It’s summer time and many kids all across the U.S. are enjoying a break from school. We do things a little different around here. Instead of just taking 2 months completely off from school we still do some “light” learning with added fun in the mix. The best thing is we have times where we take whole week breaks 3-4 times during the hot summer months. Yes we are year round homeschoolers. It works out great for the most part because my son is not moping around all day with nothing to do, and getting those breaks right when we need them helps to keep us from burning out. One of the things my son is learning to do this summer (thanks to me being on the the Schoolhouse Review Crew) is learning to speak another language.
With the help of Homeschool Spanish Academy my son is learning how to speak Spanish. Homeschool Spanish Academy is an online Spanish program for those ages 5-adult. There are 4 different levels of classes ranging from Early Language, Middle School, High School, as well as an Adult program. Click here to learn more about the founder Ron Fortin and the amazing story of his time in Guatemala and how the idea for Homeschool Spanish Academy came about.
In order to use Homeschool Spanish Academy’s online program there are a few requirements and things you’ll need. You need a computer/laptop, high-speed internet, built in computer microphone or a headset with microphone, and a web cam (recommended but can be done without—see my explanation below). First you’ll be instructed to do a free speed test to see if your internet connection is fast enough. Tech support (Ron) will give you a call and help with this. Next you can do a free trial lesson. After signing up and setting up your user name, password, ect., you will need to get a free account from Skype (a free service that allows you to video chat with others who also has a Skype account). This will be used to interact with the teacher whom will call you when it’s time for that day’s class. You will also need to sign up for Schedulicity (a free service where you schedule your classes and get email reminders of the dates and time you scheduled). Here is a screen shot of what a reminder looks like:
With Homeschool Spanish Academy your child “goes beyond how to learn Spanish to being able to actually use it”. The curriculum is tailored to fit his or her learning pace be it fast or slow. This is accomplished through the 1-on-1 interaction with native Spanish speaking professional instructors. My 12 year old son was placed in the Early Language program. It’s for kids ages 5-12. They suggest students start around the age of 7 but they can teach children as young as 5 if he or she is ready to learn. Each session for the class is around 25 minutes long which is good for those with short attention spans.
As I mentioned earlier it is recommended that you have a web cam. We were not able to use this feature do to our camera we normally use not being compatible with Windows 7. We did the lessons without the use of a web cam and it all worked out. We could see and hear the teacher, but she could only hear (not see) us. On the day of your scheduled class it is important you have Skype up and ready to go before the start of class. I usually turn mine on 30 minutes to an hour ahead of time so I wouldn’t miss the call. My son’s teacher Nora Aguilar was very nice and worked well with him. I kept scheduling his lessons with her because he didn’t want to try anyone else. He looked forward to his weekly sessions. When she called (through Skype) he would say hello (and good bye) to her in Spanish. She would always begin by asking him how his weekend went. After a few minutes of small talk they would get right to the lesson.
At the end of each class the teacher sends you the lesson and homework for the next class you schedule. During class she will pull the lesson up on the screen for the student to see and follow along with her. Here are screen shots of the lesson and homework:
As you can see the lessons are sent to you as a PDF file. This is what they will cover for that day’s lesson. She sends it to my email ahead of time so he can look over it before the next scheduled class.
Here you see one of my son’s completed homework assignments. It is sent as a editable Word file. At the end of the homework assignments is the email address to send it to. The homework must be completed and sent in before you start another lesson.
The whole lesson is done in Spanish. If needed she will talk to him or her in English especially if she needs to correct them. I liked how she gently guided my son into the correct way of pronouncing a word if he said it wrong. Take a look at him doing one of his lessons:
In the second picture if you look to the bottom right there is a little square box on the page. That is his teacher that he is talking to during the lesson. If you can’t see that here’s a close up without him blocking the view:
I believe talking to an actual native is the best way anyone can learn to speak Spanish or any other language for that matter. With books and worksheets there is no one there to help you know if you truly are pronouncing the words correctly. So far in my son has completed 5 lessons. He has learned the alphabet, numbers, vowels, greetings, farewells, names and family members, and even how to say whole sentences in Spanish. He’s retaining the information too and that makes me smile.
The price to use Homeschool Spanish Academy starts at $59.99. Look at this chart to see the break down of the prices:
And this chart shows the discount price for 2 students taking the class together (they must not be more than 2 or 3 grades ahead or behind each other).
To learn more about how Homeschool Spanish Academy works check out their youtube page. There are testimonials and how to's for using the program. They are also on Facebook if you would like to keep up with them there. We really enjoyed doing this review and everyone from founder Ron Fortin to the teachers were great to work with. If you are looking for a Spanish program for this upcoming school year I highly recommend Homeschool Spanish Academy. My other crew mates had a chance to try this out as well. Click here to see what they had to say.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this review are entirely my own. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was not paid to write this but received 7 Homeschool Spanish Academy lessons at no cost to me for review purposes, and to give my honest opinion.