Monday, September 2, 2013

Homeschool Spanish Academy {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

 photo shield120x160_zps644d7b08.pngLast year Addison chose not to study Spanish for her high school language credits, but she has recently discovered that knowing at least a bit of Spanish would be useful. In particular, she was telling me a few months ago that she was embarrassed when she went to a Mexican restaurant on choir tour. Apparently, she had no clue how to pronounce enough Spanish words to order her dinner without having all of her friends make fun of her. (Ironically, I often say that I only remember enough from my High School Spanish classes to order at Taco Bell.)

She was recently given the opportunity to take seven classes from Homeschool Spanish Academy's High School Program. Homeschool Spanish Academy offers online Spanish instruction where the student converses with a native Spanish speaker via Skype.

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I found it easy to set up the classes, and Addison selected one of the instructors from a list of biographies on the website. I appreciated that I had a tech support phone call prior to the first class so that we didn't waste Addison's class time trying to make sure that everything was set up from a technical standpoint.

So far, Addison has completed five of her Homeschool Spanish Academy classes. Since she is a beginning Spanish speaker, she started learning a lot of conversational vocabulary -- hello, goodbye, my name is ____, etc. She appreciated learning useful phrases and names of common nouns right off the bat, as opposed to getting bogged down in the grammatical details. She has also said that she feels confident that she's learning to speak real Spanish phrases -- things that people actually say and not just what would be written in a textbook.

After most classes, Addison received a homework assignment to complete prior to the next session. The homework itself was exactly what I'd expect for a high school level assignment. It typically included vocabulary to review, several translation exercises, and a few dialogues to complete. The assignments were roughly four to six pages long.

Unfortunately, Addison and I found the technical aspects of the homework to be the most frustrating part of her experience. The assignments were pdf files that needed to be completed and then uploaded to Homeschool Spanish Academy. Last week, she came to me for help because she thought she had uploaded her previous assignments but they were blank when the teacher looked at them. We ended up printing and scanning one assignment, and I finally figured out how to work with Adobe reader to get the completed assignments uploaded to the website. Unfortunately, she just came to me a few minutes ago needing more help submitting her homework tonight. It took me about half an hour to figure out how to get it to work, and I'm nearly certain that it's not the same way we did it last week. I don't think our problems in working with pdf files are necessarily Homeschool Academy's fault, but trying to fill out and save pdf files can make completing the homework quite difficult.

Overall, we were both impressed with Homeschool Spanish Academy. We found the interaction with a native Spanish speaker to be the best aspect of this program. Not only could Addison hear the correct pronunciation, she had someone to correct her pronunciation as she imitated the words. She completed the written homework assignments outside of class, and then during the online session could spend her time perfecting her pronunciation.

Addison is glad that she took the Homeschool Spanish Academy classes as an introduction to learning Spanish. She thinks it will help her figure out if she wants to take a few years of Spanish for additional foreign language credits in high school. She also thinks that she can manage to order her lunch the next time she's at a Mexican restaurant with her chorus friends.

Addison also thinks the Homeschool Spanish Academy classes could be a good experience for students that have previously studied Spanish using just books and videos. The interactive aspect of the class would help a student correct any mispronunciations, even if it sounds just a little bit off.

As a parent, I found most aspects of Homeschool Spanish Academy to be very good. Addison attended classes by herself and later shared with me what all she has been learning. It's been many years since I took high school spanish classes, but I remember learning similar things over the course of my first year. One thing to note is that I never saw any graded assignments. Addison says she had a verbal quiz during one of the sessions, but I didn't see a grade for that in our course records. It does not necessarily bother me that she will not complete this course with a specific letter grade, but that might be a consideration for families wishing to put this class on a transcript.

The high school classes are each 50 minutes long. The price for one high school class session per week is $99.99 for seven weeks (half-semester) or $169.99 for 15 weeks. They also offer twice-weekly classes for $174.99 (14 lessons over 7 weeks) or $299.99 (full semester, 30 classes total). Some of other levels costs less and the cost per student is reduced if two students are participating in the class at the same time.


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1 comment:

  1. Great points! We did the elementary version briefly a few years ago and agree that the interactin with the native Spanish speaking teacher was the best part.



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