One of the really fun things about being on The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew is getting to try out things that I never would have tried on my own.
Recently, my children and I received a two month trial subscription to Speekee -- a series of online videos that teach Spanish by immersion.
There are 10 videos in all, each one combining puppets, Spanish children, and catchy songs. The videos are captioned in both Spanish and English. Reading skills are definitely not required, though, and I suspect that a child would learn just as quickly if they watched without the captioning. The vocabulary is absorbed by hearing the Spanish phrases and associating them with the pictures. For instance, one episode shows the children visiting a zoo. While they look at the animals, they name them and discuss whether the animal is big or small. Younger children might need more practice to pick up all the animal names, but should be able to understand "grande" and "pequeño" at the end of the episode. Older children might even be able to name all the animals.
Initially, I wasn't sure about the idea of just learning by immersion. It seems to be working, though. One night at dinner, Lauren was repeating some of the words and songs she had learned. One of them was, "Soy Lupi." We started talking about how I would say, "Soy Mommy," and how her brother would say, "Soy Brennan." It took her a bit of help to reach the conclusion that she would say, "Soy Lauren." After that, she caught on and realized that Granny would say, "Soy Granny," and Nana would say, "Soy Nana." We all thought it would be funny to hear, "Soy Oma." I walked into the other room and overheard when she said, "God would say, 'Soy God,' right?" The big kids and I ended up discussing the scene in Exodus where God says, "I AM." We decided maybe God would simply say, "SOY."
All of the episodes include catchy songs to help teach the vocabulary. I cannot count how many times I've caught myself singing, "Habla Español, Habla Español" or "Adiós, mi amigo, adiós."
The program is recommended for ages 2-10. Brennan (age 10) seemed to think it was a bit babyish. I'm not sure if it was the Speekee character, the sock puppets, or the songs that he didn't like. It did seem like it would appeal most to preschoolers or early elementary school children. Lauren just turned 5 and is in what I'd consider the ideal age range. She doesn't really like watching it though. I'm not sure if she dislikes the speekee program or if she's just not accustomed to watching things on the computer. Most of the other activities she has done on the computer have been more interactive. Even though she could learn a lot from watching the Speekee videos, I'm not sure I'll continue to fight with her about watching them.
A subscription to Speekee costs $7.50 per month, but there is a free two week trial available. Maybe you should let your own children watch an episode or two and decide for themselves if the shows are something that they would watch. You can also read other reviews on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog.