connect with Middlebury Interactive Languages:
Facebook: Middlebury Interactive Languages 

Twitter:   @middinteractive


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Love Languages




We have been so very blessed recently to become more active in studying foreign languages.  From the very first time I visited Germany when I was younger, I have had a passion for international languages and life. Today, as a homeschool momma of four I cannot get around the world, but by hosting foreign exchange students, we still get to enjoy the experience of another country, at home. And share our great nation with another too!


My oldest son is currently using Mango Languages for Mandarin Chinese and French too.  I currently use this same program for German and all of us are working on Spanish together using this.


I know so many people tend to shy away from foreign languages. If you don’t know one yourself it can be pretty scary. Even for those of us who have a league or two under our belt, it can be an uncomfortable thing. But, it’s possible. More than possible. It is doable. You CAN teach your child a foreign language and have fun doing it! And there are so many great reasons to study foreign languages. Believe it or not it can help you learn English, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. How about teaching character skills? After all this isn’t easy. Learning teaches our children hard work and study skills. Which means they learn patience, self control and perseverance (we hope anyway).



Don’t forget about those things that are right there in your community too. We love the library, and its a great place to find and try different language learning programs. You can find dictionaries, audio books, and computer courses (any have the Rosetta Stone program too). You can find lots of books in Spanish, French, German and many other languages as well to help develop your reading skills. Consider using children’s books when you first begin learning a language. It helps a lot more than you may think with comprehension.



There are actually several books that we enjoy together, in our own library at home which help children learn all about different parts of the world. My favorites are: Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the WorldChildren Just Like Me: Celebrations! ( carnivals, festivals and holidays), and then the Find Out About Series which includes France Italy, and Spain.  These teach not just language but history and culture too. These are great for children, and are a great introduction for the younger ones to different people and places.



Let’s not forget the internet and YouTube, these are full of great and free resources, to help guide you in your learning. The sky is the limit here. Here your children can learn stories and songs, in the language they are learning, for a real immersion experience.They can explore maps of different areas around the world too.  Who doesn’t love to learn in a way that is living?



One central site I love to visit more for studying languages than studying a language specifically, is Omniglot. I came across this one recently and just love it. Basically it is an encyclopedia of writing systems and languages, with more than 180 writing systems and information on over 600 languages. WOW! This is full of introductions to alphabets and other writing systems. Almost all the writing systems currently in use and many extinct ones. There are many great learning tools here too to take language learning to a whole new level with details of language families, advice on how to learn languages, and language-related articles and videos. All for free. (I am such a geek)  LOL



The key to foreign language is consistency. Practice every day, using it as much as you can. Maybe fifteen minutes each day will get you started. The more you use it the easier it will be.  Consider learning as a family or having siblings learn together. There was a tie we labelled everything in the house to help reinforce the words in the language my son was learning. Play games, read books, write and sing song in that language throughout the day. Make it a part of your life and your routine. Find opportunities to use what you learn each day. It can be as simple as saying “hello” or “thank you” in a different language, or have a foreign exchange student over (consider hosting – our family loves to do this), or share a meal with your family from the country whose language you are studying.



Until we meet again… Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, sayonara, farvel, gule gule, do svidaniya, Zai jian… goodbye for now. 🙂