Although Youngest is still getting a handle on correct English, his pronunciation has gotten much better, to the point that I was willing to consider introducing him to a "living" foreign language. When the opportunity to review the Spanish Starter Set 1 by Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids we were both interested to give it a go.
Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids' program is appropriate for beginning learners aged 3 (With parental oversight) and up. I think it is most suitable for children in the elementary years, but can be used by older individuals to gain a quick grasp of some basic Spanish, or possibly prepare for High School Spanish courses.
The program is based on the immersion-style videos that are the spine of the program. As reviewers, we were sent the complete Spanish Starter Set 1, which includes a DVD with the first three levels of video (along with workbooks, teacher/parent guides, flashcards and stickers for each level). The videos follow a family with three boys, who are our "immersion instructors." They are seen in familiar settings, and introduce words and phrases that are part of their daily life. There are other scenes interspersed throughout the main story that emphasize the particular word or phrase being learned, along with written cues for the words.
The Teacher/Parent guides give suggestions for scheduling lessons as well as extra activities that can be included in the learning time. We both enjoyed the stories and the personalities of the boys as we learned some basic words. The only minor issue I had with the DVD was knowing how far to watch for each lesson~ it appears that those may be more clearly defined in the online version of the videos, another alternative in which some people may be interested.
The workbooks are of such a high quality paper that my son didn't want to write in them, so we just did the exercises verbally. They are bright and colorful, with fun activities that enhance the learning from the video. One of the pages I found most useful included very helpful information that introduced the concept of noun genders in Spanish. This was obviously a totally new concept for my Youngest, but Spanish would seem to be one of the easier languages to learn this, as the "gender articles" typically relate to the ending of the word... fantastic!
There are some flashcards included which can be used for any number of games, including the Go Squish Cardgame, instructions for which are included in this Starter Set. We chose to do a variation on Concentration as a solitaire game for my guy. We also used them as basic flashcards to test his memory. I appreciate that there are "Key" cards included that give the number of each picture card along with the accompanying Spanish word/phrase card. Smart! (Because otherwise, I may have been confused by some of them, even though each photo is taken directly from the action of the video).
The final component included in this set is one that we personally have not used, and probably won't use as intended~ a set of vocabulary stickers. We just don't *do* stickers or labels on objects around the house here, but in another setting or home, I think they would definitely add to the "immersion" quality of the program.
So, how did we use the program?
We mostly followed the suggestions in the Teacher guide for lessons, making sure that we repeated the video portions, as a part of review. The times required varied a lot, from 10/15 minutes to 1/2 hour or 3/4 hour, which was actually a nice thing for us~ some days being more or less appropriate for shorter or longer lessons. There is a "Rapid Review" portion that can be used as a determining factor as to whether your child is ready to move to the next level or not~ Sort of a Video Flash Card with a race to see if they can say the Spanish word for each picture before it is flashed on the screen.
Youngest has started to use some of his Spanish in daily life which has been fun to see. He likes that it has been fairly easy to pick up some words and phrases without too much trouble, although he does have to work to remember other words. He thought all the puzzles in the workbook were fun, and the flash cards/card game was a lot of fun, but really challenged him.
I think that Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids is a wonderfully gentle introduction to Spanish that has gotten my son excited to be learning new words in a new language.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty
- Company: Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids
- Product: Spanish Starter Set 1
- Ages: 3 years old (minimum) and up (Particularly through elementary, in my opinion)
- Price: currently $140.25 for the physical products. There are also number of "online member" options available~ check the website for those! :)
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