Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages: Middle School French 2 (Grades 6-8) {Review}

Middlebury Interactive Languages recently sent us a subscription to Middle School French 2 (Grades 6-8) from their French Courses to review. We originally reviewed Middle School French 1 (Grades 6-8) last year. When we started, I wasn't exactly sure how to gauge Ceesa's practical success, but I was happy with how the program combined authentic, simple conversations with prompts, application of the language in common situations, multimedia activities and exercises, vocabulary themes, grammar concepts, sentence structure, assessments, information about French speaking counties, cultural information (history, food, and literature), and additional projects.

One day this past spring, Ceesa was looking at the back of a label and said, "Hey! These directions are in French and I can read them!!" Then she preceded to do just that. With so many foreign language programs, I have been disappointed by my children's abilities to actually use what they have learned in real life situations. While they always seem to do fairly well on the individual progress assessments built into some of the foreign language programs (like Middlebury has), their ability to actually use the foreign language in real life situations has fallen short of the mark.  After she translated the directions, I asked, "How did you do that?" She said, "Middlebury."

We also saw some progress almost immediately. After the first week of our review period last year, Ceesa was speaking French with one of her friends that had already taken a year of French. Her friend was very impressed with how much she knew and how well she spoke it and wondered what program she was using.

Middlebury Interactive Language's programs were developed specifically for students by linguistic experts. The Middle School sets are set up like a slide show. Each unit begins with objectives. The student clicks on the slide to proceed through the lesson. She sees French in context, listens to pronunciations, answers questions to check comprehension, records her own voice speaking French, reads French, writes French, and practices different components as she works through the slides. There are quizzes, midterms, and final exams. The full semester courses are divided into two sections of 36 units with 90 lessons per semester. The program's calendar automatically makes assignments (which can be adjusted as desired) or the child can work at her own pace.
There is no prep work or experience required on the part of the parent. Ceesa works independently four times a week for about 20 minutes a day. She would work at her own pace throughout the units. I didn't set up time constraints for how much she had to accomplish , but I wanted her to feel comfortable and competent in her understanding. So as she worked, she chose when to move forward and when to review the material. Since she worked independently, I would check in with her progress from time to time.

Ceesa reports that she likes the lessons with vocabulary and matching. She likes to listen to the audio and then push the button to acknowledge that she has heard the word. She likes to write in her journal.

Ceesa will continue using the program as her main French course 4 times a week until she completes it. I think over these last two years that I have learned my lesson and we will be making the switch from all of our foreign language programs to Middlebury Interactive Languages.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,

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