Revisiting Middlebury Interactive Languages (Crew Review)

Foreign language is the only subject I feel completely unqualified for teaching my children at home.  It’s really hard to teach something you don’t know, especially when your pupils are quicker at learning it than you!  I’ve tried a few different ways of teaching Spanish, and one of my favorites is an online course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  Last year Ian went through the first semester of Elementary Spanish 1: Grades K-2, and we recently got to review the second semester as well.

About Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers a wide range of online classes for various ages, giving students a chance to study Spanish, French, Chinese, or German (not every language is available at every level–see chart below).

Screenshot (37)

Students can complete the course one of two ways: independently or interacting with a state-certified teacher fluent in the language. (The second option costs more but is necessary for the student to receive official credit for the class from Middlebury Interactive Languages.)  The courses are designed to cover one semester (the K-2 course contain 35 lessons per semester), but students using the independent option can work at their own pace and have up to six months to complete the lessons.

About Elementary Spanish 1: Grades K-2

Elementary Spanish 1: Grades K-2 is an engaging way for young students to interact with the language.  Each lesson consists of several activities that involve listening to traditional stories from Spanish-speaking countries, matching vocabulary words and pictures, and recording themselves speaking the words they are learning.  (You do need a microphone for this feature, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  Our’s laptop’s built-in mic worked perfectly.)

word match

The first semester (which Ian completed last year) has lessons grouped into 6 units:

  • Greetings
  • Numbers
  • Family
  • Colors
  • School
  • Review

Ian is now about halfway through the second semester, which includes the following units:

  • Body
  • Animals
  • Calendar
  • Food
  • Descriptions
  • Review

The units do not build upon one another.  They’re essentially just ways to build vocabulary related to different topics.

Our Experience

Although these courses are designed for one student, we usually have our school computer displaying on our family room television, allowing all the children to follow along and learn.  All of them really enjoy the program and often want to repeat the stories over and over.  I appreciate that the stories are told completely in Spanish, even though there’s no way children going through this course will understand every word.  They learn to recognize the key vocabulary words as they go through the lessons.  English translations are available for all the stories, and Ian always asks me to read them after the first time he hears the story in Spanish.  Other than that, he is able to complete the lessons completely on his own.

The one thing I think would improve the program would be more chance to use the words and phrases the students have already learned.  It’s a great way to build vocabulary, but I don’t feel like Ian had to retain anything except when he came to the final review unit.

Overall the entire program is a hit, but Ian’s favorite part is definitely the speaking portion.  There’s just something fascinating for kids about recording their own voices and hearing them played back, especially when they’re speaking new words in a foreign language!  I love listening to them pick up the nuances of Spanish pronunciation.  I think this is such an important part of learning a new language, and it’s something impossible for a non-native speaker like myself to teach them.

If you want want to find out more about the different languages and grade levels in other courses from Middlebury Interactive Languages, check out their website and then read some of the other Crew reviews by clicking on the banner below!

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Crew Disclaimer