Thursday, October 24, 2019

Excelerate SPANISH {review}

Over the years, we have dabbled in foreign language, specifically Spanish.  We've never achieved fluency though, so when we had the opportunity to review the Excelerate SPANISH Streaming service from Excelerate SPANISH, I thought it would be an interesting addition to our curriculum lineup.

Excelerate SPANISH was created by Caryn Hommel, a homeschooling mother, author and former public school teacher with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature.  The video based program uses fun gestures, action sequences, skits and stories as concrete stimuli to make the program fun for all ages.

With a one year subscription to the streaming service, we have access to Level One and Level Two, which includes 24 video lessons each.  These lessons provide all of the instruction.  The material is stated as suitable for elementary through high school, approximately ages 7-adult!  (The textbook, workbook and answer key must be purchased separately.)

The lessons are accessible from a desktop, laptop, table or phone.  If you have a Smart TV, or can cast or do screen mirroring, you should be able to watch on the television screen for more suitable family viewing.

The videos are actual class lessons taught by Caryn to a roomful of children.  She jumps right into introducing a few vocabulary words and phrases by writing them in both Spanish and English on the whiteboard.  She pronounces and repeats them several times, then she shows a motion to do while say thing words.  (For instance, the motion for "trabajo - work/job" is a digging motion.)  This is part of Total Physical Response (TPR) that is shown to be highly effective in language acquisition.  There are many words and phrases introduced throughout each lesson, and the whiteboard is pretty full at the end.  Before the end of the lesson, the children are more activity involved in the lesson and demonstrations.  You'll see the teacher, the whiteboard, and/or the children at different times through the lesson, so my kids could see the other students participating in the lesson.

The lessons are taught in the context of a story, and the vocabulary used carries over into the next lesson.  As the lessons do build on each other, it is important to have a good grasp on the phrases before moving on.  Although the video based lessons are primarily taught through action, there are times when the children are referencing printouts and the teacher is pointing to posters on the wall.  It feels a little disconnected during these parts of the videos.  There are also "assignments" given at the end of the video, so there is additional work that is supposed to accompany the online lessons that you cannot do without the printed materials.

Although we've never been a traditional textbook family, I think my older kids (10 and 12) are kind of past the point where they enjoy being an active participant like this course requires, even in the comfort of their own home.  They might have benefited more from the workbook, and I believe I would require the workbook for high school credit.

There is, however, free access to Quizlet where you can find flash cards, games and quizzes to practice the vocabulary.  This is beneficial for additional time with the material, because the videos themselves are 30-35 minutes each beginning in Spanish 1, and by Spanish 2 they're around the 40-45 minute mark.  While this is an appropriate amount of time for an active participation class, it's a little long for a lesson at home (for someone with very little background knowledge in Spanish) and there is a lot of information to process.  I felt like the videos were so full of information that it was a little hard for us to keep up a timely pace with this course.  I think it would be ideal for each family to build a personalized schedule that alternates the videos and the Quizlet activities so that you aren't overwhelmed by the videos.  If you had the workbooks, that would probably help too, of course.

That being said, as a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I do appreciate the unique approach to foreign language.  I also like that you can access it as a streaming service.  It is a subscription that the entire family can use at one time for one price, there are no downloads, and there are no DVDs to lose or damage.  I think children with different learning preferences can benefit because the audio/visual nature of the videos, seeing the words on the whiteboard, and the movement and actions access all the  senses.  Finally, I think what makes this a good choice for a family wanting a Spanish program that everyone can do together is that the content is appropriate for older students, but the Total Physical Response and storied context make it accessible to younger family members as well.

If you are interested in learning more about Excelerate SPANISH, please check them out online, and see what other Homeschool Review Crew members are saying in their reviews.

Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews}

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