The one subject I feel inadequate for teaching my children is foreign language. Yet it’s also one where I really want them to be successful, because I think it is more important than ever to be able to communicate with people around the globe. We’ve dabbled in several Spanish programs over the last few years, but I was excited to get a chance to try Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids
. They sent us their Starter Set 1
to review, and it has definitely been a hit with our whole family.
About Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids
Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids uses videos to immerse students of all ages in the Spanish language. The videos are introduced in English by a kid dressed up like a pilot, who is presenting them as “in-flight entertainment” on a trip to Spanish speaking countries (Peru, Columbia, and Costa Rica).
The rest of the videos are completely in Spanish and feature three brothers.
The videos on the DVD are definitely the core of the program. The three levels build upon each other, and viewers are instructed to watch previous videos several times so they understand them well before moving onto the next ones.
Vocabulary is taught very deliberately in several ways. Sometimes the boys (and other actors) emphasize certain words/phrases. Then the story part of the video stops to present a special lesson focusing on that word.
Things are also labeled on the set, so viewers see the words for things they’re hearing about (and other things as well). The stickers included with the program make it easy to label things around your house in a similar way.
In addition to the videos, there are several other products that help reinforce what is being taught. Here’s what we received in Starter Set 1
- DVD with videos for Levels 1-3
- Three Parent-Teacher Guides (1 for each level)
- Student workbooks for Levels 1-3
- “Go Squish” Card Game
- Stickers for Levels 1-3
The teacher guides provide detailed lesson plans, including a suggested viewing schedule (for watching smaller segments of the video for that level), plus extra activities (e.g. games or workbook assignments) to help practice the vocabulary being focused.
The “Go Squish” cardgame we received is one of those activities. Similar to “Go Fish,” the game is played using vocabulary cards. At Level 1, the students just say the vocabulary words (“Desayuno?” “No desayuno.” At Level 2 they use complete sentences (Tengo desayuno. Tienes desayuno?” “No, no tengo desayuno. GO SQUISH”).
We heard about Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids last year, and from the first time we watched the sample video on the website, my kids have been eager to try it out for themselves. It did not disappoint! From my 8-year old down to my 2-year old, all the kids really liked these videos. I put them on several times a week while I was preparing lunch, and the kids loved how much they were able to understand after a few viewings.
The only problem with putting the DVD on like this was that the segments recommended in the lesson plans all flow into each other, so if you’re not standing right there watching the clock so you know where to stop it, the video just keeps going. That meant my kids ended up watching the entire video each time, which made them reluctant to go through all 11 lessons in the teacher’s guide because there was nothing new being presented. They kept begging to be allowed to go on to the next video. (The videos can also be watched through the website with a subscription, which eliminates this problem since they are broken into segments there.)
The workbooks are recommended for 3rd grade and up, so I gave them to Ian to work through. They are printed in full color on fairly glossy paper, which made it difficult to see pencil on. I ended up giving Ian a permanent marker to write with because it was the only thing we found that really worked well (though that caused its own problems). The workbooks are beautiful, but the price of printing them at this high quality is a bit of a turn off for me. I’d gladly give up some of the vibrancy to have something more affordable.
Ian’s favorite part of the program was definitely the stickers. He went a little nuts slapping labels on things around the house.
My husband was cracking up when he opened up the fridge to pack his lunch and found the bread labeled “el pan,” and the fruit bearing “la manzana” and “la naranja” stickers.
I love that the videos use an immersion approach. As I said, I feel so inadequate trying to teach them a language I have only minimal knowledge of, so I am so grateful to be able to give them an opportunity to hear native speakers using the language fluently.
I’m so glad we’ve found Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids, and my kids are already asking for the next DVD. (Volumes 2 and 3 are also available.) They’re taking ownership of the vocabulary they’ve learned, and I hear them using words and phrases throughout the day, even when we’re not “doing Spanish.” Just the other day, I set my 2-year old’s lunch in front of him, and he exclaimed, “Oh! Me gusta!”
That’s what I’m looking for in a foreign language program.