Languages are my jam! Thankfully, at least one of my children shares my passion for foreign tongues! So we were both excited when True North Academy offered us a free semester of Spanish For Children A in exchange for an honest review. As much as I love languages, I find it difficult to teach them effectively one on one. The group dynamic really adds to the study, so this was an answer to prayer.
Me Gusta Spanish for Children
Not only was this a language course, but it featured one of our favorite curriculum suppliers, Classical Academic Press. We had already completed several of their other language classes, so we knew this would be good. We purchased the Worktext and audiodownloads to use in class. I was thankful that it was a program that included audio resources to use in between classes.
The Class Comes to You
We have tried “online” language courses in the past…okay, I have tried MANY online language classes in the past. It’s a bit of a hobby of mine to test drive language courses and software. To be honest, none of them have measured up in my book. (Well there was that one that I couldn’t stop raving about, but they were so good that they got bought out by a language learning behemouth to squash the competition, but I digress). The problem with most programs is that they focus just on the mechanics of the language.
Language is a living and personal experience, though. It is meant to be shared, not just memorized. At some point, event the best programs fail to deliver because it is all one sided. No matter what medium you use, there is no interaction. So, as you can see, I set the bar pretty high before beginning this.
The Missing Link
What sets True North Homeschool Academy Spanish class apart is the fact that it uses a video conferencing program where the students and teacher can all see each other and interact. We have done some live course in the past where the teacher could be seen but the students could only enter comments in a chat box. It was good, but would not work for effective language study.
Every Thursday at 11:30, we click a link and our kitchen table is joined to students spread across the Northern hemisphere. Some students live in Spanish speaking countries, others are in the USA. The diversity is refreshing, but through the wonder of the Internet, they can all meet for one hour each week.
More than Just a Class
The teacher for this class is a wonderful teacher. She is fluent in Spanish but also well suited to teaching many children of various ages. She knows just how to encourage and coax the children to interact and has good control of many students at once, dispite being in a completely separate location. We have grown very fond of Sra. Harkey. She is even so kind to learn the names of the random younger siblings who like to make guest appearances during class.
After class, Sra. sends a detailed list of homework assignments, including supplemental videos, exercises, and topics for flashcards. Between sessions, the students study and review independently. For meeting only once per week, the class progresses smoothly and the children just right into the lesson.
Finally a Keeper
Now I know that there are free and low costs apps out there that promise to teach you a language easily. Some are pretty good, but you also get what you pay for. Without the face to face interaction, your language learning will not grow and thrive. However, there are also those popular, do it yourself programs that are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. If you know the every popular one that promises it is the best program around, please don’t ever take it. It is the best around because it squashes competition, not because it is of any worth. Anyway, these live, excellent classes are comprable price and worlds away from a box of CD-ROMS (Okay, I’m showing my age, I have no idea what they are calling them now!)
If you are serious about your child learning a language or any subject in a welcoming, well planned, and enjoyable atmosphere, I can’t recommend True North Academy, enough! They are a keeper. My son’s Spanish is blossoming, and I have True North and Sra Harkey to thank. We couldn’t have done it without them.